COMMUNITY'S VOICE: ATRC's Lockyer Valley Community Consultative Committee.
COMMUNITY'S VOICE: ATRC's Lockyer Valley Community Consultative Committee. Dominic Elsome

What's in it for us?

MORE than two dozen community members attended the Lockyer Valley Inland Rail Community Consultative Committee's second meeting in Gatton last Wednesday night.

Representatives from the Australian Rail Track Corporation, the group tasked with completing the $10 billion Inland Rail project, gave an update on the progress of the project to the committee.

The general mood in the room was sceptical, with several committee members asking "What's in it for us?”

One committee member declared: "This railway line is not going to give one dollar to the Lockyer Valley.”

Committee member, and former Lockyer MP, IanRickuss questioned whether the freight companies that were major proponents of the project would contribute any funding to it.

"Do these companies have any skin in the game or is it just us taxpayers?”

The major concerns committee members raised during the meeting was economic impact to the Lockyer Valley, and potential flooding caused by the new corridor, with many noting the existing rail line already caused problems during flooding events.

Katharine Brady, representing Lockyer Valley Tourism, said she had concerns about the detriment to the region's visual amenities, stating tourists came in large numbers to the area for its picturesque views.

She submitted that investigations should be made into ensuring infrastructure was not "purely utilitarian”, and suggested infrastructure could be designed to compliment the natural surroundings.

At the end of the meeting, the floor was opened for questions with many saying the community had grown tired of the lack of information about the project.

Speaking after the meeting committee chairman Dr Mark Hohenhaus said it was still early days for both the project and the committee, and encouraged community members to talk to the committee about their concerns.

"The committee is looking forward to seeing the outputs of the initial environmental impact statement investigations when they become available.”

"Going forward, it is important for people to engage with committee members, and some committee members will be pro-actively setting up meetings or opportunities for the people they're representing to know what's going on.”

The proposed rail line would link Melbourne and Brisbane, and allow double-stacked cargo trains as long as 1800 metres to travel between the two major cities in less than 24 hours.

The federal government claims that the project, when completed, will take thousands of trucks off the roads. The project is still being assessed for feasibility, with trains not expected to complete the 1700 km journey until at least 2024.

The committee will meet for a third time in June, at a date to be confirmed.