Federal minister for infrastructure and transport Darren Chester has confirmed a $3 million commitment for the development of a development case for the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) project.
The funding is part of the $150 million commitment made by Chester and Turnbull at a pre-election press conference at the Port of Townsville in May.
The TEARC will provide a new eight kilometre freight line connecting the North Coast rail line and the Mount Isa to Townsville rail line with the Port of Townsville.
Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads says the TEARC will allow 1400-metre trains to access the port. Train lengths are currently limited to 1000 metres on the Mount Isa line, and 650 metres on the North Coast line.
Infrastructure Australia has the upgrade of the Mount Isa to Townsville rail corridor – which includes the TEARC – listed as a medium term priority initiative, in the business case development stage.
The funding announced by Chester this week will finance that business case.
“The development of an in-depth business case, which will consider the feasibility and the cost estimate, is a key stage in realising this important project,” Chester explained.
The minister said the federal commitment was dependent on it being matched at the state level.
“I have written to my counterpart in Queensland, Stirling Hinchliffe, to confirm my approval for the first stage of the project under the National Land Transport Act 2014,” Chester said.
“This project … will transform Townsville’s city centre by redirecting significant quantities of freight traveling by rail to the Port of Townsville away from the CBD.
“Positive discussions between the Australian Government and Queensland officials to settle appropriate governance arrangements are currently underway,” he added.
“Once the business case is complete, the project will then be assessed by Infrastructure Australia, as part of the approval process for projects receiving over $100 million in Australian Government funding.”