THE Australian Government last week said the proposed Brisbane-to-Melbourne Inland Rail project has reached a major milestone, with the first round of open tenders being advertised.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the tenders are for engineering design and environmental services.
"Inland Rail is a game-changer. It is vital infrastructure that will boost capacity and productivity along the country's fastest growth freight corridor. It is a critical investment in jobs, growth and future prosperity, as well as a boost for the regional areas along, and around, its route," Mr Truss said.
"It will transform freight movements through south east Queensland, across regional New South Wales and rural Victoria, linking with the existing national network to move produce around the nation more efficiently.
"We know Australia's freight task will double by 2030 and triple along the eastern seaboard. Inland Rail will connect key production areas in Queensland, NSW and Victoria with export ports in Brisbane and Melbourne, with linkages to Sydney and Perth, boosting regional economic growth and driving national productivity.
"These first tenders will help develop planning for some of the key segments of the Parkes to Narromine and Narrabri to North Star sections.
"The Australian Government has committed $300 million to commence work on the Inland Rail project. These tenders are a clear demonstration that real progress is being made and that we are delivering against our commitment.
"I have charged the Australian Rail Track Corporation with developing a 10-year delivery plan for Inland Rail and appointed former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson to head the Inland Rail Implementation Group, to oversee that work.
"We're getting on with the job of delivering world-class infrastructure that secures Australia's transport needs well into the future, while creating jobs, economic growth and opportunity for all Australians."
Mr Truss said regional suppliers will benefit throughout the 10-year delivery of the project, with any successful tenderer required to demonstrate regional participation.
"When complete, Inland Rail will deliver a road-competitive freight rail service from Melbourne to Brisbane via regional hubs in three states that will make a huge contribution to meeting Australia's freight challenge," he said.