Construction on the Inland Rail has marked a significant milestone this week, with the Australian Rail Track Corporation contractors INLink taking possession of the existing track between Goonumbla in Parkes and Narwonah in Narromine.
Having undertaken all the preliminary works to prepare the site, the possession enables the project team to start construction, with the works expected to continue through to 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon. Michael McCormack MP joined representatives of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, construction partner INLink, local suppliers and Parkes Shire Councillors to inspect the progress of works, with the final 14,000 tonnes of Whyalla steel delivered to site this week.
Parkes Shire Council's General Manager said, "It has been a long-term vision of the Parkes community to see Parkes as a national logistics hub and the Inland Rail project is the major link in the chain that will start to see this vision realised."
"We are also optimistic because of the large-scale business enquiries we are receiving. This is backed by the State Government's investigation into a Special Activation Precinct in Parkes bringing a step change in regional development and agricultural value add for the region's agricultural producers."
"It is great to see the flow-on effects already for local businesses and suppliers now that the construction of the first phase has commenced," said Mr Boyd.
Owner of Andrews Auto Electrics in Parkes, Wayne Osbourne said "we started working with INLink on their light vehicle fleet when they arrived in town six months ago, and now that's progressed into working for the sub-contractors."
"Even though there's been a downturn because of the drought in the rural sector, we've never been busier. We've put on two new apprentices in the last few months, as well as some more admin support."
Construction works will upgrade the existing infrastructure to Inland Rail standard in preparation for heavier, longer freight trains to travel between Melbourne and Brisbane when Inland Rail is in operation, expected in 2025.
With around 1200km of the Inland Rail project between Melbourne and Brisbane utilising existing track and rail corridors, there will be many more staged possessions as the project progresses to enable workers to carry out construction in the rail corridor safely.
“With Inland Rail accelerating in the Central West, it’s great to see 60 workers from INLink already working on the Parkes to Narromine section and the benefits of Inland Rail flowing to the local community,” ARTC Project Director Parkes to Narromine, Colin Forde said.
The possession milestone follows the official Sod Turn for Inland Rail in Parkes on 13 December 2018 which marked the start of work on the 5.3 kilometres of new rail track called the North–West Connection which will join the existing Broken Hill Line to the existing rail track south of Henry Parkes Way.
Ongoing, work on the Parkes to Narromine corridor includes new and rehabilitated track formation, culvert, rail, concrete sleepers, crossing loops, signalling/control systems.
INLink is a joint venture between BMD Group and Fulton Hogan and was appointed to construct the Parkes to Narromine section in 2018.
Anyone with questions about Inland Rail can call 1800 732 76.