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National freight network project, Inland Rail, has found a new home in Toowoomba.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has established an Inland Rail project office on Margaret Street.
Inland Rail aims to make it easier to move freight from farms, mines, cities, ports to domestic and international markets.
The line will travel via Parkes and will build on existing regional and urban rail connections to provide access to the ports of Melbourne, Port Kembla, Newcastle, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
New intermodal terminals in Melbourne and Brisbane will reportedly enable capacity to accommodate double-stacked high performance trains.
Road transport will continue to complement all modes of freight.
Federal member for Groom and long-time supporter of Inland Rail Dr John McVeigh opened the larger capacity office and welcomed the increased presence in Toowoomba as a reflection of the importance the region was playing in the design and development of Inland Rail in Queensland.
“Inland Rail’s fast and reliable freight rail service is going to change the way farmers, producers and manufacturers in Queensland move their goods, opening up new markets and opportunities,” said Dr McVeigh.
“More than 60 per cent of the Inland Rail investment will be made in Queensland and much of this will be in Toowoomba. As we fast become a northern freight and logistics hub – it’s fitting that ARTC increase their presence in town as they work to refine the design of Inland Rail."
McVeigh said the new office can accommodate up to 40 people (all appropriately distanced). It also will serve as a hub for ARTC's community engagement for a number of sections of the project and function as basecamp for technical staff when in the field.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, said Inland Rail was of huge significance to Queensland and to regional Australia.
“Last year the Australian and Queensland Government’s signed an intergovernmental agreement to deliver Inland Rail in Queensland – we’re building Inland Rail and the private sector is already embracing it with investments in Toowoomba and the surrounding region,” said McCormack.
“The Australian Government is committed to growing our regional communities and supporting strong and vibrant regional economies through the creation of local jobs, economic diversification and regional growth – Inland Rail is a prime example of how we are activating our regions.
“No one understands regional towns better than the people who live and work there. Local knowledge and a connection to community improves the delivery of Government services and programs, such as Inland Rail," he said.
Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, said the opening of the ARTC Inland Rail Toowoomba Office was an important step for Inland Rail as it delivers important economic benefits to Queensland.
“Regional Australia is a significant contributor to our economy and Inland Rail will facilitate our regions connecting to markets at home and abroad, providing a sustainable and long term benefit to these communities and Australia more broadly,” said Cormann.
“Inland Rail will also provide more immediate benefits to Queensland, supporting 7,200 jobs during construction," he said.
The ARTC Inland Rail Toowoomba Office is part of a broader network of ARTC local support in regional centres along the alignment whose work complements the regional activities of Australian Government staff in offices in Wodonga, Dubbo, Moree and Toowoomba.
Earlier this month, the Federal Government released research that highlights investment opportunities as businesses establish and expand alongside Inland Rail. For the Southern Queensland region, for example, some of these opportunities include expanded logistics and cotton handling, food processing and greater airport capacity over the first 10, 30 and 50 years of Inland Rail's operation. The potential boost to gross regional product in the 10th year of operation is reported to be up to $340 million.
This article first appeared on www.trailermag.com.au
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