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The Croppa Creek community's proposal for road upgrades for a rail spur has been given the green light in preparation for the Inland Rail.
It is one of 16 proposals to be further developed thanks to the federal government's $44 million Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said an EY Australia-led consortium had been commissioned to further develop the proposals with the successful organisations and groups.
"Sixteen projects were found eligible in this first round of applications, and those groups are now working with the EY-led consortium to develop pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies and strategic business cases," he said.
"An intermodal facility at Mangalore, expanded freight infrastructure in the Riverina, road upgrades for a rail spur in Croppa Creek, and rail upgrades between Kurumbul to Thallon are just some of big connectivity ideas that we are supporting through the Interface Improvement Program.
"Inland Rail has always been about far more than building a rail line - it's about investing in our national freight network, enhancing supply chains and bringing jobs and economic opportunity to regional Australia."
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton said the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program provided the valuable opportunity for local government, industries and regional communities to set the agenda for further investment and regional development ideas that connect to Inland Rail.
"No one understands regional Australia better than those who live there and I am pleased local government, industry and community representatives have taken the opportunity to submit ideas in the first round of the Interface Improvement Program," he said.
"New supply chains enabled by Inland Rail stretch well beyond the tracks connecting Melbourne and Brisbane, and the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program is investigating options for regions to maximise their connections to this national freight network.
"We want to enable big connection ideas and reward those who are willing to innovate in their supply chains.
"We are backing local ideas because we know that the connections to Inland Rail will be critical to create economic uplift and ongoing jobs in our regions."
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Inland Rail would change the way freight is moved around Australia, offering a fast and efficient alternative to complement long-haul road transport along Australia's east coast.
"The 1,700km Inland Rail line will connect Melbourne, Brisbane and regional areas through fast and reliable freight rail," he said.
"This significant project will create around 16,000 jobs during the construction phase, while supporting approximately 700 jobs once it is operational.
"Now more than ever, our investment in Inland Rail is vital to build resilience in the national freight network that provides an essential service to Australians - delivering the inputs needed to drive small business and fuel our national economy.
"Our commitment through the Interface Improvement Program will further enhance community and industry connectivity to Inland Rail, and ensure our producers and manufacturers remain competitive."
Proposals received through the Expression of Interest process were assessed by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and by its independent assurance and technical advisor.
Those given the green light to progress will be developed through pre-feasibility or feasibility studies and strategic business cases, depending on the individual project proposal.
This article first appeared on www.moreechampion.com.au
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