Freight trains travelling from the east and west will next month be running on the transformational Inland Rail North-West Connection following the completion of construction on the first section of the new track.
The North-West Connection will link Inland Rail to the interstate east-west line from Sydney to Perth providing a vital connection for the freight industry.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack and Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton were onsite in Parkes, New South Wales, today to inspect the Inland Rail North-West Connection that will streamline freight movements across Australia.
"The North-West Connection is so important for our freight industry and we will see markedly improved travel times and enhanced capacity for multiple train movements up, down and along the intersecting network, which means, when Inland Rail is fully operational, more productive supply chains carrying our food, furnishings and resources across Australia," Mr McCormack said.
"Inland Rail is already expanding the national freight network and the opening of this section will also create a much-needed link that improves access between the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Interstate railway line.
"Inland Rail is one of the centrepieces 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 this great country.
"While Inland Rail is a multi-year project, the build schedule allows for individual components to be released into the national network, providing incremental benefit as sections are completed which means regional producers will have earlier access to the national capability of Inland Rail.
"The Government is committed to infrastructure and delivering results."
The North-West Connection joins the existing Broken Hill Line to the existing rail track south of Henry Parkes Way with 5.3km of greenfield rail track, significantly increasing the efficiency of trains heading across Australia.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Inland Rail would help build a more resilient economy by supporting regional businesses to pursue more opportunities to grow.
"Our commitment of up to $9.3 billion to Inland Rail is not just about changing the way freight moves along the eastern seaboard, it is about ensuring that we have efficient connections from regional Australia to domestic and international markets," Mr Cormann said.
"Inland Rail will help cater for the growing demand for domestic inter-capital freight and it will provide regional businesses and farmers with new opportunities to grow their exports by helping them get their produce to market when and where it is required.
"The benefits of Inland Rail are clear. The project will support 16,000 jobs during construction and will provide a $16 billion boost to our national economy over the long-term, helping to build resilience in our economy going forward."
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton said large-scale projects such as Inland Rail were increadibly important to regional Australia.
"One of the reasons I stepped off a tractor 12 years ago and went to Canberra was because of my belief in Inland Rail, and today's milestone has turned that belief into a reality," Mr Coulton said.
"Inland Rail is making a real contribution to communities like Parkes, by creating jobs for locals, injecting investment into the local economy and taking trucks off local roads.
"More than 70 central west businesses are supplying products or services and more than 280 local people are working on the project across a range of jobs, including engineers, tradespeople, labouring and administration staff.
"In total, around 700 people have worked on the Parkes to Narromine section alone, and these figures will keep growing as this transformational project moves into each stage of construction."
For more information on Inland Rail visit www.InlandRail.gov.au
Media Release issued by the Hon Michael McCormack MP