The Australian Government has awarded a $6 million contract for feasibility design work on the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail between Illabo and Stockinbingal in New South Wales.

The contract was awarded to WSP Australia and Mott MacDonald trading as IRDJV.

Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael McCormack, said the contract is one of many set to be awarded in 2018 for the 1700km project.

“Today’s contract award continues our commitment to see the project delivered, with construction in parts of New South Wales set to commence in 2018, creating thousands of jobs along the way,” Mr McCormack said.

“Residents of this region will know the importance of the Bethungra Spiral in supporting local farmers, which was delivered during the Second World War by our parents and grandparents, with its construction a significant engineering and technological feat of the time.”

Mr McCormack said local know-how helped deliver the Bethungra Spiral.

“We are looking at how we can draw on local skills and ingenuity again, by designing a section of rail that allows us to achieve a freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours—which is what this contract will help to achieve.”

Minister for Finance, Mathias Cormann, said the feasibility design contract was part of the Australian Government’s commitment to strengthen private sector investment in regional communities.

“New South Wales alone is set to see more than $2.6 billion in economic benefits flowing from the Inland Rail’s construction and operation, with $16 billion nationwide,” Mr Cormann said.

“This phase is highly detailed, taking up to two years to complete, and forms a crucial part of identifying engineering solutions for the route.

“The investigations undertaken will provide the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) with information about local geography, hydrology, flora and fauna, as well as air quality, noise and social factors to inform the feasibility design of the route.”

Construction works on the Illabo to Stockinbingal project will not begin until all necessary approvals have been received. 

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