Growth Areas

Moving Ahead With Inland Rail

Moving Ahead With Inland Rail

The Inland Rail is one of the largest infrastructure programs ever undertaken in Australia. The 1700km rail line is an enourmous feat of engineering spanning three states and can be rightly hailed as a megaproject due to its size, scale and ambition.

To underpin the scope of the project, a study by EY Australia shows the possibilites for investment along the rail line can generate billions in added value for communities over the first 50 years of operation. Exoanded logistics and cotton handling, food processing and more regional airport capacity are some of the opporunities being explored for investment between Brisbane and the New South Wales border over the first 10, 30 and 50 years of Inland Rail’s operation.

Talked About Since Federation

The project has been talked about in Australia since Federation, but the complexities and challenges of building through the Great Dividing Range in Queensland, plotting a route, the resumption of properties and finding the capital to build it has always been a step too far in the past. That is until now.

The concept of Inland Rail was that it would upgrade the nation’s rail infrastructure to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task over the next 50 years, however, five years into the process the onset of a world-wide pandemic has elevated the Inland Rail concept to a new level.

Once in a Generation Opportunity

The Inland Rail has become a way for the nation to help build its way out of recession, while also attracting new businesses to regional Australia in a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the creation of thousands of extra jobs and billions in additional economic activity in the regions through major emhancements to the planning, design and delivery of the project.

The first section of the Inland Rail to be built from Parkes to Narromine saw $109million injected into the local economy with more than 760 locals working on the project and it changed the whole dynamic of the town of Parkes.

The second section between Narrabri and North Star has kicked off and there are people in hi-viz in the local coffee shops in Moree and Narrabri and a sense of excitment across all three levels of government on what this is going to mean to this highly productive farming area.

(Edited by This Regional Life. This article first appeared in the IAQ IQ Quarterly Magazine Q1 2021)