Mayor Darren Power has welcomed the Australian Government announcement that double-stacked trains will not travel through the City of Logan following an independent review of the Inland Rail project.
The review, by Dr Kerry Schott, has recommended the construction of an intermodal terminal at Ebenezer, near Ipswich, to effectively end the Inland Rail route at that point for the double-stacked carriages.
The Australian Government has agreed ‘in principle’ to this recommendation.
Single-stacked trains would continue to Kagaru, Acacia Ridge and Bromelton, including through Logan, to allow connectivity to ports and other rail networks.
“After years of standing firm on our opposition to the proposed Inland Rail, I was delighted to hear the news today,” Councillor Power said.
“This really was a ‘David and Goliath’ clash but it shows you should never give up on something that is worth fighting for.”
Dr Schott’s Inland Rail review made 19 separate recommendations as it forecast the budget for the project to double to $31 billion with completion not expected this decade.
The mayor said it was a small and long overdue win when the newly-elected Albanese Government committed to the independent review of the project last year.
“When I met last year with Minister for Infrastructure, Catherine King, I made her aware of our community’s long-held concerns about the project,” Cr Power said.
“We know the route was selected without consultation and impacted residents did not get an opportunity to have their say on the route or offer alternatives.”
After years of being ignored by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and the former government, Cr Power said it was a relief that concerns raised by Logan residents had finally been heard and addressed.
It was projected that more than 40,000 people in Logan would live within a kilometre of the proposed Inland Rail corridor in the next 20 years.
As many as 45 trains each day, some up to 1800 metres, were expected to use the tracks, creating noise, vibration, and air quality issues for nearby residents.
“I’m grateful that our Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers and Minister King have listened to our residents,” Cr Power said.
“In particular I want to acknowledge Forestdale residents, Stan and Suz Corbett, the Inland Rail Action Group and Councillors Natalie Willcocks (Division 11), Tim Frazer (Division 7) and Scott Bannan (Division 9), who have fought the good fight on behalf of their local communities for so long.”
Logan City Council’s Infrastructure Chair Cr Teresa Lane praised the decision to seek a new direction for Inland Rail.
“This just makes common-sense to explore a new route that has less impact on our growing city and booming residential areas,” Cr Lane said.
“I join the mayor in thanking the new Federal Government for listening to local residents’ genuine concerns about this project.”
Cr Willcocks said the decision to keep double-stacked trains out of Logan would come as a huge relief for thousands of residents in suburbs including Greenbank and New Beith, which are adjacent to the existing single rail line.
“Many have put their life savings into building a house in these new development areas, only to discover afterwards that hundreds of extra trains could be chugging through their neighbourhood,” Cr Willcocks said.
“This is great news and a bit like a Christmas present at Easter for these residents.”
Logan City Council’s ongoing advocacy efforts around Inland Rail included:
- Making a submission to a Senate Inquiry (The Management of the Inland Rail project by the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Commonwealth Government), and having Council representatives – including Cr Power – appear at hearings on two separate occasions
- Meeting with and writing to ministers in the former government and local MPs on a regular basis
- Seeking feedback and support from other mayors and councillors about changing the proposed route to connect Toowoomba to the Port of Gladstone
- Encouraging impacted residents to participate in public information sessions run by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)
- Voting in December 2021 to continue advocating for the government to engage with stakeholders in an open, transparent and rigorous investigation of alternate routes, as Council did not consider Acacia Ridge could be regarded as a viable terminus for the project.