The first sod on phase one of the Narrabri to the North Star section of Inland Rail was turned on Friday, November 27 in the north-western NSW town of Moree.
The occasion marked the beginning of construction on the 171 kilometre project, involving track upgrades to the existing rail corridor to support double-stacked freight trains and increase reliability and efficiency on the line.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that the Narrabri to North Star leg would be the next step in the project.
“This year we completed the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine, which has enhanced the connectivity of the national network, joining the east-west Perth line to the north and south spine,” he said.
Earlier in November, the Trans4m joint venture was awarded the $693.8m contract. Phase two of the project, which building new track across the Mehi Gwydir floodplain and upgrading 15km of existing track is currently in the environmental assessment and technical investigation stage.
Phase one is expected to support 500 jobs with the contractor, with benefits to flow to local subcontractors and suppliers in regional NSW.
The $693.8 million construction effort on Narrabri and North Star brings immediate stimulus to the regional communities of Narrabri, Bellata, Moree, Croppa Creek and North Star and those townships in between,” McCormack said.
“In real terms, it means more money spent locally, more money spent with local, regional and Australian businesses at the same time as building an asset that will benefit our nation for generations.”
Once complete, the Narrabri to North Star section will enable regional businesses in north-western NSW access to local and international markets. A report from consulting firm EY earlier in 2020 found that Inland Rail would deliver a $1.7 billion boost to Northern NSW over a 50 year period with economic uplift through supply chain efficiencies and the formation of industry hubs.
“Inland Rail is necessary to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task for the next 50 years, and all levels of government are working together to leverage the long-term benefits of Inland Rail to attract new businesses to regional Australia,” said local member Mark Coulton.
“From the special activation precinct in Moree to Narrabri’s Inland Port, private businesses and industry are setting up shop because they can see the long-term growth Inland Rail is bringing to these regional communities.”