THE federal government has committed funding to investigate extending Inland Rail from Toowoomba to the Port of Gladstone.

The government is to provide up to $10 million to investigate the viability of the additional connection.

Transport and infrastructure minister Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said extending Inland Rail from Toowoomba could deliver better rail connectivity to the Port of Gladstone and expand access to import and export markets for Australian businesses and industry.

“Inland Rail is transforming regional Australia, driving jobs growth and creating new economic opportunities for communities along the line and our exporting industries,” Mr Joyce said.

“Extending the line to Gladstone would ensure the benefits of this nation-building piece of infrastructure are felt farther and wider, creating more jobs during construction, supporting existing jobs in the region, and better connecting our resources industries and agricultural producers to another major export gateway.

“The connection to Gladstone would be in addition to our existing commitment to take Inland Rail to Brisbane.”

Federal member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said enhancing Australia’s freight network is vital to improving productivity and supporting economic growth well into the future.

“Our government has listened to calls to explore this extension to the Port of Gladstone and this business case demonstrates our commitment to delivering for our regions and for Queenslanders,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“Inland Rail is already creating jobs, transforming our regions and stimulating new revenue and growth opportunities for businesses in every state and territory across Australia.

“The Deputy Prime Minister and I have consistently advocated for the extension of Inland Rail to Gladstone and this business case ensures that the idea is thoroughly tested.

“Our commitment also aligns with opportunities identified by Infrastructure Australia’s Priority List for the Port of Gladstone Sea and Land Upgrade initiative.”

In his Friday address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Joyce said the 1716-kilometre Inland Rail would be a “corridor of commerce”.

“This week we announced $20 million of the billion-dollar leg from just north of the New South Wales border to Gowrie, near Toowoomba. 170 kilometres, 34 bridges, 900 culverts and 950 full-time employees,” he said.

“This comes after over 13,634 pages of merely the environmental impact statement from 71 scientists, 90 degrees with a combined experience over 1,000 years. I hope that makes it clear why I say now ‘Just get on with it’.

“Inland Rail will be the seed for the construction of an inland port at Parkes. It will create jobs in manufacturing in Tamworth and steel production at Whyalla. It will create new opportunities in Goondiwindi and grow the cities of Albury and Toowoomba. The Inland Rail will enhance economies at the bookends of Brisbane and Melbourne.”