AN ALTERNATIVE route for Inland Rail across the Condamine Floodplain in southern Queensland is to be investigated by the Federal Government in response to an ongoing campaign from landholders who see the current route as unworkable.
The route to be assessed deviates from the existing route as proposed by Inland Rail’s builder the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) at Whetstone, between Yelarbon and Inglewood.
Known as the state forestry route, the new proposal in part follows the Westlink powerline which runs south from Kogan Power Station.
It then passes west of Millmerran, instead of running to the south-east of the town as currently proposed, and through Cecil Plains before striking east to Gowrie and Toowoomba.
Millmerran Rail Group (MRG) represents those who stand to be affected by the route chosen by ARTC, which runs across 16 kilometres of the Condamine Floodplain, and through Brookstead, Pittsworth and Southbrook.
MRG chairman Wes Judd said Member for Maranoa David Littleproud had worked tirelessly with concerned local residents weeks to get the concession from Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Darling Downs primary producers have welcomed a major concession from the Australian Government with an alternative route for Inland Rail to be assessed with ongoing controversy over its flawed, flood-prone route across the Condamine River floodplain route near Millmerran.
“I have to thank the Deputy Prime Minister. He took our calls and he listened to us,” Mr Judd said.
“However, we do need to ensure we have the detailed examination of the alternative route for all stakeholders. This is not a desktop, tick and flick job. It needs rigour and the independent expert panel should be charged with looking at the alternative route as well as the flawed route that ARTC has been insisting upon.”
Mr Judd said the Senate Inquiry into Inland Rail, which held hearings in Millmerran and Brisbane in January, remained focussed, despite the disruptions from COVID-19.
“ARTC, and the Australian Government for that matter, need to know it’s not just very concerned men, women and children on the Darling Downs that are watching. The Senate is continuing to keep an eagle eye on developments.”
“Thanks to David Littleproud and Michael McCormack, there is a chance to get the right route and get Inland Rail back on track.”
MRG has maintained that ARTC’s modelling for the current route underestimates by 50 centimetres the maximum height of flooding which can be expected in the Condamine catchment every 10 years.
Wes Judd says a major flood occurs every 10-15 years.
“People know they’ve had 400mm of floodwater on their top step, and ARTC are trying to tell us the water was only on the grass.”
“If the line goes to Cecil Plains, it’ll be across 4km instead of 16km of floodplain.”
Mr Judd said the number of businesses affected by Inland Rail would be greatly reduced by rerouting it through Cecil Plains, where it could link up with a brownfield Queensland Rail alignment.
“The first ARTC says when we suggest a different route is ‘we’ve already looked at it’.
“However, you can’t square away other options until they’ve all been assessed on a like-for-like basis.
“We’re following it up to make sure it’s a full review.”
“If ARTC does it properly, the community will be glad to have the thing.”
MRG’s major concern about ARTC underestimating the impact and height of floods is that debris and floodwater will build up behind the raised rail line, and cause severe land degradation, as well as affecting the safety and operations of farms, businesses and households.
Source: With MRG
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