Regional communities across Australia are set to benefit from $13.3 billion in gross regional product due to the Inland Rail project.
According to an eight month study by EY, Inland Rail can add up to $13 billion in today’s terms to the value of goods and services produced over its first 50 years of operation.
The report was undertaken throughout 2019 and released by the Deputy Prime Minister in March 2020. The report builds on the projected 16,000 jobs and $16 billion boost to the national economy outlined in the 2015 Inland Rail Business Case.
Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said Inland Rail is going to draw industry to regional Australia where the enhanced freight rail network will connect companies and consumers both domestically and internationally
“What the EY report is assessing is the additional benefit to communities from the opportunities that arise for local businesses and people from the completion of Inland Rail,” he said.
“For example, it might be a cereal manufacturer whose freight costs drop by 30 per cent allowing the employment of additional staff, or it might be the expansion of regional processing that takes advantage of Inland Rail’s lower cost and greater capacity and connectivity.”
EY looked at case studies, international examples, and local knowledge to determine the potential for investment, employment and growth along, and beyond, the alignment.
“The benefits of this project are going to be felt across generations. Right now, young people from regional areas are directly benefiting from working on Inland Rail’s construction including the 656 locals who have worked on the project in the Parkes region and the more than $75 million spent with local businesses,” he said.
“Inland Rail gives these communities new ways to grow and rebuild with better connections to interstate and international markets, new jobs and a stronger case for attracting public and private investment,” he said.
Mathias Cormann, Finance Minister said the first wave of developments are taking shape.
“We are very confident that many other regional towns in and around the Inland Rail corridor will secure further significant investment, development and job creation opportunities for their towns on the back of this exciting project,” Cormann said.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication said in a statement that this work was tested with industry, governments, and communities with the study team heading to Narrabri, Toowoomba, Wagga Wagga, and Wodonga to get people’s views.
That input shaped the forecasting and tested the study’s early findings.
“We thank the communities, industry groups and local government who helped shape this work with local data and evidence,” the department stated.
The report followed another week of speculation on the impact of flooding on the regional rail link’s route via the Condamine floodplain. Shadow Member for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development Catherine King said that the government needs to consider hydrological modelling commissioned by farmers close to the alignment.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) released a statement standing by its own modelling, which it said showed that the selected route is the right one.
“The science tells us there is no premise to change the route based on flood modelling and the economics tells us that this route was the most viable, cost effective option,” said ARTC Inland Rail chief executive Richard Wankmuller.
Local concerns have been incorporated into the design of the route, said Wankmuller.
“It’s important governments and the community have confidence in the engineering and science that allows countries like Australia to deliver world-class infrastructure.”
As part of the deal signed between the federal and Queensland governments which gave the Border to Gowrie section the go-ahead, an international review panel will review the floodplain modelling.