Inland Rail is a once-in-a-generation project connecting regional Australia to domestic and global markets, transforming the way we move freight around the country. It is the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia and will complete the ‘spine’ of the national freight network between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The Australian Government, through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), is delivering the multi-billion dollar infrastructure in partnership with the private sector.
Two Inland Rail projects are within the Toowoomba Regional Council area:
New South Wales/Queensland Border to Gowrie
Gowrie to Helidon.
Toowoomba Regional Council's role
The Inland Rail is a Federal Government project, with the route chosen and entirely managed by the Federal Government through the ARTC.
Council does not have any power or influence over the Inland Rail alignment or land tenure issues and has not been asked to endorse the route. Council can influence road-rail interfaces and impacts on other Council assets.
Council is lobbying for better outcomes from the Inland Rail project, including additional project elements, to benefit the Toowoomba Region and will continue to work closely with ARTC to minimise adverse impacts where possible.
ARTC is responsible for consultation with landholders and stakeholders on all matters related to the project.
- Council is lobbying ARTC to ensure all strategic local, state and national roads, where they cross the Inland Rail alignment, are grade-separated to improve safety.
- Council is lobbying to ensure that all other at-grade road/rail interface locations are constructed, as part of the Inland Rail Project, to a suitably configured standard that accommodates appropriate vehicle storage lengths, widths, sight distances, vehicle manoeuvring requirements and clearances for multi-combination vehicles and over-dimensional vehicles including agricultural equipment.
- Council will coordinate with ARTC to ensure road impacts, detours, alignments etc are suitable and minimise impacts to the community. All roads realigned or impacted by the Inland Rail project will be designed and constructed to current engineering standards.
- Council is actively engaging with and negotiating with ARTC on impacts at Gowrie Junction (including road network and utilities impacts) to achieve the desired Council outcome for Gowrie Junction Road, Morris Road, Paulsens Road and the northern area transport connectivity via Boundary Street North.
- Council is actively engaging with ARTC to ensure provision of Boundary Street (west-facing ramps) now as part of the project design development phase, and with the State Government and Federal Government to plan for construction of the west-facing ramps now as part of the project.
- Council is lobbying to have all unnecessary rail freight movements removed from urban areas (in particular Toowoomba) to improve urban amenity and reduce delays to the operation of other urban transport networks.
- Council is lobbying for the Inland Rail Project network to be capable of operating safe and efficient future passenger rail services without compromising the freight objectives.
- Council is lobbying for junctions on the main alignment at locations that will readily allow for the possible future connection of all existing rail tracks and corridors in the region.
- Council is actively engaging with ARTC and lobbying government for final design and construction of the Inland Rail tunnel (Toowoomba Range) to include future proofing width, at least two (2) rail tracks and a water pipeline.
- Council will allow future passenger rail terminal locations of interest to develop with the review of the Sustainable Transport Strategy (STS) and engage the State Government now during the design development of the Project.
- Council is actively advocating and lobbying ARTC to provide their Rail Provisioning Centre (Maintenance Facilities) at preferred Council locations within the Toowoomba Region, such as Millmerran.
- Council is advocating and lobbying ARTC for a connection between the proposed Inland Rail alignment and the Queensland Rail South Western System connection/s (Yelarbon and Southbrook areas).
- Council is lobbying ARTC to minimise impacts on Council’s utilities, particularly the water and sewer networks, including realigning the sewer main at Gowrie Junction due to the impacts of the Inland Rail alignment.
- Council is actively engaging with ARTC to request adverse noise, vibration and lighting impacts are suitably considered and well addressed and treated along the proposed Inland Rail project corridor.
- Council may identify other opportunities in the future to lobby ARTC on behalf of the Toowoomba Region.
Stormwater and overland flow
- Council is lobbying ARTC to ensure the Inland Rail project properly addresses all stormwater and flooding matters associated with the project during and after construction, including but not limited to:
- Any concentration of stormwater or flood flows;
- Any changes to any overland flow paths;
- Any increase in velocities of stormwater or flood flows at drainage structures; and
- Any increase in either water levels associated with stormwater or floodwater flows, during or post-construction.
