Budget 2018: Toowoomba to Brisbane passenger rail funds
EXCLUSIVE: Toowoomba could become to Brisbane what the Blue Mountains are to Sydney with the Federal Government spending $15 million on a passenger rail business case.
The Chronicle can reveal the Toowoomba to Brisbane passenger rail link business case will be the first funded under $250 million Major Project Business Fund announced in last night's Budget.
Groom MP John McVeigh said the link would "literally change the future of the entire Toowoomba region".
"Passenger rail would benefit the Toowoomba region with increased access for jobs, tourism, health care and housing," Dr McVeigh said.
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"It would also give further impetus to the development of the Wellcamp Airport as an alternative for the growth corridor west of Brisbane, as well as lead to a further tourism boost for Toowoomba to become the mountain retreat of Brisbane, akin to the Blue Mountains of Sydney."
The long-term project is part of the Turnbull Government's 10-year infrastructure investment strategy.
The business case will investigate a range of route options, including upgrades to existing rail lines to combine passenger and freight rail, as well as route staging and timing of construction, and type of rolling stock.
"A detailed business case is a critical step in the process and will help determine the economic, environmental and social costs and benefits of potential rail options and the potential to improve access for communities to services and employment," Dr McVeigh said.
"For some time, I have been advocating for the next big step beyond the Second Range Crossing and the Inland Freight Rail - this is it.
"After decades of discussion and dreaming, this will help take this idea from the drawing board to delivery."
Treasurer Scott Morrison last night announced the $250 million Major Project Business Fund to drive infrastructure projects and development across the country.
"Toowoomba is a city on the move," Dr McVeigh said.
"It is an exciting time to be part of our growing community and see the many opportunities arise from big investments to infrastructure improvements in the region currently under way."