Mark Campbell

New CEO announced for ARTC

Mark Campbell is the new CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

Campbell will take over from John Fullerton after his appointment was confirmed by the board of the ARTC.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack welcomed Campbell to the top of the national rail track manager.

“We look forward to working closely with Campbell and continuing a strong professional relationship with the ARTC board and management as we deliver the 1,700-kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail and improve and maintain some 8,500 kilometres of rail,” said McCormack.

Campbell will oversee some of the many projects that Fullerton led, including the Inland Rail project which began during Fullerton’s time as CEO, as well as improvements to Australia’s national freight network. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann thanked Fullerton for his time at the head of ARTC.

“During Fullerton’s tenure, the ARTC made significant improvements to the efficiency and competitiveness of Australia’s interstate rail network.

“The ARTC also commenced delivery of Inland Rail under Fullerton’s leadership. Inland Rail will be the spine of Australia’s freight network, supporting 16,000 jobs during construction and providing a $16 billion boost to our national economy over the long term.”

Warren Truss, ARTC chairman, welcomed Campbell to the organisation and acknowledged the work done by Fullerton.

“We look forward to Campbell leading ARTC into an exciting future for Australia’s rail sector, which is set to play an increased role in the freight and transport industry over the next decade to help drive national productivity and the economic growth of the nation.

“On behalf of the ARTC Board, I would like to pay tribute to Fullerton for his outstanding career in the rail industry, which has spanned more than 40 years, including the past nine as head of ARTC. Unyielding in his efforts to promote the value of rail and transport supply chains to the national economy, Fullerton’s knowledge and guidance will be greatly missed, but we wish him every happiness in the future.”

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie welcomed Campbell’s appointment and thanked Fullerton for his work in the rail industry.

“Under his leadership, the ARTC has been reinvigorated through a wide-reaching transformation program that has seen the company become more competitive, customer-focused and results-oriented.”

Fullerton has put in place an organisation with the capacity to construct and maintain billions of dollars’ worth of rail infrastructure, and led change within ARTC itself, resulting in major advances in the company’s safety performance, customer focus, and asset improvement.”

Kirk Coningham, CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) highlighted the significant steps forward taken during Fullerton’s time as CEO.

“The decision of the Federal Government to fund the construction of Inland Rail in 2017 was a watershed moment, following many years of advocacy by our organisation and the leading transport and logistics companies we represent.

The success of the industry-led Inland Rail Conference first staged by ALC and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) in Parkes in 2018 and then in Toowoomba last year was greatly enhanced by ARTC’s active support, and in particular by Fullerton’s commitment to ensuring regional communities share in the economic benefits of this once-in-a-generation freight infrastructure project.”

Campbell was most recently the CEO and managing director of Holcim Australia and New Zealand, which supplies aggregates, concrete, and concrete products in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to Holcim, Campbell worked in other construction materials and quarrying companies in Australia, Malaysia, and the UK and has a background in civil engineering.

“Campbell’s extensive prior experience in the construction and infrastructure sectors means he is well-placed to continue driving the improvements to rail infrastructure and safety which are at the heart of all ARTC’s activities,” said Coningham.

“ALC looks forward to working closely with Mr Campbell and the entire ARTC team when he takes up his new position.”

Port Botany freight network upgrades added to IA Priority List

Infrastructure Australia will add the Port Botany Rail Line Duplication and Cabramatta Passing Loop project to the body’s Infrastructure Priority List.

The recognition signals the project as a significant one for not just the rail freight network, but wider, national supply chains. Chief Executive of Infrastructure Romilly Madew highlighted how the project is critical.

“Port Botany handles 99 per cent of NSW’s container demand, making it a critical international gateway for Australia and a backbone asset for economic product within Sydney and New South Wales,” she said.

“With demand only increasing, it is vital that Port Botany maintains throughput capacity to meet container growth over the long term.”

The dual projects provide for an increase in the capacity of rail to deliver containers to Port Botany. The project involves duplicating 2.9km of the line and constructing a passing loop at Cabramatta on the Southern Sydney Freight Line.

