The Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC) has been identified by both State and Federal Governments as a critical piece of infrastructure for North Queensland, with the Federal Government committing $150M in grant funding towards the project - a key initiative in the Townsville City Deal. The corridor would allow longer trains into the Port of Townsville, reduce bottlenecks and provide vital capacity for the growing tonnage demand on the Mount Isa to Townsville Rail Line, transforming the region.
It is disappointing, however, that once again North Queensland's development has been put on hold, with the State Government today announcing it will not fund the balance of the TEARC project as it doesn’t stack up at the moment. There is already a number of large scale projects currently in the pipeline, dependent on the construction of the TEARC, with this decision now placing those projects and the potential jobs they would create in limbo.
Whilst the decision on this project has been made based on low trade forecasts, the cost-benefit analysis did not include future projects, which would have resulted in a very different outcome. We are already experiencing considerable growth in the resources sector, but product from the North West Minerals Province is increasingly transported by road instead of rail, resulting in escalating inefficiencies in the logistical supply chain.
TEARC should not be considered in isolation, with both the State and Federal Government needing to look at the logistical corridor as a whole connection. We acknowledge the State Government's $75M commitment towards the Port's Channel Widening project, but there must be investment into the railway as well.
Townsville Enterprise encourages both Governments to put party politics aside and work cooperatively to coordinate their respective funding commitments. While we acknowledge both commitments, we now need a collaborative review of this critical supply chain to protect and support the future economic development of our region.