The Inland Rail project is making progress with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) entering a new phase of consultation.
The study area for the section between Illabo and Stockinbingal has been refined and a 250m-wide Focused Area of Investigation (FAI) established.
Inland Rail Albury to Parkes Project Director, Cameron Simpkins, said, “The comprehensive studies and investigations undertaken to date by our Inland Rail teams have narrowed the original study area from a width of about 2km to about 250m-wide.
“The process of determining a Focused Area of Investigation has already resulted in a reduction in the number of landowners who may be directly impacted from 65 to 22.”
Mr Simpkins said a broad range of factors were considered in the process to determine the Focused Area of Investigation.
“Considerations included technical viability, environmental impacts, safety assessments, construction and operations requirements as well as community and property impacts.”
The narrowed focused area is the most direct route, using existing road corridors where possible and minimising the impacts on farming land. It also minimises the number of level crossings required, and avoids known Aboriginal artefacts, flood prone areas to the west, and rocky terrain to the east.
“All the information we’ve been gathering in consultation with the local community is fed into our design process, as we rely on local knowledge to help us get the best result,” Mr Simpkins said.
“We are now consulting closely with landowners, and we are also holding community information sessions this week, to share more details and seek feedback about the focused area of investigation and proposed elements such as road and rail crossings.
“Our consultation activities during the coming months will then further inform how the design will progress as we work towards defining a final rail corridor of 40 to 60m.”
Mr Simpkins said the ARTC will continue to work closely with landowners.
“We understand that landowners’ properties are critically important and many have queries about what Inland Rail is going to mean to them.
“For some landowners, this is a difficult process and we are focused on working closely with them to give them as much certainty as we can, as soon as we can, around the project, process and the alignment.
“As we enter this more detailed phase of our studies, we are taking care to ensure we meet with all landowners on an individual basis and discuss the unique aspects of their properties and what is important to them.
“We’ll continue this consultation with landowners and complete the necessary environmental approvals before we release the proposed final 40 to 60m-wide rail corridor as part of our Environmental Impact Statement in early 2020.”
The Illabo to Stockinbingal section will provide a new direct route from east of Illabo tracking north to Stockinbingal and will comprise 37km of new rail track. The route bypasses the winding section of track called the Bethungra Spiral on the Main South Line, creating a more efficient way to transport freight.