Thursday 17th Oct, 2019

Ground broken on Inland Rail

Photo: ARTC

Construction has officially begun on Inland Rail, with a formal ground breaking ceremony in Parkes on Thursday, December 13.

Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack turned the ceremonial first sod alongside executives from the Australian Rail Track Corporation, representatives from construction contractor INLink and other dignitaries.

“This is truly a once-in-a-generation project and I’m proud to be part of this historic event, marking the formal start of construction,” the deputy PM said.

“Inland Rail is game-changing infrastructure. It will deliver jobs, not just during the construction phase, but permanent jobs through increased freight. Farmers will be able to move food and fibre between Melbourne and Brisbane, in larger volumes and more cost-efficiently.”

ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said the beginning of construction was an historic and important milestone, noting that Parkes was a fitting location for the first sod turning.

“When Inland Rail is operational, Parkes will be an important hub with double-stacked, 1,800-metre trains connecting west to Perth and Adelaide and along the east coast between Melbourne and Brisbane,” he said.

“Australia’s rail system has always been essential to the freight supply chain and once built, Inland Rail will enhance the national freight rail network.”

Inland Rail chief executive Richard Wankmuller agreed.

“With Inland Rail we will have a more resilient rail network,” Wankmuller said.

“Inland Rail is the safe, sustainable, integrated solution that will help address Australia’s current freight inefficiencies.”

Shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said Labor welcomed the start of Inland Rail construction, but accused the Coalition of being more than two years late to the first sod-turning.

“827 days have passed since the Coalition’s promised start date, which it committed to via a media release during the 2013 election campaign,” Albanese said.

“The inaction came despite the former Labor Government having invested $600 million to upgrade existing lines that will form part of the Inland Rail route, and having provided $300 million in the 2013 Budget to take the project forward.”

Albanese also criticised the Government for the project still stopping 38 kilometres short of the Port of Brisbane, at Acacia Ridge. He also said there has yet to be an adequate level of consultation with farming communities along the route.