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AS SOUTH-WEST Queensland residents await the impending announcement on one of the most controversial sections of the Melbourne-to- Brisbane inland rail project, other route options are still being floated by intersted bystanders.
The New South Wales-Queensland Border to Gowrie Junction line - formerly Yelarbon to Gowrie Junction - is one of 13 sections to complete the $16billion track.
Four options had been tabled for the route: from Inglewood via Millmerran, a route closer to Warwick, a route through Karara and Leyburn, and a route or connection to Wellcamp, before continuing to Brisbane.
But one landholder is questioning why the track does not push further north.
Yelarbon resident Don Cranney argued the inland rail line should bypass the Port of Brisbane and instead push up to Gladstone to better service agricultural and mining industries in the north of the state.
"The Border Rivers could become the essential food production areas for two-thirds of the Australian population who live in the greater Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne city clusters,” MrCranney said.
"If you take in the free trade agreements into Asia, that have to be honoured, then the inland rail line would become an essential lifeline to these people as back freight.
"For example, Darwin supplies Adelaide with watermelons and the north would be able to supply the south with out-of-season produce, boosting northern development.”
Mr Cranney said with Gladstone Port under capacity, a new 450km link between Miles and Gladstone could be paid
for by coal projects at Wandoan. "The rail link from Goondiwindi to Miles could actually be built sooner than the inland rail connection from Melbourne to Goondiwindi is completed,” he said.
"The relatively flat terrain from Goondiwindi to Miles should be a breeze in comparison to going through the ranges into Brisbane.”
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said a decision on the preferred track had been deferred until later this month.
Southern Downs Regional Council has lobbied for the route to come closer to Warwick. "This route should come via the Southern Downs because looking into the future of the state there are far more opportunities surrounding our region than there are at Millmerran,” CrDobie said.
This article first appeared on www.warwickdailynews.com.au
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