Inland Rail not a stalled project, CEO insists

The boss of Australia’s largest Infrastructure project has used his first public address as CEO to insist that the Inland Rail project is not stalled.

Nick Miller (image: Inland Rail)

The 1,600km Inland Rail freight rail project aims to connect Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

However after a key independent review found a $15 billion blowout, the government amended its plans to focus on finishing the section from Melbourne to central western NSW and defer the portion up to Brisbane.

In an address to the Australasian Railway Association Rail Freight Conference in Sydney on Wednesday, CEO Nick Miller said Inland Rail is on track to deliver strong progress in 2024 and complete the section from Beveridge, north of Melbourne, to Parkes in NSW by 2027.

“Like all major projects Inland Rail has had its share of challenges and setbacks and I dare say there are more to come in the years ahead,” he said.

“However let’s make one things clear: Inland Rail is not a stalled project.”

Key milestones on track

During a detailed run-down of progress on the Inland Rail, Mr Miller said key milestones were on track and significant benefits were already being delivered, with $420 million spent on local businesses since February and 2200 local residents employed on the project.

Successful possession works had been completed on the Beveridge to Albury project in Victoria and the Stockinbingal to Parkes section in NSW, Mr Miller said.

He also said environmental approvals in NSW were progressing well, with the state government in the final stages of approval for the Albury to Illabo and Illabo to Stockinbingal sections in southern NSW and a green light from the federal government for Narromine to Narrabri.

Contrary to recent media reports Inland Rali is still progressing in Queensland and northern NSW.

Nick Miller

 In Queensland, Inland Rail was hopeful of finalising the Environmental Impact Statement for the Border to Gowrie section with the Queensland Co-Ordinator General in the coming months.

“Contrary to recent media reports Inland Rali is still progressing in Queensland and northern NSW,” he said.

“The government will determine the future delivery schedule north of Parkes once land has been acquired and there’s greater certainty around cost.”

Governance arrangements addressed

Mr Miller noted his address came a year after the release of Dr Kerry Schott’s independent review and the government’s subsequent decision to establish Inland Rail Pty Ltd as a subsidiary to take over delivery of the project from the Australian Rail and Track Corporation (ARTC).

“We continue to work closely with the Australian government to implement the recommedations (of the Schott review) including strengthening governance arrangements and establishing a subsidiary company to deliver inland rail,” he said.

“My expectation is the subsidiary will be fully operational by May.”

‘Nation building project’

Mr Miller said Inland Rail was a transformational and nation building project that would address increasing freight arising from a growing population and economy, and would improve the lives of people in the communities in its path.

He acknowledged the project had been through difficult times in the past 12 months, and that the  challenges of a project that traveresed three state governments and 29 local governments were considerable.

“The task ahead is not easy but I’m confident we can meet the challenge of delivering a long standing national vision to transform our supply chain and create a more prosperous Australia,” he said.

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4 thoughts on “Inland Rail not a stalled project, CEO insists

  1. Johnhancox@

    This report fails to provide any confidence. It seems the disaster that Ns Schott uncovered is still being delivered by the same team and the costs will continue to exceed budget or expectations. This looks like the Nation’s biggest disaster not the biggest infrastructure project.

    1. Not to make light of a serious subject, but it does read like a script for the ABC Utopia series, especially given Nick Miller’s reference to a “nation building project”…

  2. The proposal to terminate the double stacked trains at an intermodal at Ebenezer whilst good for the people living in Brisbane, will do nothing to improve freight movements and may mean Inland rail becomes a white elephant.
    Freight being exported needs to get as far north as possible by rail, and with no double handling to be competitive. The obvious answer then is to extend the line from Toowoomba to Gladstone port.

    1. It takes many parties to get Nation building infrastructure built. This one activity is unlike any other we done as it is States working with with other states, through a national body. Not the Feds themselves.

      Most of our previous effort have been internal to States.
      So, you get costly delays in major projects if they have as many regulatory hurdles to jump.

      Case in point is The Heavy vehicle national regulations is only now Finally getting together. That due to the pressure / buy in of the leading road transport operators.

      It seems the journey of Inland Rail was setup to fail. and so its amazing that we have progress at all.
      Agree there seems no sense in finishing at Ebenezer. No Strategic sense, outside votes for state members.
      So, The option to go to Gladstone Port has National value.

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