Nine point plan to drive Inland Rail


Parkes conference leads to communique on priorities

Nine point plan to drive Inland Rail
Michael McCormack addresses the conference

 

Nine action points have emerged from the recent Inland Rail Conference organised by Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

The organisers say about 400 people attended the Parkes event backed by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Parkes Shire Council.

"The conference helped to clarify priorities for businesses, governments and local communities, and clearly set out what needs to be done next to ensure the significant public investment being made to construct the Inland Rail delivers real benefits for supply chain efficiency, safety, export competitiveness, employment and regional development," the organisers say.

Among the key ‘action priorities’ to emerge are:

  • ensuring that the Melbourne-Brisbane transit time of under 24 hours is adhered to – an absence of reliability and certainty will undermine market confidence
  • securing the cooperation and active involvementof the Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland state governments to construct the project
  • dealing with the ‘last mile’ issues by getting the planning and construction of links to the Port of Brisbane and the Port of Melbourne, as well as ensuring efficient rail linkages to key ports in NSW
  • using the multi-jurisdictional nature of the project to drive harmonisationof planning, environmental, freight data and industry training standards. National consistency in these areas will have benefits lasting well beyond the Inland Rail’s construction period
  • ensuring we equip the current and emerging workforce with skills needed to construct, maintain and operate the Inland Rail. This is imperative given Australia’s ‘infrastructure boom’ and ageing workforce
  • proactively engaging with local communitiesthrough local councils, schools and other relevant bodies to ensure they appreciate and can take advantage of the opportunities Inland Rail presents
  • partnering with the private sectorto drive innovation in how the project is delivered and push further direct and indirect investment along the route
  • demonstrating the absolute necessity of the Inland Rail project by highlighting negative consequences for Australia’s supply chain efficiency, traffic congestion, passenger rail services and road safety without vastly improved freight rail infrastructure
  • putting data gathering frameworks in place that will enhance freight visibility and demonstrate the viability of Inland Rail as the right mode for particular commodities.

"The response to this first industry-led conference focussed entirely on Inland Rail was phenomenal, and shows that industry participants are eager to work cooperatively with governments to deliver this transformation for Australia’s freight networks in the years ahead," the organisations say.

"Inland Rail will also form a central part of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy that is currently being developed by the Federal Government.

"Accordingly, it will be essential to focus on the development of infrastructure that supports Inland Rail’s seamless integration into the rest of our freight network, including linkages to ports and the development of intermodal terminals.

"The conference showed there is enormous enthusiasm for Inland Rail across a wide range of industries and a diverse range of communities, be it ports in our major cities or smaller regional communities eager to capitalise on its economic development opportunities.

"The challenge for industry, governments and all those associated with this project over the next year as construction begins will be to harness that enthusiasm, using it to ensure continued progress on the project, while also deepening community awareness about rail’s critical role in improving our export competitiveness and meeting Australia’s future freight task."

The ALC and the ARA are now exploring opportunities to stage the next Inland Rail Conference in Toowoomba in mid-2019.


 Read how the ALC views the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy here


In his address to the conference, federal infrastructure minister Michael McCormack noted ARTC advice that Parkes-based business Calvani Crushing and AusRock Quarries have been awarded Inland Rail contracts, totalling about $7 million.

They are to supply more than 195,000 tonnes of ballast and 120,000 tonnes of capping for the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine out of a total of 3.6 million tonnes of ballast and 3.4 million tonnes of capping the whole route will require. 

Having nailed intergovernmental agreements with NSW and Victoria in April and March respectively, McCormack says he is looking forward to signing up the Queensland government "in the not-too-distant future and we’re working very hard on that". 

 

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