Moving more containers by rail will also benefit surrounding suburbs and road networks, said Madew.

“Currently more than 80 per cent of containers to and from Port Botany are transported by road.

“This worsens congestion on the Sydney road network, particularly in and around the already constrained Port Botany precinct, which includes Sydney Airport and the M5 Motorway.”

The project would further improve supply chains by increasing capacity on the Southern Sydney Freight Line and the Port Botany rail line, which are forecast to exceed capacity by 2023 and 2026, respectively.

A number of intermodal terminals are also planned for the Sydney basin, including at St Marys and a future site near Western Sydney Airport, and demand for greater rail capacity is also being generated by the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal and the Enfield Intermodal Terminal.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack welcomed Infrastructure Australia’s determination on the $400 million project.

“It’s great to see job-creating infrastructure and freight initiatives such as these recognised as priority projects by Infrastructure Australia, particularly at a time when getting goods to consumers is so essential.”

An upgrade of the existing line to Port Botany was also recently completed.

John Fullerton, CEO of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), which is overseeing the project, highlighted that efficient supply chains are more important than ever.

“We have all seen how critical our transport and freight sector is during the current COVID-19 crisis.

“These two projects are essential to helping Sydney, and New South Wales, in meeting its future freight demands. Containers are expected to grow from 2.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to 8.4m TEUs by 2045. Rail can and needs to carry more of the freight task, not only through Port Botany – but across the country.”

CEO of NSW Ports, Marika Calfas, said that work should begin as soon as possible on the duplication and passing loop.

“Having been under development for many years, this project is ‘shovel ready’ and should be progressed as a priority to deliver long term port supply chain productivity benefits and provide needed economic stimulus for NSW.”

Calfas highlighted that Port Botany is hoping to significantly increase the number of containers moved by rail.

“Port Botany is the only container port in Australia with on-dock rail at all three of its container terminals and, together with the stevedores, we are making significant investments to increase port-side rail capacity to meet this goal. The first stage of investment of $190 million commenced in 2019 and will be complete by 2023.  This will double existing rail capacity at Port Botany.”

CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Kirk Coningham, said that the organisation is ready to progress the project.

“ALC hopes governments will now work with industry to expedite the delivery of this priority project, to strengthen the efficiency of our supply chains and help provide economic stimulus in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In January this year, ARTC announced that it had shortlisted three contractors for the Botany Rail Duplication project, and that John Holland has been shortlisted for the Cabramatta Loop project.

Further consultation on the Inland Rail flood modelling design

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on the proposed flood modelling and structural design of the Inland Rail construction.

A panel of experts is being called on by the federal and Queensland governments to provide public consultation on the draft Terms of Reference for the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) freight rail line that will cross the Condamine floodplain in Queensland.

Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said the Independent Panel of Experts will include hydrologists and engineer experts.

The independent expert panel chosen to review ARTC’s flood modelling and design will include experts with international experience and will operate at arm’s length from ARTC.

McCormack said the public consultation will reaffirm Inland Rail’s commitment to an engineering solution.

“We understand the legitimate concerns landholders have about constructing infrastructure where our farmers and communities have experienced floods – which is why the Independent Panel of Experts is important to provide public safety assurance for Inland Rail,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

McCormack said extensive work has already been undertaken by the ARTC and by Australian experts to develop and test flood modelling that will guide the structural design of Inland Rail as it crosses flood prone areas.

Mathias Cormann, Finance Minister, said the government was committed to working with affected communities and experts.

“This expert panel will provide reassurance around Inland Rail’s hydrology and engineering solutions, ensuring that Queenslanders can benefit from 7,200 jobs and from a boost of more than $7 billion which Inland Rail will deliver to the Queensland economy,” he said.

Mark Bailey, Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads said the Condamine floodplain is a complex and dynamic part of Queensland.

“The engineering solution for Inland Rail to cross the Condamine must address this, taking into account local hydraulic and hydrology patterns and local knowledge,” he said.

