Since 2010, the Inland Rail project scope has been to ascertain the best possible route to ensure a 1,800m long, double-stacked freight train can travel from a freight terminal in Melbourne to a terminal in Brisbane (initially Acacia Ridge and since 2017 also Bromelton). This is because 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.
The natural agricultural catchment areas for exporting through the Port of Gladstone are the Wide Bay and Fitzroy regions. Primary producers in the Darling Downs or northern NSW regions who are expected to use and benefit significantly from Inland Rail would face considerably higher freight costs were they to be expected to rail their produce to Gladstone for distribution to domestic or export markets rather than via a faster, more cost-efficient Inland Rail connection to Brisbane or other domestic markets.
While there is no scope for the project to examine taking the rail line to Gladstone for the reasons outlined above, ultimately whether there is connection of Inland Rail to Gladstone is a matter for the Commonwealth Government.