A 6.5km tunnel through the Toowoomba Range will form part of the ambitious Inland Rail project in south-east Queensland.
Inland Rail has announced it has opened expressions of interest for a section of the project from Gowrie, near Toowoomba, to Kagaru, near Beaudesert.
Chief executive officer Richard Wankmuller said the Gowrie to Kagaru section was the most technically complex of the entire project and included the tunnel through the Toowoomba Range.
He said the tunnel would be the largest diameter diesel freight tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr Wankmuller said he expected a strong field to formally lodge notification of their interest in the public-private partnership which will build the line.
“We are at an exciting stage marking the commencement of the formal procurement process for this major component of the Inland Rail project,” he said.
“There is a clear benefit in going to the market now through expressions of interest, so all interested parties may become aware at a relatively early stage of key requirements from both the Australian and Queensland governments.
“The geology and topography of this section, which is located mostly within protected corridors, pose many challenges and we are currently undertaking further site investigations to give us a better understanding of the conditions and inform the final design.
“The more involved potential partners are while we are undertaking investigations and working to progress the three project environmental impact statements, the better those parties will be able to adjust their thinking on potential design solutions and innovative construction methods.”
Mr Wankmuller said the launch of expressions of interest again sent a message to the market that work on the Inland Rail project was progressing.
“The Australian Rail Track Corporation is focused on the timely delivery of Inland Rail on behalf of the Australian Government, in partnership with the private sector and hand in hand with the community,” he said.
“Inland Rail will create a more resilient rail network, with multiple pathways to create a safe, sustainable, integrated solution that will help address Australia’s current freight inefficiencies.
“Inland Rail will help capture commercial opportunities in both metropolitan and regional areas through more efficient and commercially responsive supply chains and enhance Australia’s ability to compete on the world market.”