“The expert panel will review ARTC’s flood modelling and proposed designs against the best practice in a floodplain environment and provide advice to the Commonwealth, the State and the ARTC.”

The draft Terms of Reference is available via email for stakeholders.

Federal government assessing projects for infrastructure spending

The federal government is currently assessing infrastructure projects to see what initiatives will receive funding.

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack said in a webinar with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia that the government was looking to the infrastructure sector to kick-start the Australian economy.

“The federal government has recently called on our states and territories and the 537 local governments to ask them what infrastructure can be brought forward. We are now assessing that infrastructure with responses received from three-quarters of the local councils.”

McCormack also highlighted that already funded projects would continue.

“Designing and constructing infrastructure is vital to Australia’s immediate and long-term future and we are committed to ensuring our record $100 billion pipeline stays on track during this time.”

As construction was deemed an essential activity, most projects around Australia have continued despite coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. With some restrictions now being lifted, further spending in infrastructure will be part of the government’s response, as Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge.

“We have been working closely with industry since the outbreak of this pandemic to ensure a considered and responsible national response, whilst ensuring the health and safety of employees and the broader community.

“We want this crucial job sector to be maintained and remain as strong as ever so we are in a much better position to come out of COVID-19 and get our economy back on track.”

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia CEO Adrian Dwyer said that further investment would enable the sector to continue to support the wider economy.

“By maintaining a focus on the pipeline of existing projects and supporting the acceleration of new investments, the Federal Government has been able to keep the wheels on the construction sector,” he said.

“It’s not just about the 1.3 million people employed in the sector, it’s the flow-on effect to their families and the broader economy which makes it so important that we maintain a strong and viable sector through the COVID-19 crisis and out the other side.”

Inland rail continues major construction with added safety measures

Inland Rail’s construction is continuing along with other major construction projects, with the safe delivery of freight and transport infrastructure a high priority.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has implemented additional public health and safety measures on national rail infrastructure projects during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said he has the confidence that all necessary precautions are being taken to protect workers and the communities in which they operate.

“Now more than ever, we need these essential construction services and the economic stimulus to continue, not just to keep people in work, but to ensure we’re in the best place possible to build momentum when we see through this global health crisis,” he said.

“Additional measures put in place by the ARTC and its contractors to protect the health and safety of workers and the local community mean we can continue to deliver projects, such as the transformational Inland Rail.”

McCormack said everyone relies on the freight network to deliver the essential supplies such as food, medicine, and medical equipment, which are critical now more than ever.

“I thank the freight and construction workers who are essential to maintaining our supply chains and laying the ground work for Australia’s freight future,” he said.

More than 1,700 people have worked on Inland Rail since construction began, including 667 locals on the Parkes to Narromine project.

McCormack said the economic injection from this project has been immense with $89 million spent with local businesses and 97 local businesses engaged as suppliers.

More than 165,000 tonnes of ballast has been laid and one million tonnes of earthworks completed since the first sod was turned in Parkes in December 2018.

A total 70km of the 103-kilometre Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail is now complete, with final ancillary work under way.

Mathias Cormann, finance minister, said Inland Rail will deliver a $16 billion boost to gross domestic product during construction and the first 50 years of operation.

“Inland Rail will support 5,000 jobs in New South Wales and we are already seeing the benefits of this in Parkes and the surrounding region, with a boost to employment and supplier contracts flowing from construction,” he said.

Cormann said the government is committed to Inland Rail to build Australia’s freight capability and meet increasing demands.

“We are very happy that this vital work can continue safely,” he said.

“It is important that we progress these long-term infrastructure projects to create jobs for Australians, sustain economic activity and to support the recovery on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Summer events show need for resilience focus

Kirk Coningham, CEO of the Australian Logistics Council, outlines how the effects of this summer will continue to be felt in the freight rail sector.

It is reasonable to say that many Australians have experienced a challenging beginning to 2020, and the flow-on effects are likely to affect our industry in a variety of ways over the months ahead.

