SIGNIFICANT inroads have been made in the construction of the $15 billion Inland Rail, and acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the latest milestone will greatly benefit the Tamworth region.
An agreement has been made for contracts worth a combined $1.2 billion, which will see companies Laing O'Rourke and Acciona CPB Joint Venture seek partnerships with businesses and operators in the area for civil works construction.
Mr Joyce said 630 culverts, 58 bridges and 17 fire ducts will need to be made to support the 306 kilometre stretch of the rail between Narromine and Narrabri.
He believes Tamworth is an obvious place for many parts to be built, and said some local businesses are already reaping the benefits.
"If you go to [Taminda manufacturer] Humes, they've got around about 120 to 130 directly or indirectly employed now, and they're building the culverts," he said.
"And a lot the industry and the repairs and maintenance and contractors come from the Tamworth area.
"So if they're not a substantial part of the contract, they're in the sub-contracting section."
Construction on the section is set to start in late 2022.
Meanwhile further north, strong progress is being made on the Narrabri to North Star route.
Since early works began in September 2020, 164 residents from the area have worked on the project, including 47 First Nations people.
More than 100 businesses from the local government areas the track runs through have been used for supplies.
Just less than 9.9 kilometres of new rail has been installed, and Parkes MP Mark Coulton said he is hoping the section can be completed before harvest.
"It's exciting to see so much activity happening along the rail line, particularly near Gurley south of Moree," he said.
"So far more than 160 locals have been employed and 110 local businesses have supplied the project which is fantastic, providing a welcome economic boost to the communities of Narrabri, Bellata, Moree and North Star at a time when it's most needed.
"Inland Rail is a game-changer for regional Australia and the whole country, and I look forward to seeing it progress further."
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