Australian Inland Railway
The Australian Inland Railway is a project of National significance addressing one of Australia's greatest competitive disadvantages, the tyranny of distance. It is a planned railway linking the Port of Melbourne to the Port of Brisbane. The vast majority of freight in this corridor is currently carried by road due to the limited rail infrastructure, significant transit times and prohibitive costs. The development of the Australian Inland Railway would have many benefits of national significance including:
- Improving the efficiency of transport and logistics throughout Australia;
- Reducing the economy’s relance and demand for oil;
- Significantly reducing the emission of pollution and greenhouse gases;
- Reducing road congestion and improved safety on major highways;
- Providing the catalyst for modal-shift to rail.
The 2006 Ernst and Young, "North-South Rail Corridor Study 2006" indicates a transit time of 20.4 hours is possible for an investment of $3.1 billion. A 20.4 hour transit time is below the 27 hour door-to-door transit time recognised as the driver for competition between road and rail.
The proposed Inland Railway will logically accommodate 1,800 metre trains, which are now setting new efficiency benchmarks for the freight industry. The Australian Inland Railway must have strategically placed multi-modal facilities to optimise freight distribution to the nation. Inappropriate location or configuration of multi-modal facilities has the potential to adversely effect transit times as currently occurs with many existing facilities which are unchanged since there establishment often up to century ago.
On Friday 6 August 2010, The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government announced that the Federal Labour Government would build the Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Railway and pledged $300m to commence the pre-construction work in 2014. The announcement coincided with the release of the final stage of the Australian Rail Trunk Corporation's Inland Rail Study (ARTC), funded by the Federal Government.
Parkes council has been a strong advocate of the Inland Rail and believes its construction will be a genuine nation building project which will significantly reduce the cost of freight movement, improve safety on highways and freeup the coastal rail routes for passengers. Council has lobbied strongly, made submissions, been active on the ATRC and demostrably developed the Parkes National Logistics Hub, which is perfectly placed and the intersection of nation freight routes.
The Hub is situated at the confluence of the proposed Inland Railway and the Sydney-Perth transcontinental railway with direct higher mass limit vehicle access to the Newell Highway. The Parkes Hub has over 500 hectares of land zoned for 24 hour, 7 day per week operation of multi-modal facilities. The opportunity to consolidate, double stack and reconfigure freight, shift freight to and from road and rail freight direct to any capital city is optimised only at this location. The Parkes National Logistics Hub will be highly synergistic with the Inland Railway and is already a demonstrable driver of modal shift.
The Parkes National Logistics Hub is poised to expand in the near future with this growth magnified if the Inland Railway proceeds. Significant development applications have been approved for multi-modal facilities of national significance. Discussions with major landholders within the Hub including Asciano and SCT Logistics indicate that certainty in regards to the future of the Australian Inland Railway is needed to inform investment decisions. Confirmation of the development of the Australian Inland Railway through Parkes would be the catalyst for over $200 million of private investment within Parkes in the transport and logistics industry. This would be a major contribution to meeting the nation's freight task and an enormous benefit to the economy of Parkes and that of Regional New South Wales as a whole.