Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Consultation Runs off the Rails

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Consultation Runs off the Rails

Article excerpt

THOSE of us in Toowoomba may or may not have heard about recent moves by Queensland Rail to cancel more freight train services.

I'm sure our friends from Cunnamulla and Charleville, or from Winton and Biloela, have heard this news very clearly. They will be very informed about this decision, because for them it will have a more tangible impact.

It seems that a little over a week ago, Queensland Rail announced that it had cancelled some services on the south-western lines, because of a short-term locomotive supply. Apparently there was no indication of which services had been cancelled, or for how long.

For people living in Quilpie or Cunnamulla, or places along the way, this news is likely to be a cause of great concern.

Not only are groceries, other food items and general freight transported into these towns by rail, but freight, grain and livestock are also transported out via the same service.

The uncertainty about ongoing train services offers yet another source of concern for residents of our far-flung rural and isolated areas.

Here is yet another basic service apparently being withdrawn from rural centres.

Various interpretations of this move are possible.

These begin with the presumption that Queensland Rail is likely to discontinue its dedicated freight service to the south-west, along with similar services in central Queensland. Another interpretation is the suggestion that the government is withdrawing those parts of QR that make less profit as it prepares to privatise rail services across the state.

Obviously, this is a complex issue, with positive outcomes for some, and undesirable effects for other people involved.

There are no simple answers.

Of course, there is the option of transporting grain, livestock and freight by road. But there are also varying implications of that alternative - good for trucking companies and drivers, not so good for the environment, for the state of the roads, or for those concerned about bigger and heavier vehicles on our roadways.

When issues like this arise, I am reminded that there are a few simple questions that are helpful to ask when faced with complex situations or decisions. …

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