The North West New England region is just one of many throughout NSW, Victoria and Queensland set to benefit from the inland rail which will soon become a reality thanks to the federal government’s $8.4 billion commitment to the project.
Touted as the biggest rail project in 100 years, the 1700km project to connect Brisbane to Melbourne via Toowoomba, Moree, Parkes and Albury was a centrepiece of the 2017-18 budget, announced by treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday night.
Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said not only will it create 16,000 jobs during the construction phase, the project will also bring many permanent jobs, particularly to Moree, one of the key points along the route.
“Moree will be one of the big winners out of this,” he said. “This inland rail line will give producers another option to load their grain to port. The intermodal between the cities will also take the pressure off the number of trucks that travel up the Newell.”
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said Tuesday’s budget announcement was “fabulous news”, cementing the work Moree Plains Shire Council has done in preparation for the inland rail.
“Now plans can really roll forward,” she said.
“We’ve already have been working tirelessly and fruitfully with all the involved agencies and communities and we’re well down the track in our preparations.”
Given that Moree is ideally located in the heart of Australia’s most productive agricultural area, Cr Humphries is confident it will be chosen as one of the major stops, providing a massive boost to the local economy.
“We are the most agriculturally productive shire in Australia, therefore it’s a no-brainer that we obviously be the second stop on the inland rail line,” she said.
Deputy chair of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance Sue Price said the federal government funding reduces the uncertainty around the project.
“It allows a certainty around the project and allows other businesses that might develop in the corridor to go ahead because the project is happening,” she said.
Not only will the inland rail reduce freight costs for producers throughout the region, it will also help take thousands of trucks off the road, reducing the high toll on road infrastructure.
“There’s an unlimited amount of opportunity being created,” Cr Price said.
“It will mean that producers will have the choice to send their produce to Brisbane, to Melbourne, to Newcastle, or even further afield to achieve better prices.”
Construction is set to begin by the end of the year and is expected to be completed by 2024.