Region could lose billions if Inland Rail isn't changed
TOOWOOMBA and the Darling Downs could lose an extra $4billion in agricultural exports each year within 20 years if the Inland Rail was not connected to the Port of Brisbane.
That's the view of the port's chief operations officer Peter Keyte, who said farmers could be the big losers if changes were not made to the $10billion rail project.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation's plan for the Inland Rail ends at Acacia Ridge, with freight to be moved onto trucks.
"We agree it's a nation-building project, but it stops short from reaching the port," Mr Keyte said.
"We get really annoyed when ARTC says that the Inland Rail connects the ports, because it actually doesn't."
The comments come after it was revealed just 2.5 per cent of all shipments to the Port of Brisbane were moved by rail in the past financial year, down from 13 per cent 11 years ago.
Mr Keyte said more than 55 per cent of all agricultural exports to the port came from within 200km of Toowoomba, but said costs of moving that would increase.
"We're not anti-truck - there's a role for trucks to play to feed inland hubs and ports, but if you're going to have a competitive cost outcome, you've got to have rail competing," he said.
"We were targeting 20 per cent and at the moment we're at 2.5 per cent, and we can't see that improving at the moment, unless they do that last 38km to the port.
"Your farmers, agricultural sectors and coal sectors are going to pay bigger costs."
Modelling by the Port of Brisbane from 2013 put the Darling Downs' potential output by 2035 at an extra $4billion a year.
Deloitte Australia will release new findings on the future export values of the port next month,.
Mr Keyte was invited by Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio to speak at the South-West Council of Mayors in Roma today.