A new consortium has been commissioned to develop 16 local project proposals as part of the Federal Government’s $44 million Inland Rail Improvement Program.
The consortium, led by EY Australia, will develop the proposals with the organisations and groups that had been found eligible in the first round of the program’s applications.
This development will involve pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies and strategic business cases.
Intermodal hubs and new freight provisioning centres were among the proposals that secured further development.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, praised the innovation of the proposals.
“An intermodal facility at Mangalore, expanded freight infrastructure in the Riverina, road upgrades for a rail spur in Croppa Creek, and rail upgrades between Kurumbul to Thallon are just some of [the] big connectivity ideas that we are supporting through the Interface Improvement Program,” Mr McCormack said.
Proposals received through the Expression of Interest process were assessed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and by its independent assurance and technical advisor.
Eligibility to progress through to an appropriate assessment gateway for proposal development was assessed against the Interface Improvement Program principles and information requirements. The principles include supporting regional economic growth, capacity to increase Inland Rail throughput and supporting National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities.
Proposals will be developed through pre-feasibility or feasibility studies and strategic business cases, depending on the individual project proposal.
Mr McCormack said the Inland Rail project was about investing in Australia’s national freight network, enhancing supply chains and bringing jobs and economic opportunity to regional Australia.
“Large infrastructure projects deliver great stimulus to the national economy – Inland Rail, for example, will boost GDP by $16 billion and support 16,000 jobs during construction,” he said.
It is hoped that by delivering lower cost and increased reliability, Inland Rail would also stimulate regional economies over the long term.
The complementary businesses, manufacturers and logistics hubs that establish along this freight rail line are expected to provide sustained employment for people in regional Australia and boost gross regional product by up to $13.3 billion over the long term.
Federal Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, said Inland Rail would change the way freight is moved around Australia, offering a fast and efficient alternative to complement long-haul road transport along Australia’s east coast.
“The 1,700km Inland Rail line will connect Melbourne, Brisbane and regional areas through fast and reliable freight rail,” Mr Cormann said.
“This significant project will create around 16,000 jobs during the construction phase, while supporting approximately 700 jobs once it is operational.
“Now more than ever, our investment in Inland Rail is vital to build resilience in the national freight network that provides an essential service to Australians – delivering the inputs needed to drive small business and fuel our national economy.
“Our commitment through the Interface Improvement Program will further enhance community and industry connectivity to Inland Rail, and ensure our producers and manufacturers remain competitive.”
Federal Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton, said the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program provided the valuable opportunity for local government, industries and regional communities to set the agenda for further investment and regional development ideas that connect to Inland Rail.
“No one understands regional Australia better than those who live there and I am pleased local government, industry and community representatives have taken the opportunity to submit ideas in the first round of the Interface Improvement Program,” MrCoulton said.
New supply chains enabled by Inland Rail stretch well beyond the tracks connecting Melbourne and Brisbane, and the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program is investigating options for regions to maximise their connections to this national freight network.
“We want to enable big connection ideas and reward those who are willing to innovate in their supply chains,” Mr Coulton said.
“We are backing local ideas because we know that the connections to Inland Rail will be critical to create economic uplift and ongoing jobs in our regions.”