NSW, Victoria Inland Rail Sections Steam Ahead

July 17, 2023

Industry News

Words by Marisa Wikramanayake, The Urban Developer

Despite the review under way into what infrastructure projects remain viable and feasible, sections of the Inland Rail project are moving ahead.

When it announced the review earlier this year, the Federal government said work on certain sections of the project would continue, subject to relevant planning approvals .

This included track connections in Beveridge in Victoria and Parkes in NSW, which are scheduled to be completed by 2027.

Martinus Rail has now been awarded a $403.5-million contract to provide the rail line between Albury and Illabo, and Stockinbingal and Parkes.

The sections are 183km and 170km of railway track respectively. Work is due to start on the Stockinbingal-Parkes connection later this year, and on the Albury-Illabo connection by mid-2024, subject to planning approvals.

Progressing the Inland Rail stages south of Parkes would unlock the benefits of Inland Rail sooner, creating jobs and boosting regional communities, Federal finance minister Katy Gallagher said.

“Inland Rail is supporting Australian companies, with more than $2.7 billion in contracts already awarded to more than 400 suppliers and businesses across the country,” she said.

The works will also include enhancing station precincts at Albury, Wagga Wagga and Forbes, and bridge upgrades, slews and track lowering.

Work will be done on a crossing loop at Daroobalgie to create height and width clearances for planned double-stacked freight trains.

Meanwhile, the Federal government announced it would create an entity, the Inland Rail Pty Ltd, to oversee the project after recommendations from Dr Kerry Schott , acting chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), who undertook a review of the Inland Rail project.

Schott found that the costs for the project had blown out with not enough governance, oversight and accountability for when projects would be delivered or how cost increases would be addressed.

Federal infrastructure, transport, regional development and local government minister Catherine King said: “The establishment of Inland Rail Pty Ltd and the updated statement of expectations, are examples of this government getting on with the job to refresh the approach to delivering Inland Rail ensure it is adequately funded and resourced.”

Six people have been appointed to the Inland Rail Pty Ltd board; Infrastructure SA director Robert Rust as chair, Sydney Metro non-executive director Louise Thurgood as deputy chair, National Intermodal Corporation chair Erin Flaherty, Community Safety Building Authority Advisory Board chair James Cain and WestGo Consortium chief executive Vivienne King.

Schott as acting chair of ARTC will be the final member of the board with Peter Duncan to replace her when he resumes his role as ARTC chair.

In Victoria, construction has begun on Somerton Intermodal Terminal at the 45ha Austrak Business Park north of Melbourne as part of the $58-million Port Rail Shuttle Network.

The terminal itself will cost $400 million to construct and the Intermodal Terminal Company is developing the project.

Intermodal Terminal Company’s social media has stated that Aware Super has funded the project and that Acciona has begun construction.

Contracts have also been awarded to Coleman Rail and Infrastructure Nation.

The company also says it will be Australia’s first fully electric terminal with the ability to take domestic and import/export freight trains when it becomes operational in 2025.

It is estimated to take 500,000km of truck trips off Melbourne’s roads which is equivalent to losing 454 million trucking kilometres, saving 451 million litres of fuel and preventing 189,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.

There will be an estimated 190 jobs created during construction with another 50 jobs estimated for the operational phase in 2025.

The Port of Melbourne has spent $125 million to put in rail infrastructure to cater for the new freight shuttles.

Freight services between SCT Logistics Interstate Freight Facility at Altona and the Port of Melbourne began last month.

Salta Properties has also been involved by constructing an intermodal freight terminal point at South Dandenong within an industrial precinct and hub it has developed.