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Sourcing critical railway upgrade funding needs cool heads and smart solutions
The 10-member Darling Downs and South-West Queensland (DDSWQ) council of mayors has agreed to proceed with a CSIRO freight analysis study designed to offer data to better inform funding applications for road infrastructure upgrades.
The CSRIO proposal aims to provide an evidence-based analysis approach which is likely to result in greater funding success for road infrastructure upgrades.
"Highlighting the most important roads to consider for funding, based on freight data, will ensure local authorities and the state government avoid duplication and work collaboratively to plan upgrades for key freight routes," Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio says.
"The mayors were pleased to hear about progress on the Ernst and Young stage three feasibility report into prospective capacity upgrades to the Western and West Moreton rail lines that feed into the planned Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail route."
The DDSQW mayors have consulted major interest groups such as cattle/ beef, cotton, grains and coal companies regarding their intended use of the upgraded rail lines.
"While the beef sector indicated there could be some limits on their freight plans on rail, the other sectors were most positive about the effects of the rail line upgrades for their transport operations," Antonio says.
The next step involves finalising costings with Queensland Rail before the Federal government considers the case.
The DDSQW council says it will develop strategies to address housing shortages across council areas.
"Economic development officers from the 10 councils are working with Regional Development Australia and the Department of State Development to tackle the shortage in suitable accommodation," Antonio says.
Included in the proposed upgrades are ways of increasing resources for primary producers to access more soil conservation planning, as well as establishing a Designated Area Migration Agreement to streamline visa applications for skilled migrants to assist key industries across the region.
"There are various skill gaps across the local authorities and this process, which mirrors a similar scheme operating successfully in Cairns, is one way to match workers to the areas of greatest need," Antonio says.
This article first appeared on www.fullyloaded.com.au
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