It was an historic day for Parkes Shire and indeed Australia with the first stage of the Inland Rail project now complete.
106kms of track forms the first leg from Parkes to Narromine (P2N) which has delivered more than 760 local jobs and over $100 million in expenditure with Parkes Shire businesses.
Parkes Shire Mayor Cr Ken Keith OAM joined the Deputy Prime Minister the Hon. Michael McCormack MP and Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton MP in officially opening the P2N track in Peak Hill on Tuesday 15 September 2020.
“What a significant and momentous day,” declared Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack.
“Inland Rail is nation-building and today recognises a great milestone in this transformational infrastructure.”
Cr Ken Keith thanked the Australian Government for their investment in Inland Rail which will revolutionise the way freight is moved around Australia.
"Inland Rail has long been a vision of Parkes Shire, and we were delighted as a Council to see the Inland Rail gain momentum and start being built."
"The project has had significant economic benefits for the Parkes Shire community including Peak Hill, particularly during these trying times of drought and now COVID-19."
"During the construction phase, Parkes Shire's unemployment rate reduced from 7.6% in 2018 to now 4.4% which is well below the national average. In addition to this we have seen the private sector investing in Parkes because of Inland Rail, with Pacific National investing in a $35 million new terminal and an advance manufacturing plant investing $23 million. The NSW Government has also announced the Parkes Special Activation Precinct and are investing $185million in enabling infrastructure all to take advantage of Inland Rail."
"ARTC have worked closely with Council and the community to utilise many local businesses from the construction industry to coffee shops which are often a sea of hi vis first thing in the morning - they have even sponsored our local festivals and events."
I do encourage the towns further north in the next stage of Inland Rail from Narrabri to Moree, to embrace the project and realise the economic benefits that will flow onto those communities.
"The sooner we get it built, the better for the Nation," concluded Cr Keith.