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Government releases Delivery Plan to build Inland Rail

Beef Central, 14/09/2015

The Federal Government has released a 10 year construction timeframe to complete the 1700km Inland Rail project connecting Melbourne to Brisbane.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss released the delivery plan for the high performance freight line last week.

The plan includes around 600km of new track, and puts the cost at $10 billion.

“This Report and Business Case (prepared by the Australian Rail Track Corporation) provides the information needed to consider how best to build the Inland Rail network to meet the freight challenge of the coming decades – expected to treble along the eastern seaboard to 2030,” Mr Truss said.

He said Inland Rail will initially provide for 1800 metre long trains carrying containers stacked two high and, in the longer term, much heavier 3600 metre long trains.

“The new freight line will reduce transit time between Melbourne and Brisbane by more than 10 hours – reducing the journey to less than a day. It will remove 200,000 trucks, or 5.4 billion net tonne kilometres of freight, from roads each year.

“For the first time, south east Queensland will connect by rail to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, avoiding the need for freight to transit through the congested Sydney network. Inland Rail will reduce the distance between Melbourne and Brisbane by 200 km and carve 500 km from the Brisbane to Perth trip.”

Mr Truss said the Australian Government has already committed $300 million to get pre-construction activities underway, including detailed corridor planning, environmental assessments and priority land acquisitions. This work is continuing.

“The project will create up to 16,000 direct jobs during a 10-year construction period and a regular 600 jobs once operating,” Mr Truss said.

“The Delivery Plan indicates Inland Rail will generate economic benefits of around $22.5 billion.

“Importantly, the Implementation Group has identified that an early commitment to Inland Rail will give certainty for businesses and will allow the private sector to invest in complementary projects leveraging Inland Rail’s enhanced logistics benefits.

“The Implementation Group’s analysis indicates that there is some scope for private sector funding, however, the release of this Report will now allow potential investors to consider the merits of the proposal. If viable alternatives emerge that are substantiated by evidence, these would be considered on their merits and referred to Infrastructure Australia as appropriate.

“As with any project of this magnitude, it is important that Australian Government fully considers the project and how best to implement and fund it. As part of our consideration, I am referring the business case to Infrastructure Australia.”

National Farmers’ Federation President Brent Finlay said the delivery plan provides a strong basis for investment.

“The Inland Rail will connect our three largest agricultural states, which generate $34 billion worth of farm output annually, and give our farmers better access to markets domestically and overseas,” Mr Finlay said.

“Providing key regional centres throughout NSW, Victoria and Queensland with a direct connection to ports and major urban centres will supercharge the economy west of the Dividing Range. It will make the choice for businesses to invest in regional Australia even smarter.

“Coupled with targeted investments in port and air freight terminals, the Inland Rail will play a pivotal role in maximising Australia’s value from new trade deals, including the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

“Australia is geographically gifted with proximity to the world’s fastest growing customer base. With the right infrastructure, we can have produce from Australian farms to the plate of Asian consumers on the very same day.

“At a time when the national economy is plagued by fragility, Inland Rail is just what we need to invigorate confidence – particularly in agriculture, one of Australia’s great growth opportunities.

“The Inland Rail will make Australia’s supply chain safer and more efficient – generating jobs and growth, and unlocking opportunity in Australian agriculture.

“We need this project funded and built. Farmers will be expecting to see bipartisan support for action heading into upcoming budget and election cycles. It’s an opportunity too good to defer.”

Source: Federal Government, NFF. The full Inland Rail Implementation Group Report is available online at www.infrastructure.gov.au/rail/inland/.

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