Inland Rail: a national celebration
With the first section of greenfield track already open, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack recaps what was an important year for Inland Rail.
CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST UPON US
It is a time to pause, celebrate and reflect on the year’s achievements. But this Christmas, we can look a lot further back as we approach the 100th anniversary of the founding of The National Party of Australia on 22 January 2020. With uninterrupted representation in the Australian Parliament, our party has achieved much in that time. We’ve fought passionately for the things we believe in.
We’re passionate about promoting vital infrastructure across regional Australia and connecting the regions to the rest of the country. We’ve always done that. In 1970, we delivered standard gauge rail between Sydney and Perth and February is the 50th anniversary of that achievement. We’re very proud of our party’s role in delivering standard gauge from east to west. Today, we are just as pleased with of our role in building Inland Rail from north to south and 2019 was a tremendous year for Inland Rail.
A SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE
In August, a significant milestone was reached with the opening of the first section of greenfield track – the North West Connection – with the first trains already running on this track. The North West Connection is a 5.3km greenfield rail track joining the existing Broken Hill Line to the existing rail track south of Henry Parkes Way, near Parkes in the Central West of New South Wales, significantly increasing the efficiency of trains heading across Australia.
Inland Rail will help cater to the growing demand for domestic inter-capital freight and will provide regional businesses and farmers with new opportunities to grow their exports by helping them transport their produce to market when and where it is required. By mid-next year, the North West Connection is scheduled to link up with the rest of the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail, which we started building a year ago.
BENEFITS FOR FREIGHT
The North West Connection is vital for our freight industry and we will see markedly improved travel times and capacity for multiple train movements throughout the intersecting network, which means, when Inland Rail is fully operational, more productive supply chains operating across Australia. Initial modelling from the CSIRO indicates an average transport cost saving of $76 per tonne can be achieved by shifting specific agricultural supply chains from road to rail and this CSIRO study is now being extended right along the route.
BENEFITS FOR THE REGIONS
In October, the Parkes Logistics Terminal opened. Terminals play a vital role in the consolidation, storage and transfer of freight between rail and road — our terminals are critical to our supply chain network, ensuring that truck, train, ship and plane are connected and keeping our nation running. Parkes is at the centre of this future connectivity, as we’ve already seen with the North West Connection opening up freight supply chains as far reaching as Perth.
Make no mistake, the regions form Australia’s economic backbone. They grow the crops, farm the stock, harness the energy and help keep some of our most precious cultural heritage alive. Without the regions, Australians living in the cities could never have the lifestyle they enjoy today.
So it’s good news that our strong economic management allows us to invest in projects with a regional focus, such as Inland Rail.
Inland Rail is a centrepiece of the Liberal and Nationals Government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline. This once-in-a-generation project will transform the way freight is moved around our great country. It will support 16,000 jobs during construction and provide a $16 billion boost to our national economy over the long-term.
As individual sections are completed and added to the national network, regional producers will have earlier access to the national capability of Inland Rail.
Today, The Nationals’ 100-year-old commitment to the regions is stronger than ever. We have championed connecting the regions to the rest of the country from the start. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
I would like to wish everyone across this great nation a happy and festive Christmas and safe and prosperous New Year.
This was published in the December 2019 edition of the Daily Cargo News.