Faster, fuller freight fast-tracked for investigation

A bold initiative from the Federal Government will fast-track the investigation of opportunities for three communities in the Parkes electorate to access the benefits of the heavier, faster, and more efficient trains of Inland Rail.

As part of the $44 million Inland Rail Interface Improvement Programme (I.I. Programme) announced in Budget 2019, strategic business cases will investigate opportunities to support more productive rail-based supply chains at regional centres and help build capacity on key country rail lines.

Investigations will be undertaken to identify and assess the cost and benefits of;
• Upgrading the Gilgandra-Coonamble line;
• Improving the road/rail interface at Narrabri; and
• Enhancing the connection at Baradine’s grain silos;
to facilitate better connections between local communities and Inland Rail.

Federal Member for Parkes and Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation, and Local Government, Mark Coulton, said the fast-tracking of studies into the local connections highlighted the Australian Government’s commitment to provide opportunities for regional communities within the massive Inland Rail project.

“Inland Rail is a project offering a real opportunity to change the way rural economies operate, by better facilitating the flow of produce out and stimulating the flow of investment back in to these regions,” Mr Coulton said.

“It is clear that in order for communities like Baradine, Coonamble, Narrabri, and Gilgandra to make the most of this major project, we need to make sure the local connections and interfaces are in place to facilitate the best future for these communities.

“With connection comes opportunity.

“We have fast tracked work to identify potential improvements for these sections, and to explore opportunities to improve how this part of the regional rail network intersects with Inland Rail and the wider national freight supply chain.

“We have done this to ensure these opportunities – and Inland Rail – can benefit local communities sooner rather than later.”

Mr Coulton said farmers and graziers throughout his electorate are desperate for rain as they battle the enduring impacts of drought.

“We can’t make it rain, however by investing in nation-building projects like Inland Rail, we are forging a future of stronger and more resilient regional and rural communities, capable of bouncing back when the season does turn around,” Mr Coulton said.

“People in the Central West need to have access to a reliable, interconnected national freight network to deliver a vibrant, more resilient future for rural communities.

“Inland Rail provides this access, and we want to connect as many communities as possible to the benefits that flow.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the fast-tracked investigations on the Gilgandra-Coonamble line would develop pre-feasibility and feasibility studies to understand how potential network improvements could unlock further productivity with a more accessible Inland Rail.

“This investment, through the I.I. Programme, will help regional areas and the nation,” Mr McCormack said.

“Freight connectivity and efficiency supports economic growth and will maximise the returns for national productivity that we know are possible with Inland Rail.

“We want to help regions make the most of their natural assets, and to turn those assets into real and tangible benefits that will grow regional towns and build resilient local economies.”

For more information on Inland Rail and the Interface Improvement Programme visit www.InlandRail.gov.au