Freight Rail, Major Projects & Infrastructure

Inland Rail set to transform the movement of goods, conference hears

The 2021 Inland Rail Conference has highlighted the likely benefits of the project.

MOVING freight from Melbourne to Brisbane in just one day could transform the way goods are transported in Australia, the 2021 Inland Rail Conference heard.

Held in Albury, the conference was organised by the Australian Logistics Council and the Australasian Railways Association, with deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack conducting the official opening.

Delegates heard the project could transform the ratio of rail freight in this country from 30% movement to 62% by 2050.

The construction phase of the project is also reported to have has delivered local benefits by way of employment, with 1862 people (including 302 indigenous Australians) getting jobs during the development of the Parkes to Narromine segment of the line.

Furthermore, Australian industry gained advantages through the use of concrete sleepers sourced from Mittagong, rail clips from Blacktown and steel rail from Whyalla.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation was reported to be working with communities to engage them in the development of the project in areas of Australia where Inland Rail is to be constructed. The next phase of the project has begun from Narrabri to North Star.

The conference was told the development of the Parkes hub was particularly important as its position at the juncture of Inland Rail and the East-West rail line would permit the cost effective movement of goods to all States of mainland Australia.

However, industry and government needs to work together so that both consumer choice of transport mode for freight and investments in road and rail networks can be optimised.

Attendees urged the NSW Government to take urgent action to deliver its rail productivity strategy so that its missed target of rail having a 28% share of freight movement in 2021 is realised.

ALC CEO Kirk Coningham said the Queensland government needed to advance the next stage of analysis for a link to the Port of Brisbane to confirm the preferred alignment and begin the planning and approval process.

“This needs to include all necessary corridor and land acquisitions,” Coningham said.

“The outcome needs to be a dedicated freight corridor not mixing with passenger freight,” he said.

“A dedicated freight rail corridor linking terminal and container linking terminals and container ports exists in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.”

Kirk Coningham. Photo: Rail Gallery / ALC

Coningham also said the the approval pathways for the development of the Kagaru to Acacia Ridge link should be prioritised, as should any work being performed to facilitate the movement of freight by rail from the Port of Brisbane.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie said the conference highlighted the significant benefits of rail freight.

“This is not just a nation building project, but a community shaping one too,” she said.

“We must make the most of it to maximise the jobs, opportunity and wider community benefits that will flow from Inland Rail.

“Mode shift to Inland Rail will help drive lower emissions, improve safety outcomes and ease congestion across the freight network.

“It is essential that policy settings support greater use of rail freight to leverage the capacity and efficiency Inland Rail will provide as the industry meets the needs our growing national freight task.”

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