The Inland Rail project – connecting Melbourne to Brisbane with a high performance freight line – has moved closer with the Australian Government releasing the Delivery Plan.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss received the final report of the Inland Rail Implementation Group from chair John Anderson AO in Canberra.
The delivery plan outlines a 10-year construction timeframe to complete the 1,700km project, including some 600km of new track, and puts the cost at $10 billion. Accompanying the plan is a detailed business case, developed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
“This report and business case provides the information needed to consider how best to build the Inland Rail network to meet the freight challenge of the coming decades – expected to treble along the eastern seaboard to 2030,” Mr Truss said.
“Inland Rail will complement existing road and rail networks and will dramatically boost productivity. Initially, it will provide for 1,800 metre long trains carrying containers stacked two high and, in the longer term, much heavier 3,600 metre long trains.
“The new freight line will reduce transit time between Melbourne and Brisbane by more than 10 hours, reducing the journey to less than a day. It will remove 200,000 trucks, or 5.4 billion net tonne kilometres of freight, from roads each year.
“For the first time, south east Queensland will connect by rail to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, avoiding the need for freight to transit through the congested Sydney network. Inland Rail will reduce the distance between Melbourne and Brisbane by 200 km and carve 500 km from the Brisbane to Perth trip.”
Mr Truss said the Australian Government has already committed $300 million to get pre-construction activities underway, including detailed corridor planning, environmental assessments and priority land acquisitions. This work is continuing.
“The project will create up to 16,000 direct jobs during a 10-year construction period and a regular 600 jobs once operating,” Mr Truss said.
“The delivery plan indicates Inland Rail will generate economic benefits of around $22.5 billion.
“Importantly, the Implementation Group has identified that an early commitment to Inland Rail will give certainty for businesses and will allow the private sector to invest in complementary projects leveraging Inland Rail’s enhanced logistics benefits.
“The Implementation Group’s analysis indicates that there is some scope for private sector funding, however, the release of this Report will now allow potential investors to consider the merits of the proposal. If viable alternatives emerge that are substantiated by evidence, these would be considered on their merits and referred to Infrastructure Australia as appropriate.
“As with any project of this magnitude, it is important that Australian Government fully considers the project and how best to implement and fund it. As part of our consideration, I am referring the business case to Infrastructure Australia.”
The full Inland Rail Implementation Group Report is available online at www.infrastructure.gov.au/rail/inland/. The government will now consider the report in the context of the 2016 Federal Budget.
Inland Rail a transformative project: Australian Logistics Council
The completion of the Inland Rail Business Case brings this major logistics project one step closer to fruition, and has been welcomed by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) as a transformative project for generations to come.
“Inland rail is critical to Australia’s freight future given the expectations of the growth in the freight task,” said Michael Kilgariff, ALC managing director.
“We welcome finalisation of the business case handed to the Commonwealth Government today, and note it found an investment in inland rail has positive net economic benefits.
“I congratulate members of the Implementation Group, and its Chairman John Anderson, on their work to provide high level advice to Government on how Inland Rail can proceed.
“I also acknowledge the significant work of the Australian Rail Track Corporation to undertake a rigorous and extensive business case, which can now go to Infrastructure Australia for further analysis.
“This project is now developing a high level of industry interest as evidenced by the fact alternative consortia have also sought to have proposals considered. In the context of developing its 15 year Infrastructure Plan, IA has an important role to play in providing advice to government on these plans.
“The momentum gathering behind this project is exciting now that we have robust information on how the iconic inland rail project can be delivered.
“The funding requirements for inland rail need to be seen against the backdrop of the significant economic opportunities the project can deliver and enormous freight growth expected in Australia over the next 30 years.
“ALC research has shown that a 1% improvement in logistics productivity would have a $2 billion a year benefit to the national economy – inland rail is one such way industry and government can work towards achieving this economic dividend,” he said.
Mr Kilgariff said the business case confirmed economy-wide modelling indicates the Inland Rail Program will increase gross domestic product by $16 billion over the 10 year construction period and 50 years of operation.
“Australia’s freight task is also expected to almost triple by 2050, and rail needs to make a greater contribution to meet growing demand, particularly on the north – south corridor,” he said.
“Inland rail would complement the road and rail links already connecting Australia’s three largest cities along Australia’s east coast and reduce pressure on our road infrastructure, particularly in Sydney which often acts as a freight bottleneck because passenger rail is afforded priority.
“Inland rail would also reduce train transit times and transport costs between Melbourne and Brisbane, which would have a positive effect on transport companies, exporters and ultimately Australian consumers.
“The effective completion of this project would see the connection of our major mainland cities with a world class rail network providing the backbone for moving goods across the country safely, reliably and efficiently.
“From an economic perspective, not only will this project improve the global competitiveness of our key exports through providing a reliable rail transport alternative for agricultural and mining freight, it will also create thousands of jobs during and after construction, many in rural and regional areas.”
To view ALC’s Inland Rail Video, visit www.austlogistics.com.au/media-centre/videos.
ARA applauds Inland Rail Delivery Plan announcement
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has applauded the release of the ‘Delivery Plan’ to progress the much-needed Inland Rail project by the Australian Government.
Chairman of the ARA, Bob Herbert AM, in welcoming the release of the Delivery Plan, said it is an important forward step for this key infrastructure project, which is simply a ‘must have’ to meet the growing freight task in eastern Australia.
“The efficient movement of freight in Australia is crucial for our domestic economy and our ability to compete in international markets. This project will serve Australia well as rail is the most efficient, environmentally friendly, safe and cost effective mode of land transport,” he said.
“It is now imperative to lock in effective funding mechanisms and the timetable for delivery. This requires a strong commitment to action by the Federal Government to remove any remaining budget uncertainties.”
Mr Herbert said it’s also important to recognise the support for ‘Inland Rail’ from local governments along the proposed route.
“The Inland Rail represents growth opportunities for many regional communities, some of which have expressed interest in developments, such as intermodals and ports, connected with the project.
“A thorough consideration of these related proposals will ensure many flow-on advantages that a project such as Inland Rail could deliver for the benefit of regional Australia,” Mr Herbert said.