Federal government greenlights longest stretch of Inland Rail

The federal government has given approval for a key stretch of the Inland Rail in mid-north-western NSW.

Rob Storey

Inland rail, the body charged with delivering the project, announced this week that the Narromine to Narrabri project has received approval from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The NSW government approved the section in February 2023.

 Inland Rail says the second tier of approval is a key step in delivering the rail line and providing more certainty that the ambitious freight project can be built to an agreed budget and time frame.

Narromine to Narrabri is the longest section of the line, involving more than 300kms of new track. Once constructed, it will link the Parkes to Narromine section, which is now operational, and phase one of the Narrabri to North Star section near Moree.

Engagement with local government

Inland Rail Director Pre-Contracts Rob Storey says the next step will see engagement with the NSW and local governments, as well as surveys and on-site investigations, as it secures land needed for the corridor.

“Inland Rail acknowledges the important input from the community, local landowners and businesses during the approvals process and remains committed to working with stakeholders,” Mr Storey said.

Under original plans, the 1,600km Inland Rail freight rail project was designed to connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

However in response to the Schott review into the Inland Rail released in April, which found a cost blowout from $16.4 billion to $31.4 billion, the government amended its plans to focus on finishing the Melbourne to Parkes portion by 2027 and deferring the portion from Parkes to Brisbane.

Mayor touts benefits for region

Meanwhile, in a promotional video posted by Inland Rail, Wangaratta Rural City Mayor Dean Rees backs the project saying the project will boost economic growth and leave an important legacy for the region.

Cr Dean Rees

Cr Rees says the Inland Rail will see the improvement of infrastructure that Council wouldn’t have been able to do on its own.

“Inland freight is always a super important thing, it’s all about creating jobs. We look forward to this continuing, growing quicker and further,” he says.

I believe ARTC will leave a great legacy with the reconstruction of new infrastructure that has been badly needed over the last 20-30 years here in the Rural City of Wangaratta and Glenrowan.”

Inland rail posted the video ahead of the opening of a new, higher bridge spanning the railway in Glenrowan after 12 months of disruptions.

It’s part of work being undertaken at 12 sites to ensure double-stacked freight trains can pass.

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