10,000 jobs on track for InterlinkSQ's rail upgrade
THE company behind a $235 million rail transfer station in the Toowoomba Enterprise Hub says an upgrade of rail infrastructure is the first step in creating 10,000 jobs.
InterLinkSQ welcomed the announcement that the State Government will spend $2.5 million to re-open the rail siding at Oakey, as well as the upgrade of two additional sidings at Morven and Mitchell.
It wants to transfer freight to the Port of Brisbane and has long been calling for upgrades to the rail line. InterlinkSQ is hoping to capitalise on the Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail line and the fast-growing eastern seaboard.
InterLinkSQ chief exectuive officer Michelle Reynolds said in making the announcement Minister for Transport Stirling Hinchliffe re-affirmed the Queensland Government's commitment to rail freight and in particular those projects that created jobs and supported economic growth.
"That's really pleasing to hear because it fits in with our goals," she said.
"Finally, the government is putting some action behind the rhetoric of 'freight on rail'.
"An independent assessment of job creation potential from our InterLinkSQ inter-modal transport development at Charlton puts the figure at as many as 10,000 jobs nationwide."
Ms Reynolds said the planned hub would allow businesses to streamline their existing operations, as well as developing new product lines which could then be transported easily all over Australia, and to global markets.
"With access to the Port of Brisbane and potentially to the Port of Melbourne when the inland rail is built, InterLinkSQ will be a pivotal hub in transport along the fast growing Eastern Seaboard," she said.
Current economic predictions forecast population growth along the eastern seaboard to increase by 50% from today's base by 2030 and doubling by 2060 resulting in an exponential growth in the freight task.
Ms Reynolds said rail freight would have to play a key role in ensuring highways did not become overcrowded by semi-trailers at a cost to both road safety and the environment.
"This is not a fight between rail and road though," she said.
"InterLinkSQ sees rail working hand-in-glove with road freight, that is huge amounts of cargo being shifted by rail - it's amazing how much you can fit on a freight train - to inter-modal hubs and from there taken on shorter trips by road to their final destination.
"Tie in the link to the ports and through InterLinkSQ, Queensland and Australia will have one of the most efficient methods of distributing freight anywhere in the world.
"At InterLinkSQ we are about not just meeting existing world standards, but bettering them."
The next step will be upgrading 11 tunnels between Toowoomba and the Port of Brisbane.
InterLinkSQ has been involved in detailed discussions with the Queensland Government to make that a reality.
International container shipping companies are generally phasing out smaller containers in favour of larger ones.
The issue facing the producers on the Darling Downs is that Toowoomba Range rail tunnels can only fit the smaller containers.
Ms Reynolds said if the upgrades didn't take place it would become increasingly difficult for Darling Downs exporters to get access to old containers.
But she's hopeful the upgrades will take place soon.
"Once that is done InterLinkSQ is off and running in doing the very things that Minister Hinchliffe wants to see, the development of rail freight in Queensland, the creation of new jobs and ongoing economic growth," Ms Reynolds said.