The Federal Government has called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) putting forward projects for investigation under the $44 million Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program.
As part of the first round of business cases under the program, supply chain managers, producers, local and state governments, local businesses, community representatives and freight and train operators were encouraged to submit their ideas to the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.
The EOI period closed on 31 October 2019. Project ideas submitted via the EOI will be assessed against the program principles and criteria. Those projects found suitable will be matched with a service provider funded by the Australian Government under the program.
Under the two-year Inland Rail II Program, there is funding for:
- A $20 million Inland Rail Productivity Enhancement Program (PEP) to develop feasibility studies and strategic business cases to assess the costs and benefits of proposed improvements to the interface between supply chains and Inland Rail, with a view to improving supply chain and community resilience
- A $24 million Inland Rail Country Lines Improvement Program (CLIP) to develop feasibility studies and strategic business cases to assess the costs and benefits of proposed improvements to country lines that intersect with Inland Rail, with a view to potentially accommodating longer, heavier and faster trains
Under the program announced in the 2019 Budget, strategic business cases will investigate opportunities to upgrade the Gilgandra-Coonamble line, improving road/rail interface at Narrabri and enhancing the connection at Baradine’s grain silo to facilitate better connections between local communities and Inland rail.
The Federal Government will assess proposals against the parameters of the PEP and CLIP to determine whether a project is eligible to proceed to the next stage.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, said the program aimed to hear from local businesses’ ideas about how best to connect with Inland Rail.
“Inland Rail will create opportunities for towns to connect to cities and for small businesses to connect to broader markets through the national freight network. It is those connections to the broader network that will grow regions and build resilience in our communities,” Mr McCormack said.
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton, said the Interface Improvement Program brought communities one-step closer to realising the freight efficiencies and national connectivity that Inland Rail will deliver to the regions.
“A CSIRO pilot study from earlier this year demonstrated Inland Rail will bring average costs savings of $76 per tonne for key agricultural products,” Mr Coulton said.
“We want the cost savings from Inland Rail to be distributed far and wide.
“We know every town and supply chain is different and a one-size-fits-all approach to connect communities to Inland Rail won’t work.
“Inland Rail will connect our regions to an enhanced national freight network, and no one knows better how to maximise these connections than regional producers and communities.
“We are encouraging local people to come forward with innovative ideas, and are committed to testing value ideas through a rigorous business case process.”
Mr McCormack said the Federal Government had invested up to $9.3 billion in the construction of Inland Rail.
“We are committed to maximising the returns for our industries, cities and regional towns to benefit from the fast, reliable and joined-up freight network,” he said.
“Through the Interface Improvement Program we are supporting local organisations and individuals to put forward their ideas on how to improve the connections to Inland Rail and drive supply chain productivity from the 1700km freight rail line.”