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Australia's Largest Railway Project Gets Green Light


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Photo courtesy of Grain Central

Following two years of environmental assessments and consultation, planning approval was granted in early September for the Parkes to Narromine section of the Inland Rail.

The 1,700km railway line is considered to be the “spine” of a national freight network connecting Brisbane and Melbourne via regional Queensland, NSW and Victoria. In fact, it is the largest rail infrastructure project in Australia, expected to be complete in 2024-25.

It is designed to connect our ports, farms, mines and cities to global markets, supporting the countries most prosperous farming regions and providing supply chain benefits and cost savings for producers.

In 2017, the Federal Government selected the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to deliver the multi-billion dollar ($9.3 billion) infrastructure in partnership with the private sector. 

 The planning approval is a significant milestone and expects the first track for the Inland Rail project to be laid this year.

Inland Rail’s newly appointed CEO, Richard Wankmuller says the planning approval is a significant milestone and expects the first track for the inland Rail project to be laid this year. He is also optimistic about the local employment opportunities the project will bring to the central west of NSW. 

“We’re hearing from the Central West community that people are energised about the Inland Rail project, and we thank them for their continued input and feedback,” Wankmuller said. “Ultimately, we want to build the best possible rail line and ensure locals benefit as much as possible.

“All the wheels are in motion for the construction phase to move forward. Just last month, industry briefings calling for expressions of interest (EOI) for work required on the route were held in Parkes, Narromine and Dubbo. We have had keen interest from the community so far.” 

Recent meetings calling for expressions of interest were run by preferred construction contractor INLink in Dubbo, Narromine and Parkes. They attracted an estimated 400 bidders and local companies. INLink is a joint venture between BMD Constructions and Fulton Hogan.

When asked about Parkes to Narromine section of the project, Mark Stevens, ARTC NSW Senior Project Manager for Inland Rail, said: “We expect over 200 people to be employed to construct the Parkes to Narromine section of the Inland Rail. In addition, a broad range of services will be required which we hope to procure locally as much as possible, including, but not limited to concrete supply services, transportation, fencing, earthmoving, drainage, electrical works, concrete works, security and water bore drilling. The list is extensive.”

The INLink joint venture companies have extensive experience, with Fulton Hogan having more than 80 years’ experience in the transport, water, energy, mining, civil construction and land development infrastructure in New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific. Recent projects include the Melbourne Tram Track Renewal in 2013 and the ongoing Auckland Light Rail project.

BMD is a national group of companies engaged in engineering design, construction and land development for clients and partners in the urban development, transport infrastructure and resources and energy sectors. It recently completed the Townsville Airport Regular Passenger Transport Apron Development.

Two main site offices for the Parkes to Narromine section of the Inland rail are scheduled to open in coming months in Parkes and Peak Hill. They’re going to service the project and will complement the recently opened Inland Rail Community Working Hub in Parkes.

The 104 kilometre Inland Rail section from Parkes to Narromine will utilise most of the existing rail corridor, already operated by ARTC as part of its interstate rail freight network, and a newly built 5.3km long rail connection to the Broken Hill line to the west of Parkes. Construction work will involve track formation, upgrading the track and culverts, as well as providing additional flexibility through three new crossing loops at Goonumbla, Peak Hill and Timjelly.

“Central West NSW stands to benefit significantly from Inland Rail, and we appreciate how important it is for people to understand the proposals and plans for their local area,” Mr Wankmuller said. “We thank the community for their contribution in marking this important milestone on the project.”

Mark Stevens echoed that sentiment saying: “Ensuring we use local suppliers is top of mind for ARTC and INLink. Registering and EOI to offer services on the Parkes to Narromine section with INLink will not preclude companies or traders from bidding for work on other sections of the Inland Rail route. There will be many more opportunities as Inland Rail progresses, so we encourage local businesses of all shapes and sizes to submit their details.”

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