An important milestone has been achieved for the Inland Rail project, with the Parkes to Narromine section now complete at Peak Hill.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said, “What a significant and momentous day. Inland Rail is nation-building and today recognises a great milestone in this transformational infrastructure.”

Mr McCormack said Peak Hill was an appropriate location for the achievement as it was there on 15 January 2018 that the first shipment of Australian-made steel was delivered to begin the project.

“Inland Rail is an investment in Australia – in our economy, in our regions and in the capacity of our future freight network,” Mr McCormack said.

“This is real progress on a project which has been talked about since federation, already our Government has delivered more than 1,800 jobs and $100 million in local stimulus through Inland Rail.

“The corridor of commerce we are building with Inland Rail stretches 1,700km from Melbourne to Brisbane – we are turning steel into stimulus as we lay the tracks that will deliver jobs and opportunity.

“We have invested $25 million in ballast and capping (800,000 tonnes) from Parkes-based companies Calvani Crushing and Ausrock Quarries – a great example of how local procurement is at the heart of Inland Rail.”

Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, described Inland Rail as a once-in-a-generation project that delivers major benefits to the nation.

“Long-haul rail is cheaper, safer and more reliable than road, that’s why the Australian Government is enhancing the national freight rail network through our investment in Inland Rail,” Mr Cormann said.

“The shift from road to rail builds resilience in our freight network – not only will Inland Rail deliver a long-term freight solution for Australia to meet the needs of our growing population – it is also a critical investment supporting an efficient Australian economy.”

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, said today’s milestone showed Inland Rail was happening and will become a vital part of the network required to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task for the next 50 years.

“Inland Rail will present new growth opportunities for farmers, producers and manufacturers in the regional areas of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria,” Mr Coulton said.

“Regional businesses have been calling out for world-class transport and logistics to get their products to market and the Australian Government is delivering.

“Today we have shown that the future of an efficient rail freight network is achievable, and will enable effective supply chains, national productivity and competitiveness for our nation.”

Minister Coulton said the Parkes to Narromine section was built with the skills of local communities – more than 760 locals contributed to the project and almost $110 million was spent with local businesses.

“As we continue building Inland Rail we will see even more growth opportunities for local businesses and employment for those in regional Australia,” Mr Coulton said.

“We’re now looking ahead to the Narrabri to North Star project, scheduled to commence construction later this year, where we will see similar local benefits as Inland Rail provides a much-needed catalyst for stimulus in our regions.”

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said, “This is a significant moment for the Inland Rail project, with the Parkes to Narromine line available for use by business and industry in the region.

“Inland Rail will drive significant benefits for regional Australia and today’s milestone is just the beginning. We are pleased to see this first part of the project open for business to deliver the first of many benefits to producers and businesses in the region.”

Ms Wilkie said Inland Rail would provide critical rail freight connections to regional Australia, with the community in and around Parkes to be among the first beneficiaries of the project. 

“The promise of Inland Rail has already generated significant activity in the Parkes region as the community readies itself for the opportunities better rail freight connections will bring,” Ms Wilkie said. 

“It is now critical that the project’s swift progress across the rest of the route is supported so even more communities and businesses can benefit in this way.” 

Ms Wilkie said Inland Rail would support greater use of rail freight throughout eastern Australia as the national freight task continues to grow in the coming decades.

Better rail freight connections are expected to take more trucks off regional roads and provide reliable, sustainable and direct connections to key logistics hubs. 

“Inland Rail is a truly transformative project that will create jobs, connect businesses to more and more customers and make our regional roads safer,” Ms Wilkie said. 

Key Parkes to Narromine facts include:

  • Upgrades to 98km of existing corridor and 5.3km of new rail
  • 1,862 people worked on the project, 762 of these are local residents from the Parkes area
  • 302 Indigenous people worked on the project, 197 of whom are local Indigenous workers
  • 99 local businesses supplied to the P2N project, nince of which are Indigenous businesses
  • $109.7 million total spend with local businesses, $14.1 million of which has been spent with Indigenous businesses
  • $20 million in steel rail (14,000 tonnes) supplied by Liberty OneSteel Whyalla, South Australia
  • $20 million awarded to Rocla, Mittagong for 200,000 concrete sleepers
  • $13 million worth of culverts weighing 26,625 tonnes from Holcim, Tamworth
  • 365,000 rail clips from Pandrol, Blacktown
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