The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack and General Manager GFG Alliance (Whyalla Liberty Primary Steel) Carol-Anne Nelson were in Parkes on Monday to mark the completion of the first contract from Liberty’s Whyalla steelworks to the Inland Rail project.
"Today is a significant milestone in the delivery of the inland rail, the nation building infrastructure near Parkes where the east, west, north and south railway lines intersect," Mr McCormack said on Monday.
"The last of 14,000 tonnes of Whyalla Steel, Australian Steel, Australian jobs that’s what it means, are being dropped off here today which is going to help finish the Narromine to Parkes section."
The turning point coincides with work increasing on the construction of the North-West Connection, 5.3km of brand new rail which will link the existing national Interstate railway network to Inland Rail.
ARTC’s CEO of the Inland Rail project Richard Wankmuller said it was great to see Aussie steel underpinning Inland Rail and securing Australian steelworker jobs.
“Whyalla steel rail is already used widely for projects across ARTC’s rail network, with Liberty Primary Steel currently supplying three large steel rail contracts concurrently.
“The construction underway and supply of steel rail to the Inland Rail project is an example of how a project - that has been talked about for generations - will benefit all Australians for the next 100 years,” Mr Wankmuller said.
Liberty Primary Steel has been steadily manufacturing the 14,000 tonnes of steel rail for transportation to Parkes since being awarded the $20 million contract in December 2017.
Liberty Primary Steel General Manager Carol-Anne Nelson said the company is proudly providing 14,000 tonnes of steel rail into the inland rail.
"It’s very exciting as the only Australian producer of rail steel to be providing into this nation building project," Ms Nelson said.
"The steel rails are produced in Whyalla, in South Australia, and shipped up here to form the basis of what will be a really premier grade railway for a long time to come.
"In total the project will need about 160,000 tonnes of steel rail so it’s a very exciting time for the industry.
"We understand ARTC and the federal government do have a choice about where they buy their steel, so we are very pleased and really excited they are buying Australian Steel."
Richard Wankmuller said with construction of Inland Rail now escalating, the benefits and jobs are flowing to regional Australia with other major contracts including concrete sleepers being fabricated in the NSW Southern Highlands, ballast coming from Parkes and culverts produced in Tamworth.
"We are excited to be partnering with regional business, boosting jobs, creating vital infrastructure for Australia’s future," Mr Wankmuller said.
"With construction accelerating in the Central West, it’s great to see 60 workers from INLink already working on the Parkes to Narromine section.
"More than $300 million is being spent here in Parkes, boosting spending at the local shops and supporting the local school or café or businesses such as the local auto electrician."
Rail construction works to upgrade the existing infrastructure between Parkes and Narromine to Inland Rail standard will continue into 2020 to enable preparation for heavier, longer freight trains to travel between Melbourne and Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
Inland Rail will offer a road competitive service which will reduce transit times for freight movements between Melbourne and Brisbane by rail to less than 24 hours, with reliability, freight availability and pricing to meet growing customer needs.