Construction of the once-in-a-generation Inland Rail officially began today, boosting jobs, creating vital infrastructure and strengthening the economy.

The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack turned the ceremonial first sod alongside ARTC executives, the construction contractor INLink and other dignitaries at the site in Parkes.

Construction of the project is beginning where the first 5.3kms of new rail for Inland Rail will be built, and around 98kms of existing corridors are being upgraded between Parkes to Narromine.

ARTC CEO John Fullerton said the start of Inland Rail construction heralds an historic and important milestone not only for the regions but the whole of Australia.

“The sod-turn for Inland Rail is a significant, momentous occasion and it’s fitting to celebrate it at the site where the first greenfields section of Inland Rail will be built. When Inland Rail is operational, Parkes will be an important hub with double stacked, 1800 metre trains connecting west to Perth and Adelaide and along the east coast between Melbourne and Brisbane,” said Mr Fullerton.

“Australia’s rail system  has always been essential to the freight supply chain and once built, Inland Rail will  enhance the national freight rail network – creating jobs, reducing supply chain costs and making Australia more competitive by linking-in with other major infrastructure to connect cities and farms to markets; faster, safer and more efficiently,” said Mr Fullerton.

Inland Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller echoed the sentiments, saying Inland Rail will transform the way Australia moves freight around the country and support the economy into the future by providing the backbone for a world- class supply chain.

“With Inland Rail we will have a more resilient rail network, with multiple pathways to meet the needs of our customers while also providing flexibility for our farmers by connecting to existing regional freight lines,” said Mr Wankmuller.

“Inland Rail is the safe, sustainable, integrated solution that will  help  address Australia’s  current  freight inefficiencies. This new 1700km freight rail line will help capture commercial opportunities in both metropolitan and regional areas through more efficient and commercially responsive supply chains.”

“ARTC is focused on timely project delivery and with support from the government, in partnership with the private sector and hand in hand with the  community,  we will ensure as many of the benefits as possible from  Inland Rail  will flow to local regions as well as the national economy,” said Mr Wankmuller.

ARTC Chairman Warren Truss said with Inland Rail now in construction, the benefits and jobs are being realised today around the nation with Aussie steel from Whyalla, concrete sleepers being fabricated in the NSW Southern Highlands, ballast coming from Parkes and culverts produced in Tamworth.

“Inland Rail will generate opportunities and benefits to the regions – 16,000 jobs and $16 billion dollars to the economy and will stimulate business activity beyond the construction phase,” said Mr Truss.

Inland Rail offers a road competitive service which will reduce transit times for freight movements between Melbourne and Brisbane by rail to less than 24 hours, with reliability, freight availability and pricing to meet growing customer needs.

Inland Rail will include approximately 1100kms of major upgrades and enhancements to existing track and construction of approximately 600kms of new track.

Media release issued by Inland Rail/ARTC Thursday 13 December 2018.