The federal government has committed to a $44 million program to improve connectivity between country rail lines and the future Inland Rail route.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack on August 21 said the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program (the II Program) would help ensure the Inland Rail project forms a fast, reliable and cost-competitive solution for regional freight customers.
“It’s vitally important we invest in infrastructure, such as Inland Rail, to reduce costs and meet the growing freight task,” McCormack said.
“We’re serious about helping regional supply chains reduce their costs to connect to new markets and the opportunities that Inland Rail provides. It is truly the backbone of the national freight network.”
Under the program, $24 million will be spent to assess the costs and benefits of proposed improvements to country lines that will interact with Inland Rail. Another $20 million will be set aside for business cases looking at ways to further enhance supply chain productivity.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development will work with state and local governments, community, track operators and supply chain managers to canvass ideas and identify industry preferences for projects funded for consideration under the II Program.
Facilitating this process is a larger network of regional offices, with sites now in Dubbo, Toowoomba, Wodonga and, soon, Moree.
Regional services, decentralisation and local government minister Mark Coulton said an ongoing interface with regional communities and industry was vital to the program.
“These departmental staff, living and working in our regions, provide a way for local people to talk to the Australian Government face-to-face about the suite of opportunities and benefits that Inland Rail will deliver,” Coulton said.
“These local connections are especially important as we deliver the $44 million Interface Improvement Program over the next two years. The II Program is one of many pathways for communities, industry and local government to drive further freight and agriculture productivity from Inland Rail and put the case forward for connecting their region.”