The Chair of the Inland Rail Implementation Group, John Anderson, has delivered a call-to-action to regional leaders at the final Inland Rail stakeholder meeting held in Parkes, NSW today, saying the time is now for the bush to share their ideas and drive the construction of Inland Rail forward.
Mr Anderson and members of the Inland Rail project team have visited locations including Ipswich and Toowoomba in Queensland, and Narrabri, Dubbo and Parkes in NSW, as part of a first tranche of stakeholder information and consultation activities.
“This week is an early part of the hard work required to meet the Government’s schedule of a ten-year construction plan to be provided by the end of this year,” Mr Anderson said.
“To ensure we paint the clearest picture possible around the potential offered by this project, it is essential that submissions are provided and the best ideas, opportunities as well as challenges are tabled.”
Submissions to the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development regarding the Inland Rail programme close this month, on 30 June.
“The programme constitutes a major economic reform for Australia. It will change the way we send freight across our vast nation and while inter-capital freight underpins the demand for the rail line, it is often in the inland regions that we see the ideas and innovation needed to effectively take advantage of the reform opportunities this programme offers,” Mr Anderson said.
“Local Councils and communities have been vital in bringing Inland Rail to life through their advocacy and we recognise they will continue to play an important part in the programme’s future success, particularly as we progress through its next phases.
“Inland Rail will be the backbone for the future national freight task and provide a national Class 1 freight rail connection between our major metropolitan centres, regions and ports.
“The time is now to take advantage of this programme, plan for the future and use this as a platform to take a truly national approach to not only securing our freight future but all the additional social, environmental and economic benefits that can follow from this,” Mr Anderson said.
Inland Rail is the Australian Government’s priority rail freight project and it has committed $300 million to finalise planning, engineering design, environmental assessments and to start construction of the programme within its first term of government.
“I would like to thank the regional centres for hosting us and was incredibly heartened by the high quality feedback and insightful questioning we received throughout the week which we will be able to feed back into the programme and reinforced the confidence we have in regional Australia to help us deliver Inland Rail,” Mr Anderson said.