Coal rail line will likely proceed

THE Surat Basin coal rail line now appears certain to proceed after a bill to create the railway was read for a second time in state parliament on Thursday.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, will likely pass the Queensland parliament during the next sitting week.

It creates exemptions for the 214km privately-owned railway from some provisions under the Property Law Act and ensures the railway will complement existing state laws.

The proposed railway will link coalfields in the Surat Basin near Wandoan to a terminal in Banana, before linking with the Wiggins Island Export Terminal rail line to export coal through Gladstone.

It was funded by three main groups, including QR Surat Basin Rail and Xstrata Coal Surat Basin, and proponents have promoted its potential to also transport some general freight in addition to coal.

State Development Minister Jeff Seeney said the government gave the joint venture an exclusive mandate to build the railway, as long as the state secured land for the rail corridor and granted the companies tenure rights to ensure the line goes ahead.

The mandate was first secured by the previous Labor Government, with the Newman Government following through, with some changes, on the initial proposal.