The ARTC has opened a Registration of Interest process and is seeking a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to build a section of the Inland Rail Project in Queensland.

Inland Rail Chief Executive Officer, Richard Wankmuller, said the ARTC is continuing to gauge market appetite for the once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver the Inland Rail PPP section from Gowrie near Toowoomba to Kagaru near Brisbane.

This partner will deliver the most technically-challenging section of the Inland Rail comprising approximately 130km of dual gauge rail, significant earthworks and complicated tunnels and bridges through the Toowoomba, Little Liverpool and Teviot ranges.

“Private sector involvement in the design, build, finance and maintenance of the PPP section of the Inland Rail programme is critical,” Mr Wankmuller said.

“There is leadership in the private sector that will deliver innovation and results. There is much we can learn from industry and the PPP will allow us to harness their energy, drive and excellence.

“Queensland will be the biggest beneficiary of Inland Rail with the benefit to the Gross State Product modelled at $7.3 billion during construction and the first 50 years of operation.”

Mr Wankmuller said that there will be up to 7000 new jobs in Queensland during the peak construction period, with job creation already beginning to flow to the state. Around 190 staff are already working for Inland Rail in Brisbane, including 40 on the PPP component.

“The PPP enables ARTC to access major Australian and multi-national builders and engineers to harness innovative design solutions and more efficient construction methodologies.

Mr Wankmuller said the Registration of Interest process was consistent with recent market practices for large infrastructure projects including the Melbourne Metro and Cross River Rail PPP projects.

“The ROI process allows ARTC to confirm the likely bidding field for the PPP while also signalling to the market that we are making progress on the procurement process ahead of the formal Expressions of Interest process in early 2019,” Mr Wankmuller said.

“This will allow those companies interested in the project to progress discussions with contractors, financiers and advisers.”

The announcement has been welcomed by the Australian Rail Association (ARA).

“The announcement that the Government is seeking private sector interest and involvement in the PPP for the Gowrie to Kagaru section of the project represents a significant milestone in the planning and construction of this national freight rail project,” said Danny Broad, ARA CEO.

“This market sounding process is an important signal to the private sector that the Australian Rail Track Corporation is committed to partnering with organisations who can provide innovative solutions to design, build, finance and maintain the PPP section of the project.

“The construction of the Queensland leg of the Inland Rail project is technically complex with significant tunnelling required through the Toowoomba Ranges.

“It is critical therefore that the private sector is closely involved in this process from the outset to provide new thinking on tackling the project’s inherent challenges to ensure we get the best outcomes from a freight efficiency perspective.”

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