Feasibility design contracts have been awarded for the four sections of Inland Rail between Brisbane and Toowoomba.
Three of the contracts, covering the three sections of Inland Rail between Gowrie and Kagaru, have been awarded to the Future Freight Joint Venture, which is between Aecom and Aurecon. They are worth a combined $28 million.
The fourth contract, for the section of Inland Rail from Kagaru to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton, has been awarded to Hatch. It is worth around $3.5 million.
ARTC’s director of Inland Rail delivery Simon Thomas said the information gathered through the feasibility design studies would complement extensive community engagement being conducted by the ARTC itself.
“It’s a 360 approach,” Thomas said. “The engineering, environmental studies and community feedback inform each other so that we can build the best possible rail line.”
Describing the design process through Queensland as “lengthy,” Thomas said the new contracts would allow the ARTC team to progress with “an important piece of the puzzle”.
“This will help us understand more about the local geography, hydrology, flora and fauna, as well as air quality, noise and social factors, laying the groundwork for more detailed design work.”
The three sections covered by the Aecom/Aurecon contract will eventually be delivered via a Public Private Partnership.
“This is the most technically complex section of Inland Rail requiring major tunnelling through the Toowoomba ranges,” Thomas said.
“Developing the PPP is one of the ARTC’s major areas of focus and we are currently recruiting for a director to lead this work.”
Transport and infrastructure minister Barnaby Joyce said Inland Rail would be a catalyst for significant development throughout regional Australia.
“This project is a game-changer for our regions, creating thousands of jobs nationwide, and returning $16 billion to the national economy during the delivery phase and the first 50 years of operation,” Joyce said.
“More importantly, Inland Rail will draw investment into communities along its corridor, as we gear up for construction work to start on sections in New South Wales as early as May.”
Finance minister Mathias Cormann said the feasibility designs would help respond to a large amount of community interest in Inland Rail.
“As these feasibility designs progress, more detail will become available, including what engineering solutions could be used, building on preliminary investigations and community engagement already carried out by the ARTC,” Cormann said.