Works have commenced on a major rail upgrade along the Toowoomba Range which includes increasing the height of 11 rail tunnels on the Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Ranges.
The work will see the creation of 100 jobs and when finished enable the transport of containerised freight by rail from the Darling Downs and South West Queensland Regions directly to the Port of Brisbane.
Foundation and preparation works have commenced with further preparation works to be undertaken during a scheduled track closure of the western rail line at the end of February. The first tunnel bases will be lowered during a major track closure in April.
The lowering of 11 rail tunnel floors on the Toowoomba and Little Liverpool Ranges will create the clearance necessary to transport 9’6” high cube freight shipping containers via rail, increasingly being used to export goods.
This project will lower 11 heritage listed railway tunnel floors, including two tunnels on the Little Liverpool range at Laidley and nine tunnels on the Toowoomba Range.
The tunnels are stone and brick lined and were constructed in the 1860s on Australia’s first main rail line through the Great Dividing Range.
BMD Constructions and design partners WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, have completed the detailed design for the project, and Queensland Rail will continue to work with them during the construction phase. Work is epcted to take baotu 12 months to complete.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey says the project is vital one.
“This project has the potential to help reduce the quantity of heavy vehicles required to transport freight on the highway from South West Queensland to the Port, improving safety and reducing the impact on our roads.”
Michelle Reynolds, CEO of InterlinkSQ – a major intermodal freight hub being constructed West of Toowoomba – is one advocate for the project.
“The tunnel upgrade forms an important building block in the future of rail freight, and most importantly, demonstrates the State Government’s commitment to the creation and protection of jobs for our state.”