National Trunk Rail challenges Inland Rail, investing $10m

THE organisation behind the rival of the proposed Inland Rail initiative is bringing two international rail experts to Toowoomba today.

National Trunk Rail, the privately-backed consortium that plans to challenge the government-owned Australian Rail Track Corporation, has invested more than $10 million to develop a plan to build new rail infrastructure between Brisbane and Melbourne.

NTR general manager Rob Moffat said the company's proposal would prove to be cheaper than its rival since the new infrastructure would be suitable for high-speed rail and would not need any changes to fit different rail widths.

"NTR proposes alternative inland rail alignment that is 100% new rail infrastructure and is designed to provide the shortest straightest and flattest line from Brisbane to Toowoomba," he said.

"Only by getting that attribute right can you get freight moved from road to rail.

"The ARTC approach is to maximise the existing structure, which has more than 1000km of existing railway lines."

NTR has also flown in experts Professor Andrew McNaughton and Hans-Peter Vetch to meet with economic lobbyists Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise.

The company have confirmed they hope to sign the pair on as project advisors.

"Professor McNaughton is very much a learned fellow in rail - he chairs the World High-Speed Rail Committee," Mr Moffat said.

"In addition Hans-Peter Vetch was the safety and operations manager for the Gotthard Tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world.

"We're very hopeful we'll be able to attract them as advisors."

Mr Moffat, who has worked with Queensland Rail and Rolls-Royce in the past, said the Government should look to the future for major infrastructure investment.

"There's a lot of talk about high-speed rail, but why would we do that with old rails?" he said.

The company is chaired by ex-Thiess head Martin Albrecht, with firms such as Aurecon, Calibre, Allens-Linklaters and technology company Siemens backing the venture.

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