The bushfires that burned through vast swathes of the continent had a devastating impact on families, local communities, and businesses. The immediate scale of the tragedy is recorded in lives and homes lost and understandably, that is where the initial focus of recovery efforts has been.

Yet in some respects, that is only the beginning of the story. With the fires now extinguished and the immediate physical threat having passed, it is becoming apparent that recovery efforts – and the cost of those efforts – will be significant.

These costs will include significant repairs that will have to be undertaken to repair damaged transport infrastructure.

Throughout the early weeks of this year, ALC has been participating in regular industry discussions convened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, which are focused on providing industry advice and assistance to the federal government in shaping its recovery response to the fire crisis.

What was already a difficult beginning to 2020 is now being further compounded by the challenges associated with the coronavirus.

As in the case of the fires, the initial focus is on protecting lives through containment and quarantine efforts. Yet, as with the fires, once the immediate threat is contained, there will be significant economic effects to consider.

Australia’s freight rail sector plays a crucial role in getting imported freight
to customers, as well as transporting Australian products to the point of export. The disruptive effects of an episode like the coronavirus have obvious flow-on effects across the whole supply chain – and these will need to be managed effectively and responsibly.

Over recent weeks, experts have warned that the ongoing restrictions on the movement of goods and people in China – our largest trading partner – are likely to adversely impact Australia’s agricultural exports. The effects are also being felt in other export sectors, including minerals and resources.

On the other side of the coin, restrictions on the departure of vessels from China means those importing goods to Australia – and road transport businesses which supply them – are also likely to feel a slowdown.

Improving the resilience of Australia’s supply chains to withstand the effects of natural disasters and international events was clearly identified in the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy released last year.

It was a theme echoed in the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List released by Infrastructure Australia in February. The updated list placed a renewed emphasis on enhancing the capacity of national infrastructure to cope with disruptive events – whether they be as a result of natural disasters or through other unexpected events such, as global epidemics or terrorism.

The early part of 2020 was a powerful demonstration of why our governments must join with industry in acting more urgently to address that challenge.

Labor pushes for high speed rail investment

High speed rail could once again be on the table, with federal Labor transport spokeswoman Catherine King describing the project’s potential as an “economic game changer” for Australia after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In comments reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, King said that building a high-speed rail network along the eastern seaboard would be able to cut travel times.

“High-speed rail has the potential to revolutionise interstate travel, allowing travel between capital cities in as little as three hours,” King told the Herald.

With regional areas also reeling from the impact of the bushfires earlier in 2020 and late 2019, King noted that the project has the potential to inject economic activity into regional economies, as Inland Rail is currently doing.

“If the government is interested in creating jobs and boosting regional economies, it should seriously consider investing in high-speed rail now,” said King.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, told the Herald that the government was not looking into high speed rail at this time.

“While I have long been an advocate for high-speed rail in Australia, given the significant costs outlined in the reports conducted between 2010 and 2013, my focus is currently on delivering the inland rail and faster rail proposals which the federal government has committed to,” said McCormack.

In 2019, Labor took to the election a $1 billion promise to set aside land for an East Coast high speed rail corridor.

Between 2010 and 2013 the Australian government looked into the possibility of a 1,748km route from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. With a speed of 350km/hr this would make the travel times between Sydney and Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane below three hours, the threshold for passengers to swap from air to train travel according to the Australasian Railway Association.

The route alignment mapped out in 2013 also included regional stops such as in Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga, Shepparton, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, and Grafton. The cost of linking Sydney and Melbourne with high speed rail would be roughly $50bn and the total cost would be $114bn in 2012 dollars, however with a positive return on investment.

Intermodal hubs and freight infrastructure among new $44m Inland Rail developments

16 local project proposals will be developed as part of the Australian Government’s $44 million Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program.

Michael McCormack, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development has announced an EY Australia-led consortium has been commissioned to further develop Inland Rail interface improvements.

“Sixteen projects were found eligible in this first round of applications, and those groups are now working with the EY-led consortium to develop pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, and strategic business cases,” he said.

