The largest freight rail infrastructure project currently underway in Australia, the Inland Rail project will completely change how Australia’s farms, mines, ports and cities access domestic and international markets when it opens in 2024/2025.
The new line will link Brisbane and Melbourne via Toowoomba and central-west New South Wales, helping complete the ‘spine’ of the country’s national freight network. The current Brisbane to Melbourne rail line experiences significant constraints as it travels through the congested Sydney network and it bypasses the country’s richest farming regions. Not only will the new line support these regions, it will provide significant supply chain benefits, improve linkages by standardising gauge connections and relieve the burden of freight travelling on overcrowded inland road routes. About 500km of new sections will be built in regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, with 1200km of existing rail infrastructure to be enhanced and upgraded, thus minimising the environmental and community impacts associated with creating new rail corridors.
The Australian government is delivering the project through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and has already committed $8.4 billion to it on top of the previously funded $900 million. It’s not an insignificant amount, but a detailed economic analysis prepared by PwC posits that substantial benefits will flow from the opening of the new line. In addition to generating economic benefits of $22.5 billion, it’s estimated that approximately 16,000 jobs will be created at the peak of construction, with 700 jobs generated by the time Inland Rail is operational. It will also act as a catalyst for other complementary investments right though the supply chain, including new multimodal terminals, distribution centres and processing facilities along the new rail corridor.