Alpha given approval for rail line

HANCOCK Coal's $6.4 billion Alpha coal mine has been given approval to build its 500km rail line as four others - including Clive Palmer's Waratah Coal and BHP Billiton - were all but ruled out.

The State Government thinned out the list of six new planned rail lines for Central Queensland to just two in an effort to stop a maze of industrial tracks dissecting the landscape.

Hancock and partner GVK will be bound to allow other firms to use the infrastructure, creating a north-south corridor running from near Alpha to Abbot Point, via Moranbah.

A 500m-wide swathe has been mapped out by the state, large enough to allow a second rail line if it was ever necessary.
Until then, those mines that follow Hancock's lead - particularly Mr Palmer's nearby Waratah Coal project - will have to negotiate to use the line.

The company that develops the line will have to compensate the owners of the 40 properties it crosses - including mine exploration sites - which will then be forcibly resumed by the government.

Any wayward applicants wanting their own line would now struggle to secure the land.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the two chosen were the practical options to serve all those projects currently in discussion.

"They all have some way to get the coal to the port," Mr Seeney said.

The Deputy Premier said he consulted with all applicants involved, none of whom would readily compromise on the infrastructure.

This decision would give some certainty to what was available, because he said six rail lines were never going to happen.

The second rail line would travel east-to-west, connecting the Galilee Basin to the coal infrastructure already in place in the Bowen Basin.

It is based on a plan from QR National and Adani, which would likely also develop the link and deliver 2500 jobs during construction.

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