THE Darling Downs region is set to benefit from a number of significant infrastructure projects including the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, Toowoomba Second Range Crossing and the Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail.
These infrastructure projects will further add to the state’s growth by improving access to road, rail, air and port facilities, creating employment and ultimately leading to increased productivity and export capability, an agribusiness paper prepared by Colliers suggests.
Importantly, the agribusiness and industrial property sectors will benefit through a ‘seismic shift’ in the food supply chain distribution network, Colliers’ report said.
Colliers research analyst Helen Swanson said there were wide-ranging benefits associated with the current and future infrastructure planned for the greater Darling Downs region.
“Infrastructure has the ability to drive economic growth, improve supply chain efficiencies, create employment, improve productivity and in some instances drive property prices,” she said.
Some of the benefits outlined in the paper included:
- Improved supply chain efficiencies and hence productivity of food and transport and logistic sectors
- Opening up the agriculture sector to external markets
- Contributing to gross and regional state product and hence broader improvement in economic conditions
- Reduced transportation time and associated costs
- Likelihood of improving/contributing to overall economic outcomes for greater community – jobs, income etc.
- Reduced carbon emissions and gases, reduced congestion on major arterial roads and improved safety
Colliers’ Paddock to Port report investigates a number of recently added and planned infrastructure projects located in the Darling Downs region and looks at their current and likely future impact on the agribusiness and industrial property sector across the region.
The infrastructure projects reviewed in the paper include the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC), Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport (BWWA) and the Brisbane/Melbourne Inland Rail project.
“Combined these infrastructure projects are likely to see a change in the way food and perishables are efficiently transported to their desired markets within the region, hence resulting in a change in the food supply chain network and opening up the region to new export markets,” Ms Swanson said.
With many large producers operating in the agriculture sector across the greater Darling Downs, there is significant demand for capacity in the freight network and or a strategic area offering an inland port. Concurrently, like all physical supply chains, the food supply chain is dependent on a range of infrastructure for continuity of production, processing, distribution and retail— power, water, financial services, communications and transport services.”
One particular factor contributing to the current inefficiency of the food logistics sector across Queensland and the nation was deteriorating infrastructure, the report said.
Major Infrastructure Projects
Several major infrastructure projects have been secured for the Toowoomba region which will ensure improved access to road, rail, air and port facilities providing the opportunity for increased export capability, the report said.
- Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) – a vital road infrastructure project which will help drive Queensland’s economic growth by providing a gateway to the resource rich Surat Basin and the agricultural food bowl of the Darling Downs. It is anticipated that the TSRC will bring $2.4 billion over 30 years of economic and productivity gain for business and industry to Toowoomba. When completed, the crossing will significantly increase the movement of freight along the national road network. With an estimated construction period of around three years (from late 2015), the project will be delivered using a Public Private Partnership delivery model with anticipated completion date of late 2018.
- The Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport which became operational in November 2014. The 300ha airport with its 2.87km runway and 8000 sq m terminal provides interstate, intrastate and international connectivity for the Darling Downs, Granite Belt, Surat Basin and Southern Downs regions. Immediately adjacent to the airport and aviation precinct is the proposed Wellcamp Business Park. This 500ha land estate is being developed into a modern business park which will become the commerce and industry hub of Toowoomba and regional south east Queensland. The airport also now provides regular international freight operations servicing North Asia. Cathay Pacific Airways started operating a weekly scheduled air cargo service out of the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport from late last year. The 747J8F service between Toowoomba and Hong Kong is southern Queensland’s only scheduled international airfreight – only service. As a result of the new service agricultural produce such as chilled meat and other perishables are able to fly directly to Asia from the region which they are produced and enable the capacity for the growth of trade. As part of the work on the TSRC and Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport, the Toowoomba-Cecil Plains Road interchange will serve as a connection point and is located approximately 2km from the airport. This will result in an intermodal link offering air and road freight to efficiently distribute agricultural and food produce to the greater South East Queensland domestic markets.
- The Melbourne/Brisbane Inland Rail Project, a key national project building an Inland Railway between Melbourne and Brisbane via central-west NSW and Toowoomba that will enhance the existing rail network and serve the Australian interstate freight market. The announcement of the approval of the Melbourne – Brisbane Inland Rail will bring immense capacity and demand for transport and logistic distribution hubs in regional cities such as Toowoomba. The inland rail project will provide a high-capacity freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane through regional Australia connecting cities, farms, and mines via ports to domestic and international markets. The inland rail will pass through four major productive agricultural regions, and takes advantage of 1,200km of existing rail corridor and will involve the construction of around 500km of new track. The track will enable the use of double-stacked, 1,800m long trains with a 21 tonne axle load at a maximum speed of 115km/h, allowing for the transit of greater freight volumes. Each train could carry the equivalent freight volume as 110 B-double trucks. It is proposed the new rail route will be up to 10 hours faster than the existing coastal rail network via Sydney.
The impact of the above projects could substantially change the food supply distribution network currently in place across greater South East of Queensland, but more particularly the Darling Downs region, the report found.
Click here to access to full Colliers ‘Paddock to Port’ report