Work has begun on a $48 million rail upgrades along the Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Ranges.
The construction will increase the height of 11 rail tunnels and enable the transport of containerised freight by rail from the Darling Downs and South West Queensland Regions directly to the Port of Brisbane.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the project will support both Queensland agricultural sector and be a welcome boost to the local construction industry.
“Foundation and preparation works have commenced with further preparation works to be undertaken during a scheduled track closure of the western rail line at the end of February. The first tunnels will be lowered during a major track closure in April,” said Mr Bailey.
“The lowering of 11 rail tunnel floors on the Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Ranges will create the clearance necessary to transport 9’6” high cube freight shipping containers via rail, increasingly being used to export goods.
“This project has the potential to help reduce the quantity of heavy vehicles required to transport freight on the highway from South West Queensland to the Port, improving safety and reducing the impact on our roads.”
InterlinkSQ CEO Michelle Reynolds said the announcement is the catalyst towards a reinvention of the rail freight industry in our region.
“The tunnel upgrade forms an important building block in the future of rail freight, and most importantly, demonstrates the State Government’s commitment to the creation and protection of jobs for our state,” Ms Reynolds said.
Mr Bailey said after working with BMD Constructions on the detailed design and investigation works for the project, Queensland Rail would continue to work with the locally based company to undertake the construction phase of the project
“BMD Constructions, which has local offices in Toowoomba, and design partners WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, have completed the detailed design for the project, and Queensland Rail will continue to work with BMD Constructions during the construction phase,” Mr Bailey said.
“Now that construction has started, we anticipate the work will take approximately 12 months to complete.
“The tunnels are stone and brick lined and were constructed in the 1860s on Australia’s first main rail line through the Great Dividing Range. This project will strike a balance between maintaining the heritage status of the tunnels, while providing the modern-day upgrade that is required.”