Major enhancements have been made to the planning, design and delivery of Inland Rail to improve safety, efficiency and support thousands of additional jobs.
The improved design now includes more than 4500 additional culverts, nine additional viaducts, an additional 6.8 kilometres of bridges, 10 extra grade separations, approximately 450 kilometres of additional fencing, as well as removing 139 level crossings.
The enhancements are a result of work done by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to progress designs, to engage with communities and undertake the detailed analysis required to build the 1700 kilometre rail line, including approximately 600 kilometres of greenfield track.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said the enhancements would lead to a safer and more efficient Inland Rail as well as deliver significant benefits for regional communities, businesses and jobs.
“Inland Rail is a jobs bonanza. It’s already supporting thousands of jobs, has already started to generate billions in economic activity and will eventually lead to a boost of more than $18 billion Gross Domestic Product during construction and in the first 50 years of operation,” he said.
“These enhancements will provide for greater local investment, mean Inland Rail will now support more than 21,500 jobs at the peak of construction and deliver an extra economic boost of $2 billion.
“Australian communities and industries have asked for more from this national infrastructure project and we have listened.”
McCormack said the enhancements to the Inland Rail network will deliver more contracts for local businesses and more work for Australians at a time when we need them most.
“Inland Rail isn’t just being built by the big companies and Tier 1 contractors – across Australia businesses of all sizes are tendering for work and benefiting from the construction of Inland Rail,” he said.
“This world-class freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will be the ‘spine’ of the national freight network, enabling travel between Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours, while connecting major ports and all mainland state capitals.”
Enhancements will be made possible through an additional injection of up to $5.5 billion of equity into ARTC.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the Federal Government’s investment in Inland Rail would be a game-changer to how freight is moved within Australia.
“Every dollar our Government invests in Inland Rail is a dollar spent for the benefit of our regional communities, businesses, jobs and our economic recovery.
“This is about being responsive to the needs of the farmers, businesses and communities who will rely on Inland Rail.
“We’re making improvements to the design to deliver a more efficient network while at the same time supporting even more jobs and more economic activity.”
The first section of Inland Rail, between Parkes and Narromine, is now completed. In that section alone, more than 1,800 people worked on the project, including more than 762 local residents and 302 Indigenous workers. Almost $110 million was spent with local businesses, whilst 14,000 tonnes of Whyalla Steel worth $20 million was used.
Work has now started on the 171-kilometre Narrabri to North Star section, which will support thousands of jobs in north-western NSW and will use approximately 25,000 tonnes of Whyalla Steel and 341,000 Australian made concrete sleepers.
ARTC is also currently working with the New South Wales Government to respond to submissions made during the public exhibition of the North Star to Queensland Border EIS, which closed October 2020.