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IT is promoted as nation building at its best. A 1700km high-speed rail line that promises to deliver a reliable and efficient freight transport system, connecting Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours.
Based on the 10-year delivery program released in 2015, the first official double-stack container train is expected to operate in 2025.
Almost two thirds of the Inland Rail project takes advantage of existing rail corridor - particular in NSW and Victoria - building on decades of investment by the Australian government and the states in the Australian rail freight network.
In Queensland, it's a different story. Instead of choosing existing rail corridors, Inland Rail designers opted for a more direct 'green field' route in keeping with the freight system's goal of linking the northern and southern capitals in less than 24 hours.
The focus of the construction remains on the route from Yelarbon to Gowrie Junction near Toowoomba, including crossing the agriculturally significant Condamine floodplain.
While the corridor has been identified, neither the exact route or the construction method of the line across the floodplain has been announced to the ongoing frustration of affected landholders.
The first official double-stack container train is expected to operate in 2025.
The Australian and Queensland governments signed a bilateral agreement allowing the multi-billion-dollar Inland Rail project to move towards construction in Queensland.
With Queensland now officially signed up, all three eastern states are committed to the delivery of the nationally significant project. The new agreement effectively gives consent for the Australian Rail Track Corporation to deliver Inland Rail in Queensland.
Inland Rail chief executive Richard Wankmuller said the bilateral agreement was a landmark moment.
"It's a really exciting project, and with construction underway in NSW, we already know how Inland Rail will create jobs and investment opportunities as well as addressing Australia's future freight challenges," Mr Wankmuller said.
"Inland Rail will provide the critical infrastructure needed to ensure Australia remains competitive by ensuring our freight and supply chain is modernised and productive to deal with the expected doubling of the freight task over the next 20 years.
"As we've seen so successfully in regional towns like Parkes in NSW, Inland Rail has the potential to reinvigorate regional Queensland well beyond the thousands of jobs that will be created during the construction phase.
"We look forward to getting on with the job in Queensland."
At the peak of construction, Mr Wankmuller said the Inland Rail project would bring more than 7000 jobs to south east Queensland and would create a national asset that will continue to serve Australia for generations to come.
The Queensland section of Inland Rail is around 21 per cent of the total length of the 1700km project. An estimated more than $6 billion will be spent during the project build.
This article first appeared on www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au
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