Call for local ideas to maximise Inland Rail connectivity

The second round of Expression of Interest for the $44 million Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program has opened.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack called on farmers, local and state governments, industry and community to put forward project ideas to better connect to Inland Rail and maximise the benefits of fast, efficient and cost-competitive freight rail.

“Inland Rail is a game-changer for regional Australia – it will fundamentally change the way freight moves around our nation at the same time as generating more than 16,000 jobs across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland,” Mr McCormack said.

“At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is taking such a toll on our economy, Inland Rail is poised to boost regional economies now and into the future.

“This Program is about exploring ideas and options to get the most out of Inland Rail for communities along the alignment. It takes project ideas from local innovators and matches them with specialist business advisors, helping them meet industry requirements to bring projects one step closer to attracting funding – turning ideas into bricks and mortar infrastructure.

“The second round of EOI is another chance to bring local knowledge and expertise to the table to support more efficient supply chains, improve connectivity to country rail lines and ensure opportunities from Inland Rail are realised for towns and communities around the nation.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Interface Improvement Program would improve connectivity to Inland Rail, allowing for more efficient supply chain movements.

“Connectivity is key to future proofing the Inland Rail – improved connectivity will maximise the return Inland Rail delivers to national productivity.

“Through the Interface Improvement Program we are taking important steps to invest in the broader national freight network and in doing so, increase the market opportunities for Australian manufacturers, producers and growers,” Minister Cormann said.

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton said that project proposals put forward in the first round of the Program have made significant progress through the assessment process.

“From an intermodal facility at Mangalore, expanded freight infrastructure in the Riverina, road upgrades for a rail spur in Croppa Creek to rail upgrades between Kurumbul to Thallon – the projects that are moving forward under the Program can make a real difference to local communities,” Minister Coulton said.

“With the second round of EOI now open, we could see even more innovative ideas that will change the game for regional businesses and supply chain operators who are persevering through the compounded economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 bushfires – providing a way for the Government to help people plan for the future.

“With the commitment of industry, community and governments, we will see the return of rail to our regions, along with the opportunities and benefits it brings for our producers and manufacturers.”

By providing business case support, the Program helps local organisations, governments and communities make a case for further investment. Participation in the Program does not guarantee projects will receive future funding.

The Interface Improvement Program does not provide or guarantee funding for projects.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit their project proposals to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications by 18 September 2020.

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