A SPATE of truck and heavy vehicle crashes in North-West Queensland has prompted calls for improved rail access in the region.
Regional development group MITEZ said there had been more serious accidents on the Flinders and Barkly Highways in the last 12 months which had resulted in in fatalities, significant road closures and environmental clean-ups.
MITEZ President David Glasson said there had been a fundamental change in transport logistics across the region as a lot of bulk product has been shifted from rail to road.
In part, this was to avoid the high cost of rail.
“Until recently, much of this product had been transported over these large distances by rail,” Mr Glasson said.
“The main impediment to getting more product off the road and onto the rail is the high cost or rail, which must be addressed.”
Mr Glasson said Queensland Government terms and conditions were structured for customers on the rail line, inclusive of price.
“Is it to be an enabler of growth and support the region’s economy and communities or is it simply a cash cow?” he queried.
Mr Glasson said an incentive would be to offer rail access arrangements that would make it more attractive to entice customers to use the rail system and this would in turn take some of the pressure off the road network and improve overall safety for all road users.
It comes as the State and Federal Government’s remain at a funding impasse over the Townsville Eastern Access Rail Corridor (TEARC).
Townsville City Council’s MITEZ representative Margie Ryder stated that in addition to supply-chain efficiency gains, the TEARC would alleviate traffic congestion and improve urban amenity for Townsville.
“Currently rail access goes through our city, causing traffic delays and noise issues,” Cr Ryder said.
“Providing access through the State Development area will remove freight trains from the centre of our city.”