Construction on the Inland Rail project has officially begun, kick starting the creation of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack turned the first sod today at Parkes in Central-West New South Wales.
Parkes is the site of one of 13 individual sections of the 1,700kilometre rail line between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Once fully constructed, Inland Rail will enable faster, bigger, double-stacked trains to move more produce into domestic and international markets, at a lower freight cost.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the 1,700km ‘corridor of commerce’ will open up inland regional communities to investment and export opportunities presented by Free Trade Agreements successfully negotiated by the Liberal and Nationals Government.
“Inland Rail will connect rural and regional Australia to millions of customers at home and overseas through key domestic and rapidly expanding international markets,” the Prime Minister said.
“It will also drive significant investment in the communities themselves through the creation of around 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, and a $16billion contribution to the national economy.
“Our $9.3billion investment in Inland Rail is a key part of our record $75billion infrastructure plan which is supporting better freight transport to deliver economic and community gains across the nation.
“Inland Rail is another example of a project which had been discussed for decades until the Liberal and Nationals Government got on with the job of delivering it.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that Inland Rail will deliver freight to market at reduced costs, putting more money in farmers’ pockets.
“Inland Rail is game-changing infrastructure,” Mr McCormack said.
“It will deliver jobs, not just during the construction phase, but permanent jobs through increased freight.
“Farmers will be able to move food and fibre between Melbourne and Brisbane, in larger volumes and more cost-efficiently.
“This is truly a once-in-a-generation project and I’m proud to be part of this historic event, marking the formal start of construction.”
Minister for Finance and the Public Service Mathias Cormann said the Liberal and Nationals Government’s investment in Inland Rail will help to drive long-term economic benefits.
“For every dollar that we are investing in Inland Rail it will return $2.62 to the national economy,” Mr Cormann said.
“Construction will enable industry and businesses to invest back into their local communities, injecting critical funds back into regional economies.”
The construction contract for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail is worth more than $300million and so far more than 14,000 tonnes of steel has been delivered to the site.
There are currently 187 live contracts for materials, goods and services worth $637million associated with Inland Rail, including the manufacturing of 200,000 concrete sleepers.
The first double-stacked freight train is expected to run between Melbourne and Brisbane in the mid-2020s.