The most significant freight infrastructure project in the nation’s history has taken a major step forward with the Australian and Queensland Governments signing a ground-breaking Bilateral Agreement to deliver Inland Rail.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Bilateral Agreement would ensure Queensland’s future growth is supported by a robust freight rail network capable of servicing the long-term liveability and productivity of Queensland’s regions, towns and cities.
“The Bilateral Agreement signed today is backed by the Federal Government’s $9.3 billion commitment to deliver Inland Rail and is part of the broader $25 billion commitment we’ve made to road and rail projects across Queensland since coming to Government in 2013,” Mr McCormack said.
“Our government values the significance of this nation-building project for regional communities. More than 7,000 jobs and a $7 billion boost to Queensland’s economy will make a real difference to the people who live and work in this state.
“We are transforming the way freight is moved in Australia. For every dollar we are investing in Inland Rail, $2.62 will be returned to the national economy.
“Modelling by the CSIRO shows an average saving of $76 per tonne for horticulture and post-processed food when shifted onto the double-stacked trains. The data is clear – Inland Rail is a game-changer for regional Australia.
“We’re already seeing the benefits in New South Wales with the section of track between Parkes and Narromine underway.
“For this 100 kilometre section, more than $46 million in contracts have been committed to 84 local businesses with 1,000 people having worked on the project – 400 of those are locals.
“Good paying jobs means more money flowing through small businesses in a particularly difficult time of drought and I look forward to this being replicated in Queensland.”
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the signing of this Bilateral Agreement was a crucial step towards delivering a more efficient freight network for the future, underpinning our national economic growth and international competitiveness.
“Long-haul rail is cheaper, safer and more reliable than moving freight by road over those distances. That is why the Australian Government has committed up to $9.3 billion to complete the national rail network through Inland Rail,” Minister Cormann said.
“The shift from road to rail is crucial to ensuring our freight network meets the needs of our growing population.
“It is great to have the Queensland Government on board now supporting our Inland Rail project. This project will improve the national freight rail network by connecting communities, creating jobs, reducing supply chain costs and making Australian business more competitive.”
Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said that the agreement reached with the Australian Government cements protections for Queenslanders and would see close to $2 billion in joint-funding fast-tracked for road and rail projects across the state.
“The delivery of Inland Rail in Queensland is a huge win for the state, providing jobs and opportunities to communities,” Mr Bailey said.
“This deal will see us work with the Federal Government on business cases for passenger rail services from Salisbury to Beaudesert, Brisbane to Toowoomba and a dedicated rail freight line to the Port of Brisbane.
“This includes better understanding the expected freight demand on the line into the future and identifying opportunities for intermodal terminals at Ebenezer and Bromelton to assist in managing the freight task.
“The projects will support the Trade and Enterprise Spine initiative identified under the South East Queensland City Deal Statement of intent.
“All parties have also agreed to establish an international panel to advise on the modelling of potential flood impacts and continuing community consultation along the project’s chosen route through Queensland.
“In addition to the expert hydrologists already engaged by the Australian Rail Track Corporation, an expert panel of international specialists will be established to advise on best practice flood structural integrity and report back to the Queensland and Australian Governments.
“Queenslanders can have confidence that a comprehensive and detailed approvals process for the project is being undertaken that includes rigorous environmental, planning and statutory approvals.”