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A “missing link” of the Inland Rail project is closer to being realised after the government announced the preferred study corridor for the Narromine to Narrabri section.
Still about two kilometres wide, the corridor will now proceed to the planning and approvals phase and federal Transport Minister Darren Chester said “community input will be essential”.
The corridor begins south of Narromine and circles the town before heading north to Curban and north-east through the Pilliga East State Forest to finish west of Narrabri.
Member for Parkes Mark Coulton welcomed the progress on the corridor, which is the largest section of new track on the Inland Rail route.
“It is a critical missing link to connect south east Queensland with regional New South Wales and the broader interstate rail freight network,” Mr Coulton said.
“This freight line will provide an avenue for freight companies that is cost-competitive with the existing road network, and will improve the competitiveness of local farmers and producers who are reliant on good transport links.”
Mr Chester said the corridor was chosen following community consultation and extensive engineering reports.
“ARTC will be working with affected landowners and communities to make sure their knowledge and experience is taken into account as the project progresses,” Mr Chester said.
“The preferred corridor best meets the requirements of the Inland Rail Service Offering, which is to provide a road competitive freight transport link between Melbourne and Brisbane in under 24 hours.
“In addition, it provides the best balance between economic, community and environmental considerations.”
Federal Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann said the preferred study corridor would now be taken forward through the NSW government’s planning and approvals process, which will culminate in ARTC preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project.
“As part of preparing the EIS, ARTC will be working within the preferred study corridor to determine the most feasible design solutions and the measures that will be used to address matters such as flooding, property impacts and farm operations during construction and operation,” Senator Cormann said.
“The Inland Rail freight infrastructure project will create a significant range of commercial opportunities, including in the Central West NSW region, better linking regional producers and industries to domestic and global supply chains.
“It will create the incentive for industry to explore new opportunities such as developing intermodal hubs and providing training for job seekers in a number of local communities.”
The Australian Government committed an additional $8.4 billion toward Inland Rail in the 2017-18 Budget.
For more information on the community consultation process, and to learn more about the project, visit https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/
This article first appeared on www.dailyliberal.com.au
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