The contract was awarded to JacobsGHD IR Joint Venture as part of the Australian government’s commitment to strengthen private sector investment in regional communities.
Council’s executive projects manager John Carleton spoke to Fairfax Media and said the awarding of the contract represented a significant progression in the rollout of the Inland Rail.
“This is a really encouraging development for the Moree Plains community as it brings Inland Rail one step closer to our doorstep,” Carleton said.
“Unlike the Narrabri-North Star project, the Narromine-Narrabri project does not run along an existing rail corridor and requires 300km of new track, making it the largest greenfield site of the whole Inland Rail project.
“During the design feasibility phase, ARTC will undertake detailed field investigations in the study area, which will help determine where in the study area the final 40-60m wide rail corridor will go.
“This is a critical section of the route for the Moree Plains as it provides our connection to the south, hence we strongly welcome the announcement that it is progressing through to the next phase.”
Inland Rail will provide unprecedented connection for regional Australia to domestic and international markets. It will complete the ‘spine’ of the national freight network between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
It’s the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia, with early works to start in Parkes Shire this year and is expected to be operational in 2024-2025.
“The Inland Rail is a once-in-a-generation project that has the potential to truly unleash the economic potential of the Moree Plains,” Carleton said.
“Not only will it provide huge benefits to our producers once completed, but has the potential to open up new industries for the region, with Moree positioned to continue its importance as a transport and logistics hub for the northwest and gateway to the New England region.”
In other developments, University of Southern Queensland (USQ) key innovation leaders have met with ARTC representatives to discuss Australia’s largest rail infrastructure project.
Inland Rail programme delivery manager Rob McNamara said that with the programme progressing in Queensland, and construction on the horizon in NSW, there would be many opportunities for innovative Australian businesses and organisations to benefit.
“When you think about what is required to deliver a 1700km-long project between Melbourne and Brisbane in terms of design, engineering, construction and the related materials, skills and expertise, there is a lot of potential scope for innovation,” McNamara said.
“USQ research leaders provided us with an overview of some of their latest technologies at a workshop in Toowoomba, and the future opportunities for Inland Rail and its contractors to work with USQ are exciting.
“It’s almost serendipitous that here in Toowoomba we have this world-class research facility dedicated to innovative construction materials, and right on its doorstep is the most significant single capital investment of the Inland Rail programme, the 6.4km tunnel down the Toowoomba range.”
USQ’s Centre for Future Materials is one of the leading research centres in the country with a reputation for pioneering research and development in composite materials.
Research priority areas include advanced composite manufacturing, civil composites, functional materials, geopolymer and advanced concrete with research providing novel design, manufacture and testing for a variety of sectors such as civil, construction, automotive, aerospace, space and defence.
USQ professor Peter Shubel said that the University had a 25-year history of developing cost-effective composites solutions for the civil and construction sectors addressing challenges such as weight, strength, sustainability and ease of manufacture.
“The ability for USQ to potentially engage in the Inland Rail programme offers a fantastic opportunity to develop new products and processes, which strengthen the business propositions of bidding consortiums whilst developing high-value knowledge and jobs in the region,” Schubel said.
“ARTC has explained to us the scale and expanse of the overall programme, and highlighted that the most technically complex section of Inland Rail requiring major tunnelling work, is occurring within our region.”
Construction works on the Narromine-Narrabri section will not commence until all necessary approvals have been received in approximately two years’ time. Construction on the Parkes-Narromine section of the 1700km-long project is set to commence sometime this year.
For more information about the Inland Rail project, click here.