Let the construction of the multi-billion dollar Inland Rail begin.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Michael McCormack and NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro – along with Parkes’ Mayor Ken Keith OAM, new Australian Rail Track Corporation Inland (ARTC) Rail CEO Richard Wankmuller and a number of Parkes councillors – were in Parkes on Friday morning for a significant step in the Inland Rail project.
The Federal and NSW Governments signed an intergovernmental landmark Bilateral Agreement at the Parkes Railway Station, making way for the beginning of works on the Inland Rail project in NSW.
NSW is the second state to sign up to the nationally-significant project.
The new agreement provides consent for the ARTC to deliver Inland Rail in NSW.
Parkes Aboriginal elder Robert Clegg gave a Welcome to Country and told those present for the signing that the Inland Rail that will pass through Wiradjuri Country was a positive move.
Cr Keith said it was a special moment for Parkes, to have the event take place at the hub of the Inland Rail.
“To have the opening and signing of this document today is very significant, that it’s happening out in the region and not down in Macquarie Street or down in Canberra,” he said.
“I think it’s important that we’re on site where this is taken today.”
Mr McCormack said construction on the Inland Rail is expected to begin within six months.
He said the signing of the Bilateral Agreement was a landmark moment in the delivery of the project.
“Ken Keith, the Mayor of Parkes, mentioned it was appropriate that this function take place in Parkes, indeed, it is,” he said.
“Parkes is not only the hub as Ken called it, but also it’s significant because it is named after Sir Henry Parkes, the Father of Federation.
“Inland Rail will be a corridor of commerce for communities along the eastern seaboard and today’s agreement in Parkes is another vital step in making its vision a reality.
“Locals know how exciting this project is and – as a local MP – I know how Inland Rail will create local jobs and investment opportunities throughout the regions, as dealing with Australia’s future freight challenges well into the next century.”
Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann said the agreement provides certainty for the delivery of Inland Rail in NSW, and includes a commitment to negotiate a new long-term lease with the ARTC and protect the rail corridor.
“While construction for the Parkes to Narromine section will commence in the coming months, the agreement provides the guiding principles for the delivery of new sections of Inland Rail, including the 307 km corridor of new rail between Narromine and Narrabri,” he said.
“Inland Rail will provide the critical infrastructure needed to ensure Australia remains competitive by ensuring our freight and supply chain is modernised and productive to deal with the expected doubling of the freight task over the next 20 years.”
Inland Rail is expected to deliver widespread benefits throughout the state, including reduced congestion on roads and rail, and will importantly pave the way for the development of inland ports in regional NSW.
“Inland Rail has the potential to completely reinvigorate parts of regional NSW, well beyond the thousands of jobs that will be created in the construction phase,” Mr Barilaro said.
“This is all about helping NSW farmers get their product from paddock to port as cheaply and efficiently as possible, and in turn, putting money back in the pockets of those producers to reinvest in their businesses or spend in their regional and rural towns.
“What today’s agreement shows is that across all levels of government, there is a commitment to invest heavily in our regions, and a commitment to co-operate to deliver a transformational project not just for NSW, but for the country.”
The project will create a direct rail freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane capable of moving double stacked freight containers.
Once operational, Inland Rail will attract more freight to rail, diverting traffic from the Newell, Hume and Pacific Highways, and in turn freeing up space in the Sydney Metro area for more passenger services.
Infrastructure Australia, along with many NSW councils, has for decades listed Inland Rail as a ‘priority’ project.
More information about the Inland Rail project is available at https://infrastructure.gov.au/rail/inland.