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Triple the trucks would weigh down Queensland roads: Rail advocates

South-east Queensland roads would be burdened with a massive increase in freight trucks unless the Queensland leg of the $9.3 billion Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail project is addressed, key industry figures say.

Industry groups want the Queensland and federal governments to release a two-year study into options to get extra freight by rail from Acacia Ridge’s freight centre to the Port of Brisbane.

A Palaszczuk government spokesman confirmed the report “was finalised” and was “now being considered by the Queensland and federal governments”.

Unlike ports in other capital cities where rail delivers up to 30 per cent of freight to the port, only 2.5 per cent of freight goes to Brisbane’s port by rail.

In south-east Queensland more than 4 million “truck movements” a year carry 98 per cent of freight to Brisbane’s port, the Port of Brisbane Authority estimated in 2019.

The Port of Brisbane Authority released its own Deloitte Economics report last year that showed freight truck numbers on the south-east Queensland road network would triple.

“With the current rail constraints in place, that number would increase to over 13 million by 2050,” the September 2019 Deloitte Economics study said.

It estimated better rail links could reduce the truck movements by 2.4 million each year.

Port of Brisbane chief executive Roy Cummins said a route needed to be chosen quickly.

“If we don’t directly connect Inland Rail to the Port of Brisbane, Queenslanders won’t get the jobs, but they will get the trucks,” Mr Cummins said.

“The way our supply chain is established at present, that means a truck tsunami is heading our way,” he said when the report was released.

AgForce, Infrastructure Association of Queensland and the Port of Brisbane Authority all want the study announced in April 2018 released.

The study was meant to report after 12 months.

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice said Brisbane’s port must keep pace with ports in other capital cities.

“Ports are a vital part of our economy as a trading nation,” Ms Radice said.

“We are seeing Sydney Port and the Port of Melbourne expand rail capacity and the IAQ supports ensuring competitive transport options for our freight industry in Queensland as well.”

AgForce chief executive Mike Guerin said governments should stop “kicking the problem down the line”.

“From our point of view, the study should be released and the business case [on the chosen route] should start,” Mr Guerin said.

“We are already spending millions of dollars on this. Why still kick this ‘last mile’ research down the line?” he said.

“It is often in that last mile that efficiency is lost because of the increased complexity going through a town or on to a port.

“We should deal with that last mile up front, rather than kicking it down the road and kicking it through the politics of the day down the track.”

Mr Guerin said the business case for the link from Acacia Ridge’s freight handling facilities to the Port of Brisbane should always have been included in the Inland Rail business case.

“It also seems crazy to us not to build that efficiency into the system from day one.”

A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, said more work was being done to add detail to the option chosen to make the freight links from Acacia Ridge to the Port of Brisbane more effective.

“The Australian government is working with the Queensland government to finalise the initial Port of Brisbane study and further progress the $20 million federally funded Port of Brisbane planning study that will provide more clarity on a potential dedicated freight connection between Inland Rail and the Port of Brisbane.”

Options previously released include upgrading the freight line from Acacia Ridge through Tennyson then East Brisbane to the port, building an underground tunnel or using land in the corridor beside the Logan and Gateway motorways.

Tony Moore, Brisbane Times