McConnell Dowell is playing a crucial part in the building of parts of the Inland Rail project.
Projects today transcend far beyond their physical form in the valuable infrastructure they leave behind. Inland Rail’s Beveridge to Albury Tranche 1 is a shining example of how a legacy of a rail project can have benefits well beyond the tracks for the local businesses and the broader community.
McConnell Dowell was engaged by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) in October 2022 to undertake construction for the Beveridge to Albury Tranche 1 Inland Rail project in regional Victoria.
The task requires a variety of civil, structural and rail works focusing on ensuring that the required clearance for double-stacked freight trains on the existing North East rail line is achieved. Inland Rail will improve the market connections for regional Australia and provide faster and more reliable movement of freight.
Works are now well underway at numerous enhancement sites with the construction of a new road bridge in Glenrowan, track lowering under the Murray Valley Highway at Barnawartha North and the modification of Wangaratta Station precinct. Works will also soon begin to replace the existing Seymour-Avenel Road bridge and Green Street Road bridge in Wangaratta.
McConnell Dowell has successfully engaged with more than 130 local businesses since last October to work on the project, ranging from large-scale earthworks to office supplies and accommodation.
Working with local businesses means more local employment opportunities, with 90 pr sent of the workforce living within the local Victorian regions.
As an example, a business run by Josh Trimble at the small High Country town of Myrrhee has been engaged by McConnell Dowell since November 2022 across each of the active Inland Rail sites.
This has enabled him to offer his four young apprentices a rare opportunity to work on a large-scale construction project right on their doorstep.
“It is exciting to be part of a tier one construction project in North East Victoria. These opportunities don’t happen very often, and it provides the team with great exposure and learning experiences,” Trimble said.
HC Civil, another Victorian High Country-based business, is also reaping the benefits. Managing director Brenton Simpson said having a large infrastructure project within an hour of where he lived was a massive opportunity for it to invest in local people and in their business.
“We have 10 employees, machines and earthmoving equipment employed on the Inland Rail sites at Glenrowan, Barnawartha North and Wangaratta,” he said.
“This rail project has given us the opportunity to invest in our business, invest in people, invest in gear, invest in training and staff.
“We would directly support eight to 10 businesses in the Wangaratta and Albury region and it’s important we continue to do so, to support local jobs in the region.”
McConnell Dowell Inland Rail project manager Tom Foley said the team had enjoyed working with and meeting the locals and seeing the passion they have for their community.
“We understand that the project is largely just a visitor to the communities we are working in and we want them to feel better off for having had us after the project is complete,” he said.
There are many advantages to utilising a local workforce.
Local suppliers have been able to bring their knowledge of the area and skills to improve the efficiency of access to services and supplies.
Established relationships with the local authorities and other businesses has proved to be invaluable and their flexible and accommodating nature helps to ensure the success of the project and critical timelines.
McConnell Dowell’s new General Manager Rail, Harriet Christopherson, said providing a better life was the cornerstone of McConnell Dowell’s approach and is the broader philosophy that it tried to bring into all its projects.
“Inland Rail is a fantastic example of how a rail project can bring legacy to the people who live in the project’s local communities,” she said.
“Of course, as engineers we are super excited about the engineering and the clever things that sit behind what we bring to a project, but the real pride comes from the difference we can make and the broader benefits of a project like this to the supply chain and local economy.
“Benefits like employment, skills development, traineeships, growth for local businesses and working relationships you form that can carry on into the future. We are providing opportunities for people and businesses to upskill and grow and realise long lasting benefits having worked with us on this project.
“These benefits can change lives and boost local regional communities.
“I think this is really the broader appeal of our sector and is a fantastic opportunity for us to rebrand our industry to attract a new and more diverse workforce.
“We must be better at connecting people to how our projects bring benefits that transcends the built form. That is what will attract new people to our sector and provide the rewarding future careers we all know that exist in rail.”
For more information on McConnell Dowell Rail please visit: www.mcconnelldowell.com/specialist-capabilities/rail
Or catch up with the McConnell Dowell team at stand 530 at AusRAIL PLUS, which runs from November 13-17.