McCormack said an intermodal facility at Mangalore, expanded freight infrastructure in the Riverina, and rail upgrades between Kurumbul to Thallon are projects that are being supported through the Interface Improvement Program.

“Inland Rail has always been about far more than building a rail line – it’s about investing in our national freight network, enhancing supply chains, and bringing jobs and economic opportunity to regional Australia,” McCormack said.

“Large infrastructure projects deliver great stimulus to the national economy – Inland Rail, for example, will boost GDP by $16 billion and support 16,000 jobs during construction,” he said.

Mark Coulton, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government said the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program is investigating options for regions to maximise their connections to this national freight network.

Coulton said new supply chains enabled by Inland Rail stretch well beyond the tracks connecting Melbourne and Brisbane.

“We are backing local ideas because we know that the connections to Inland Rail will be critical to create economic uplift and ongoing jobs in our regions,” he said.

Proposals received through the Expression of Interest process were assessed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and by its independent assurance and technical advisor.

Proposals will be developed through pre-feasibility or feasibility studies and strategic business cases, depending on the individual project proposal.

Eligibility to progress through to an appropriate assessment gateway for proposal development was assessed against the Interface Improvement Program principles and information requirements including supporting regional economic growth, capacity to increase Inland Rail throughput and supporting National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.

Mathias Cormann, Finance Minister, said Inland Rail would change the way freight is moved around Australia, offering a fast and efficient alternative to complement long-haul road transport along Australia’s east coast.

“Now more than ever, our investment in Inland Rail is vital to build resilience in the national freight network that provides an essential service to Australians – delivering the inputs needed to drive small business and fuel our national economy,” he said.

“Our commitment through the Interface Improvement Program will further enhance community and industry connectivity to Inland Rail, and ensure our producers and manufacturers remain competitive.”

McCormack said the complementary businesses, manufacturers, and logistics hubs that establish along this freight rail line will provide sustained employment for people in regional Australia and boost gross regional product by up to $13.3bn over the long term.

The 1,700-kilometre Inland Rail line will connect Melbourne, Brisbane and regional areas through fast and reliable freight rail and will create around 16,000 jobs during the construction phase, while supporting approximately 700 jobs once it is operational.

Inland Rail to boost regional Australia by $13.3b

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.

Additional $44m investment to fast track Lockyer Valley Inland Rail

The Australian federal government has invested an extra $44 million to the Inland Rail II Program (II Program) to fast track improvements.

The Lockyer Valley Inland Rail connection is one of four projects selected to be fast tracked part of the II Program.

The additional investment will assess the costs and benefits of various additional connections to the national freight rail network.

This will include investigating ways to build industry and supply chain resilience and improve market access for farmers and manufacturers through enhanced connection to Inland Rail.

Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development said the impacts of fire and drought in the Lockyer region mandated an investigation of possible expansion of the network

“Farmers and producers need to know they have access to a reliable, interconnected, national freight network that will deliver their produce to markets when and where it is needed.

McCormack said the Lockyer Valley, located between Ipswich and Toowoomba in South East Queensland, is traditionally one of Australia’s strongest horticulture producing regions and under the II Program, strategic business cases will identify opportunities to support more productive rail-based supply chains at regional centres and help build capacity on key country rail lines.

Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance said he is very happy the Lockyer Valley component under the Infrastructure Investment Program would be fast tracked.

“Better freight connectivity and efficiency helps drive stronger economic growth and will maximise the returns for our national productivity which we know Inland Rail will deliver,” Cormann said.

“Transport costs are a significant overhead for Australian businesses which inevitably are then passed on to consumers. By maximising the community and business connections to Inland Rail, our investments to improve the interface with existing infrastructure ensures more people can enjoy high quality competitively priced and locally grown produce.”

Mark Coulton, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communities and Local Government said enhancing supply chain efficiencies means more money stays in the pockets of local producers, building more resilient communities and industries. 

“Inland Rail provides the opportunities for cost savings, with the fast and reliable freight transport option placing our products on supermarket shelves across Australia and beyond our shores,” Coulton said.