Inland rail study second stage results

Australian Rail Track Corporation is today releasing the results and working papers of Stage 2 of the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail Alignment Study.

The Australian Government announced the study in March 2008 to determine an optimum alignment, economic benefits and likely commercial success of a new standard gauge inland railway between Melbourne and Brisbane.

During Stage 2 of the study the 1880km option identified in Stage 1 was further assessed, with a focus on the development of a potential route, including preliminary land and environmental assessments. It also included a more detailed economic and financial analysis based on further demand and operating cost studies.

During the course of this further work, an alternative 1690km option emerged. With the optimisation of passing loops, this option would provide a Melbourne-Brisbane transit time of approximately 22 hours.

Similar to the 1880km option, the analysis of the 1690km route showed it to be financially unviable on a standalone commercial basis. However, this shorter option could potentially offer better public good benefits.

The capital cost of the 1690km option, subject to further analysis, is estimated at $3.75 billion.

The study team will continue in Stage 3 to develop a more financially viable option. Work will include further analysis of likely demand, and the optimisation of capital costs.

As the 1690km route shows a potentially stronger financial performance as well as a potentially better public good benefit, it has been adopted for further analysis in the study’s Stage 3.


The study is being carried out for the Australian Government by the Australian Rail Track Corporation. ARTC has commissioned consultants to examine technical issues relating to the inland railway – engineering and environmental; and its financial and economic benefits and costs. The Lead Technical Consultant is Parsons Brinckerhoff with Aurecon and Halcrow; and the Financial and Economic Consultant is PricewaterhouseCoopers with ACIL Tasman and SAHA.

The six working papers produced in Stage 2 of the study have been placed on ARTC’s website. From the main page at, go to Investment Strategies/Inland Route Study/Working Papers.

The six working papers are listed below.

Comments on the working papers are invited, and will be taken into account in the final stage of the study. Work to be undertaken in this stage will include:

  • Refinement of the preferred route and alignment, including environmental and land assessment
  • Refinement of capital and operating costs
  • Development of a delivery program and delivery strategies
  • Further refinement of the financial and economic assessment of the proposed railway.

The results of the final stage will be contained in the report of the study, to be completed early in 2010.

The study’s terms of reference are attached.

List of Stage 2 working papers

  • WP6 Design Standards
  • WP7 Preliminary Environmental Assessment
  • WP8 Preliminary Land Assessment
  • WP10 Development of Route
  • WP11 Stage 2 Capital Works Costings
  • WP12 Stage 2 Financial and Economic Analysis

Note that WP9, Engineering Data Collection, has been deferred until Stage 3 of the study.

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