TSBE urges State Govt to speed up rail line investment

TOOWOOMBA and Surat Basin Enterprise has called on the State Government to work with the private sector to speed up rail access to mining operations in the region.

A critical missing link, and one which has already seen tens of millions of dollars invested into it, is freight rail infrastructure which would open the Surat Basin region to commodity and agricultural exporters, according to TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles.

He said a rail solution was needed to support the region's expanded mining operations following the State Government granting Glencore its mining leases for a proposed coal mine near Wandoan. 

"We are aware that the mines will not start anytime soon, but we also know that big pieces of infrastructure, like new rail infrastructure to freight north to Gladstone's export port, take a long time to deliver," he said.

"We believe that Surat Basin coal will be required by the international markets by 2023, so industry and the government, supported by private equity, needs to start progressing this rail infrastructure now.

"Significant private sector investment in freight rail infrastructure will open the entire precinct to commodity and agricultural exporters, as well as providing hundreds of jobs for regional Queenslanders."

Tens of millions of dollars had been invested by private equity to open the rail line, and more investment was in the works, Mr Charles said.

What was now needed was a commitment from the State Government to work with private enterprise to progress the projects.

"We would ask coal mine proponents and the State Government to engage with private investors, like ATEC Rail Group who have already invested considerably in the Surat, to find a solution to make this investment in rail infrastructure happen, and for construction to begin," he said.

Mr Charles said he'd spoken with ATEC Rail Group managing director John Balassis who confirmed the company was in discussions with the State Government to invest more than $250 million expanding freight corridors throughout the resource-rich Surat Basin.

It followed the company's significant investment exploring improved freight transport solutions for minerals, agriculture and commodity exporters in the region.

Mr Charles said ATEC Rail Group's investment would improve the existing freight bottlenecks, and get freight off the road and onto rail.

In a statement, TSBE said it would "encourage the Queensland Government to hasten investment discussion with ARG so that construction on a rail solution could commence, provide certainty for landowners along the corridors, and most importantly, provide jobs for the region".

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