Thursday 20th Feb, 2020

Inland Rail North-West Connection complete

Photo: Inland Rail

Completion of the first Inland Rail project has given operators renewed confidence to invest along the route, Freight on Rail Group of Australia chair and Pacific National CEO Dean Dalla Valle has said.

The North-West Connection, a newly-completed 5.3-kilometre section of track to join the existing Broken Hill Line to rail track south of Henry Parkes Way, will eventually form the junction between Australia’s east-west railway and Inland Rail.

Dalla Valle congratulated deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals Michael McCormack on the project milestone.

“MicMac has rapidly built up a head of steam behind Inland Rail,” Dalla Valle said.

“He is like a moving freight train; giving companies like Pacific National and SCT Logistics confidence to invest in freight terminals at Parkes.”

SCT Logistics managing director and Freight on Rail Group member Geoff Smith said the connection between the north-south Inland Rail and the east-west Transcontinental Railway means Parkes can become the epicentre of Australia’s freight and logistics network.

“Rail freight operators can consolidate shipping containers at their terminals in the Parkes National Logistics Hub, before hauling them double-stacked across the Nullarbor to Perth or single-stacked to the ports of Botany, Brisbane or Melbourne,” he explained.

“Parkes becomes a launch pad for freight volumes to all corners of our continent.”

McCormack visited the project on August 30 with finance minister Mathias Cormann and regional services, decentralisation and local government minister Mark Coulton.

“Inland Rail is already expanding the national freight network and the opening of this section will also create a much-needed link that improves access between the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Interstate railway line,” McCormack said.

“While Inland Rail is a multi-year project, the build schedule allows for individual components to be released into the national network, providing incremental benefit as sections are completed which means regional producers will have earlier access to the national capability of Inland Rail.”

Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller said the project was representative of the project’s focus on connectivity.

“People can start to see how Inland Rail will link into other rail networks and facilitate the movement of products more efficiently and at a lower cost, which is a boon for producers, consumers, and the Australian economy,” Wankmuller said.

The ARTC, coordinating Inland Rail, says around 72 local businesses supplied the North-West Connection project, which provided around 700 people with work.

“Last month a peak daily workforce of 598 was recorded,” Wankmuller said.

“Around the Central West region, the range of businesses tapping into the flow of work from Inland Rail involve concrete supply, transportation, fencing, earthmoving, drainage, electrical works, security and geotechnical services. Accommodation providers and the hospitality industry are also reaping the benefits, as are retail outlets, with an influx of workers living and spending locally.

“This is what we can expect to be replicated along the length of Inland Rail as the different projects making up the corridor progress into construction.”

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