Letter to Minister

Letter to Minister Bailey

Wednesday, 17 February 2020 – Requesting the Port of Brisbane Strategic Rail Access Study be publicly released.

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Sunday Mail – OP-ED Inland Rail Missing Link campaign

Over the past 18 months I have been quietly sharing my nation-building infrastructure vision for Bonner –Tunnel Vision.

With an aim to think big in a time when we need to boost our economy, create jobs and create projects that meet the Prime Minister’s Infrastructure Vision for Australia, this ticks all the boxes.

While I have been sharing this vision on the quiet so far in my electorate, my advocacy has been unabating in Canberra. Tunnel Vision provides an alternative, win-win solution to the problems currently facing the Port of Brisbane – Inland Rail connection.

The Inland Rail project – currently under construction – will connect Melbourne to Brisbane; however, current plans have it terminating at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane’s southern suburbs.

This means freight earmarked for the Port of Brisbane must be trucked in on existing roads unless a dedicated Inland Rail link is constructed.

Located in the northern part of the Bonner electorate, Port of Brisbane currently sees more than 98 per cent of freight trucked in by road.

In 2018, this equated to more than four million trucks and is forecast to increase to more than 13 million trucks by 2050.

Building a dedicated rail connection to the Port of Brisbane is estimated to take up to 2.4 million trucks off Brisbane’s roads by 2035.

The Coalition Government allocated $20 million to develop a concept plan to connect the Port of Brisbane to the Inland Rail via a new rail connection as currently, any freight rail is sharing existing passenger rail.

Tunnel Vision proposes to go a step further on this concept and deliver a dedicated rail connection via an underground tunnel.

By taking the rail connection underground, we will not only take pressure off the region’s roads and existing rail networks which are already at capacity, we can deliver better social and environmental means of transporting freight out of Brisbane and across the east coast of Australia.

From reduced air pollution, less greenhouse gas emissions, less noise pollution, less water pollution as a result of run-off from roads, and reducing heavy truck movements, we can improve the amenity and liveability of Brisbane’s southern and bayside suburbs.

A joint Federal and State Government Port of Brisbane Strategic Rail Access Study into this rail connection has been completed and I have been privy to its outcome, however it has not yet been publicly released by the Queensland Government.

This study has been sitting in a draw of a Queensland Government MP, to the detriment of our community. Holding up this study’s release resulted in the Senate Inquiry into Inland Rail being unaware of its existence until I spoke personally with Senator Susan McDonald.

Indeed, our government had been working towards a solution to connect the port and rail, which has currently been politicised as a “planning failure” by the Federal opposition.

I am heartened by the outcome of this study, and I am working with the Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher to have it publicly released by the State so we can progress Tunnel Vision.

This project also has the full support of Queensland’s MP’s and Senators who have earmarked it under our Team Queensland infrastructure priorities to the Prime Minister.

I believe a dedicated underground rail connection is a viable solution to the traffic chaos we would see if there is nothing done to deliver a dedicated connection between the Port of Brisbane and Inland Rail.

With an underground rail connection, we will take 13 million trucks of south east Queensland roads, which will not only ease congestion issues, but prevent heavy deterioration of these roads.

The project is estimated to create 1200 new jobs per year between now and 2045 through both construction and operational phases, and reduce emissions from freight as well as pollution from coal transport.

An added benefit would see Port of Brisbane operating amongst World’s Best Practice for freight transport and create a faster route to transport goods between Brisbane and Melbourne.

The benefits of Tunnel Vision are extensive, and I am very pleased to be able to share this vision with you.

Ross Vasta

Federal Member for Bonner

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Sunday Mail Exclusive – Queensland’s Missing Link

Sunday Mail – Queensland’s Missing Link

Exclusive published Sunday, February 14


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Queensland’s rail freight needs will soon be drawn into sharp focus with the Australian and Queensland Governments formally agreeing to canvass options on how to best serve one of the nation’s most important ports.

A jointly-funded $1.5 million study announced this week will look at the feasibility of options for improved rail freight connections to the Port of Brisbane from Acacia Ridge.

“Inland Rail will connect our regions with the ports and with the world, boosting our local economy and creating local jobs,” Federal Member for Bonner, Ross Vasta said.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to investing in vital infrastructure projects to ease congestion, increase productivity and generate new opportunities in local communities.”

“This investment shows the Turnbull Government understands the pressures faced by locals and we are determined to ease their burdens, so they can spend more time doing what matters, like spending time with their families rather than stuck in transit.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael McCormack said freight connections with the Port of Brisbane were critical in supporting south-east Queensland’s continued economic growth and development.

“Infrastructure Australia identified a dedicated rail freight line servicing the Port of Brisbane as a high priority initiative and this is one of the options which will be investigated as part of the study,” Mr McCormack said.

“Inland Rail is a strategic investment in Australia’s infrastructure future and the Port of Brisbane study will examine the possibility of a dedicated freight link from the Port.

“Significant analysis was undertaken as part of the 2015 Inland Rail Business Case which found the existing line could continue to service the port until 2030. The new joint study will now assess a range of immediate and long-term options to ensure freight continues to move efficiently.”

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said in addition to the feasibility of improved rail freight connections to the Port, the study would also be looking at demand and existing infrastructure capacity.

“Last year the Queensland Government announced it would fully fund and deliver the Cross River Rail Project and work has already started. Clearly, we need to understand what these projects will mean for the movement of rail freight,” Mr Bailey said.

“I expect that freight flows may change as a result of these network-shaping projects and increased interactions with the suburban passenger network.

“The views of key stakeholders such as the Port of Brisbane, Brisbane City Council, Cross River Rail Delivery Authority, Queensland Rail and the Australian Rail Track Corporation will be sought as part of the study.

“The outcomes of the study will help to inform the need for a future business case and corridor protection, if required.”

Independent specialist advisers will be engaged to undertake the study which is expected to be completed in the next 12 months.

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