INTERCONNECTIVITY is crucial in ensuring the success of Inland Rail, organisers of a conference in Toowoomba concluded.

The 2019 Inland Rail Conference last week was presented by the Australian Logistics Council and Australasian Railway Association.

In a conclusive statement, organisers said it was crucial for rail to connect with ports and intermodals.

“While Inland Rail will play a critical role as a ‘spine’ in our freight network, it will ultimately rely on connections to other key freight infrastructure, including intermodal hubs and ports,” the statement read.

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“Port connectivity is [also) critical. Separation of passenger and freight rail in our cities is critical for our supply chain efficiency. The release of the joint study undertaken by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments into freight rail links between the Acacia Ridge and the Port of Brisbane should be expedited.”

New freight precincts must also incorporate viable rail links, according to the statement.

Australasian Railway Association chief executive Danny Broad said the large number of mayors and councillors who attended the Inland Rail Conference provided a timely reminder that Inland rail will offer positive legacies.

ALC chief executive Kirk Coningham said the conference showed there was genuine excitement about Inland Rail.

“Now is the time to leverage that enthusiasm by ensuring that all levels of government are working collaboratively with industry to make certain Inland Rail is a piece of freight infrastructure that delivers the efficiencies needed to meet changing consumer expectations and helps our exporters get their goods to market,” he said.

ARTC Inland Rail chief executive Richard Wankmuller said all parties now realised that Inland Rail is a reality.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and it’s time to get on board,” he said.

There was a sad moment during the conference with the announcement of the death of former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, a strong rail advocate.

Delegates paid tribute to his decades of service with a standing ovation. The next Inland Rail conference will be in Albury next year.

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