Inland Rail: Still Full Steam Ahead by Nilsson Jones

The K2ARB section of Inland Rail will seemingly go ahead, despite residents’ concern and Logan City Council’s public opposition to the project. The Inland Rail route was selected without consultation and residents did not get an opportunity to influence route selection or offer alternative, according to a Logan City Council spokesperson.

Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton (K2ARB) is a sub-section (one of thirteen) of the project which runs directly through many of the suburbs this paper serves. A Senate Inquiry into the management of the Inland Rail project by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has now been twice granted an extension for its report, with last month’s decision to extend the date to 11 February 2021. The project is purposed to upgrade significant rail lines and terminals on the east coast, connecting Melbourne to Brisbane and enabling freight to be moved between the capital cities in under 24 hours. The current proposed alignment runs through what will likely become one of the most densely populated parts of Logan, with an estimated 38,000 residents to be within one kilometre of the corridor by 2041. Council and residents have both raised significant concern regarding the detrimental impact on both environment and lifestyle; citing noise pollution, congestion, and the potential of exposure to coal dust. Council has expressed concern since 2016 regarding the K2ARB section and met with the ARTC and relevant ministers but does not feel their concerns are being addressed. ARTC suggest they are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders involved. “Investigations are underway to understand the potential impact of the project on the community, in areas such as hydrology, noise monitoring and vibration and air quality – the issues that the community has flagged are of greatest concern for them” a spokesperson for ARTC said. Once these investigations are complete, ARTC will discuss the results with local stakeholders and the community. Scott Buchholz MP is the Federal member for Wright, and continues to support the Inland Rail project, but agrees it cannot come at the expense of the community. “As I have done for several years, I will continue to work with the community and ARTC to mitigate the impacts to residents along the rail corridor” Mr Buchholz said. “The consultation process has been difficult due to the time taken by the Queensland Government’s Office of the Coordinator General in the consideration of whether K2ARB is to be declared a coordinated project.” If the section is categorised as a coordinated project between the Federal and State Government it will require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

This will provide another avenue to raise community concerns and raise the standards necessary for the section to be granted approval.Logan City Mayor, Darren Power said the establishment of the Community Consultative Committee was a positive step in improving engagement with residents, however the format has led to frustration as the public is not able to engage in these forums. “The Federal Government’s view is that the project is a fait accompli, but I will not sit idly by and allow the ARTC to bulldoze their way through our city without putting up a fight” Cr Power said.

See the extended article online at www.parkridgenews.com.au for greater depth and details.

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