CHANGING TRACKS: A newly proposed alignment for the Inland Rail Project would divert the line away from the towns of Gatton, Forest Hill and Laidley.
CHANGING TRACKS: A newly proposed alignment for the Inland Rail Project would divert the line away from the towns of Gatton, Forest Hill and Laidley. Dominic Elsome

Proposal to shift Inland Rail away from towns

A NEW alignment for the controversial Inland Rail Project has been proposed at a recent community meeting in Forest Hill.

At the meeting on Monday evening, members of the Lockyer Valley Community Consultative Committee presented a proposed alignment to ARTC staff that would largely utilise existing easements along the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and Warrego Highway routes, allowing the rail line to by-pass the townships of Gatton, Forest Hill and Laidley.

The proposal would also have the existing West Moreton Rail Line removed, labelling it a "flood hazard” that provides only "historical value” to the Lockyer Valley.

The current alignment ARTC is investigating largely follows the existing West Moreton Rail Line.

Community members have raised concerns about the current rail line's existing flood issues as well as further disruptions and safety issues to small towns caused by double-stacked freight trains as long as 1.8 kilometres travelling along the route.

Forest Hill Community Development Association representative on the committee Kenneth Moore co-presented the proposal with Gordon Van der Est and said the route was not only safer - but also potentially cheaper.

"Forest Hill Community Development Association are trying to find a balance,” Mr Moore said.

"Its about a balance for the Valley.”

Community Consultative Committee chairperson Dr Mark Hohenhaus said the proposal was well received by both members of the public and ARTC representatives.

"The reaction we received from the ARTC staff was positive, they even thanked the people that put forward this proposal,” Dr Hohenhaus said.

"They seem to be listening to us, they are taking on-board what is being said.”

ARTC did not confirm whether further investigations were being conducted into the proposed alignment, but a spokesperson called for more community feedback on the project.

"We welcome people's feedback on the alignment, it's an important part of the next step in the process which is the Environmental Impact Statement,” the spokesperson said.

"We will be having more consultation sessions and the Community Consultative Committees are also a good way for people to have their say, or they can call us on 1800 732 761.”