- Council is actively engaging with ARTC to ensure the project flood modelling is undertaken utilising industry best practice. ARTC has developed its own flood model for the Inland Rail project and takes overall responsibility for this model. The ARTC flood model has been reviewed by independent experts and will be continually reviewed as the project develops.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process
- Council has two roles in relation to the Inland Rail project:
- To provide feedback and input into the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for both the Border to Gowrie (B2G) and Gowrie to Helidon (G2H) sections; and
- To review ARTC designs with a specific focus on the returned works to Council and impacts on communities such as road re-alignments and utilities impacts. This is part of the interface design aspect and is separate to the EIS process.
- An EIS Working Group has been established within Council for internal response to the Inland Rail EIS submission process. Council will be providing a response to ARTC on both Environmental Impact Statements.
- For individuals in the community, the EIS will be open for public review for a period and the timing will be dependent upon ARTC. Individuals will have an opportunity to provide input and feedback within the public notification period.
- Further information can be found on the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning website:
The State Government’s Office of the Coordinator-General (OCG) has released (2 August 2021) the draft G2H EIS for public notification, with submissions closing on 25 October 2021.
The G2H EIS can be viewed at the following link: https://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/assessments-and-approvals/coordinated-projects/current-projects/inland-rail-gowrie-to-helidon/inland-rail-gowrie-to-helidon-project-draft-eis-documents
The community can make submissions to the Office of the Coordinator-General via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of ARTC’s community information sessions can be found at their website: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/
Interface Improvement Projects
The Federal Government announced in April 2020 that pre-feasibility studies will be advanced for five interface improvement projects that are linked to the Inland Rail project across southern Queensland.
Toowoomba Regional Council, on behalf of the Darling Downs and South West Queensland (DDSWQ) Council of Mayors submitted Expressions of Interest (EOIs) in late 2019 for three projects that were assessed under the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
The two additional proposals were submitted by Goondiwindi Regional Council and Interlink SQ and Seaway, which have also received approval for the further development of their proposals.
The successful proposals in southern Queensland include:
• The potential upgrade and re-opening of existing rail lines (West Moreton and South West Rail systems). To upgrade and re-open the existing West Morton Rail System and the South West Rail System to allow these routes to accommodate the same loads as the Inland Rail,
• South Western Rail System – additional connections to Inland Rail. To investigate additional rail connections to the existing South West Rail system. The proposal has the potential to improve rail connections to the Inland Rail to accommodate heavy agricultural, mining and bulk commodity loads from the west and to minimise the need for both road and rail freight loads through Toowoomba,
• A Rail Provisioning Centre – (potential maintenance facility). Under this proposal, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) would build a rail provisioning/maintenance centre for Inland Rail operations at strategic locations in the Toowoomba Region,
• Goondiwindi Regional Council – to develop a Goondiwindi to Inland Rail corridor connection through upgrading the current South Western Rail line beside the Queensland and New South Wales border from Kurumbul to Thallon. The proposal has the potential to allow better connectivity to Inland Rail, and
• Interlink SQ and Seaway – to develop the South West Intermodal Project. The proposal has the potential to provide a cost-effective and efficient service offering through the provision of a ‘hub and spoke’ logistics network. This would include the construction of a new rail siding and a primary regional aggregation and distribution centre (hub) in Toowoomba.
The projects will now proceed to the second stage which is a pre-feasibility study to be conducted by Ernst and Young on behalf of the Department.
The relevant State authorities - the Department of Transport and Main Roads and Queensland Rail - will be invited to join the process as the first two proposals involve the Queensland Rail freight network.
The community can also have its say on the ARTC community consultation webpages or via the Community Consultative Committees established by ARTC.
Border to Gowrie (B2G):
General information page on EIS process: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/B2G
Consultation webpage: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/B2G-project-consultation
Interactive project map: https://maps.inlandrail.com.au/b2g#/
Community Consultative Committees:
Southern Darling Downs: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/sdd-ccc
Inner Darling Downs: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/IDD-CCC
Gowrie to Helidon (G2H):
General information page on EIS process: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/G2H
Consultation webpage: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/G2H-consultation
Interactive project map: https://maps.inlandrail.com.au/g2k#/
Inner Darling Downs: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/IDD-CCC
Lockyer Valley: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/lv-ccc
Enquiries on the Inland Rail project can be directed to ARTC on 1800 732 761 or email email@example.com