Under the terms of access undertakings with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), ARTC is required to operate an open access rail network allowing customers the opportunity to access train paths according to demand and availability. ARTC cannot determine which freight goods are moved on its network as that is a matter for the freight companies, in accordance with relevant federal and state legislative requirements. Whether coal trains, or any trains, operate in future on Inland Rail is not a matter for ARTC to determine but a matter for the relevant freight companies, including coal mines.
Once Inland Rail is fully operational from 2025 it will be a matter for the Queensland Government, through Queensland Rail, to determine whether it maintains the existing QR network at the current standard. It will also be a commercial matter for coal train operators as to whether they continue to use the existing QR line via Ipswich and the densely populated inner western suburbs of Brisbane or whether they access Inland Rail.
The Business Case completed for the Inland Rail project includes provision for the transport of coal from mines in the Surat and Clarence-Moreton Basins in southern Queensland.
It should be noted that the majority of freight forecast to be transported on Inland Rail is inter-capital city, non-bulk freight that is destined for domestic markets in Melbourne and Brisbane and immediate surrounds. Such freight includes whitegoods, beverages, food, grocery items etc.