Work is well underway at the ARTC progressing all 13 stages of the Inland Rail project, for construction to begin as early as the second quarter of 2018, the project’s manager has told Rail Express.
ARTC executive general manager for interstate, and current head of Inland Rail, Peter Winder, gave Rail Express a project update ahead of his presentation on day one of the Australasian Railway Association’s Rail Freight Conference, which will take place in Sydney on August 17 and 18.
While the ARTC has been developing Inland Rail for some time, he said the 2017 Budget’s injection of $8.4 billion in equity funding had put the project team into “full-on delivery mode”.
“We’re establishing a team that’s focused on getting planning approvals, getting the final design locked in, finalising the alignment, and moving to commence construction in, roughly, the second quarter of next year,” Winder said.
“It’s really good news for the industry.
“We’re recruiting a range of people to start the program off; I think we’ve got a headcount of just under 100 full time on the project.
“That’s a combination of project managers, engineering design, contract administrators, and so on. We’re engaging with local businesses for a lot of the preliminary engineering work, that will lead us into formal design, lodging the planning approvals, and getting on with the formal construction.”
The 1,700 kilometre Inland Rail route, linking Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, is divided into 13 sections.
“Obviously the issues in each [of the 13 sections] are different,” Winder explained.
“For example in the sections where it’s an upgrade of an existing railway line, that’s a simpler task than a new greenfield project, where you’ve got land acquisition and so on.
“So the level of resourcing and the timeline for each of the sections is different, but we’re progressing them all at once. Each has a separate project manager, with the resources to manage their project; to get us to the next stage.”
Winder will on August 17 be providing the ARA Rail Freight Conference with a full update on Inland Rail, and says he’s also looking forward to touching base with others in the industry.
“The positive thing is, there’s a lot going on in our business, and our broader industry. It’s a good opportunity to see how and where it’s going,” he said.
“Sometimes rail freight, in the public debate, gets lost a bit, because passenger rail dominates the conversation. But without freight, you’re not going to be able to feed the population.
“I think just that this conference is on, will help that profile – raising the importance of freight to the economy. In a lot of the public comment, you see that get lost in translation sometimes.”
Rail Express is an official media partner of the Australasian Railway Association’s Rail Freight Conference, which takes place on August 17 and 18 at the Intercontinental Sydney.