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Urgent investment needed to keep Cairns rail freight viable

July 2017
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The State and Federal Governments urgently need to invest in the northern corridor of Queensland Rail’s freight network for it to remain competitive and commercially viable according to Cairns Regional Councillor Richie Bates.

Cr Bates, a public transport advocate whose division includes the major rail yards in Cairns says, “Huge investment in the Bruce Highway has eroded the market share for the North Coast Rail Line leaving rail freight at risk of failure”

“While I remain supportive of road funding, the disproportionate spending on our highways over rail has made rail consignment unpalatable, forcing freight users on to our roads with heavy vehicles”

“If these circumstances continue rail will become unsustainable with the far north becoming reliant on road freight and exposed to the uncertainty of shifting fuel prices”

“Cr. Bates continued, regional roads and highways are already congested, huge increases in trucks on our roads will bring negative consequences to road safety”

“There should be no place for long haul containerised freight on our highways – this should be the domain of rail”

“The Far North needs transport diversity to support access and development of the region. We can ill afford to lose another pathway into Cairns, especially when extremes of weather and wet seasons can shut down arterial links to the city”

“The Rail Tram and Bus Union’s submission to the Queensland Government’s Draft State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) highlights these risks to our community and the economy, and I am sympathetic to their desire for investment in rail”

“I shall be contacting the Member for Cairns on this issue, and will seek his understanding and support”

“It is time for the State and Federal Governments to prioritise the upgrading of the North Coast Line and deliver transport security to our region”