The environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Narrabri to North Star leg of Inland Rail has been approved, paving the way for construction to begin before the end of 2020.
The EIS is one of the final approvals required for the project, with the section already approved by NSW planning authorities.
The leg from Narrabri to North Star involves upgrading 186km of existing rail corridor and 2.3km of new track construction.
Inland Rail was one of 15 projects fast tracked under federal government regulation in June this year. This enabled the project to pass state and federal approvals quickly and be ready for construction sooner.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that by passing this latest stage in approval, more benefits could flow to the communities along the alignment.
“Inland Rail will play a key role in getting our economy back on track because it means more people in jobs and it means more productivity for so many industries and local businesses,” he said.
“On the Parkes to Narromine section, 1,800 jobs were supported and more than $109 million was spent with 99 local businesses – we’re looking forward to seeing Northern New South Wales enjoy similar benefits soon with construction on this section starting later this year.”
Federal member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said that the experience of the recently completed first stage, from Parkes to Narromine, would indicate how the next sections would play out.
“The first recently completed section – Parkes to Narromine – provided a significant boost to businesses across a range of industries, including concrete supply, transportation, fencing, earthmoving, accommodation, hospitality and security in what has been a difficult time for many rural businesses with drought, fires and now COVID-19,” he said.
“Northern NSW has a proud history of agricultural excellence – the long term benefits of this transformational project will better connect our region to east coast ports and create new supply chains to better move the produce and products we are famous for.”
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann highlighted that Inland Rail is one of the nationally significant infrastructure projects that hopes to restart the economy after COVID-19.
“Inland Rail will support more than 5,000 jobs in New South Wales during construction and as each section is completed, more fast and reliable rail services will become available to industry and regional producers across Australia,” Minister Cormann said.
“Large scale infrastructure projects are a key driver of growth – driving investment, boosting economic development, creating many news jobs and opportunities for local businesses.”