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The federal government is investing a further $5.5 billion into the Inland Rail project in what it believes will deliver a "jobs bonanza".
The money will go into nine extra viaducts and 6.8km of additional bridges, and 450km of fencing, while removing 139 level crossings in an attempt to make the 1700km rail line safer and more efficient.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said these enhancements will also deliver significant benefits for regional communities, businesses and jobs.
"Inland Rail is a jobs bonanza," Mr McCormack, who is also minister for transport, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This world-class freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will be the 'spine' of the national freight network, enabling travel between Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours, while connecting major ports and all mainland state capitals."
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia will have a mammoth freight task into the future.
"Our urban freight task alone is expected to increase by nearly 60 per cent over the next two decades," Senator Birmingham said in the joint statement.
"An enhanced Inland Rail will ensure we have the capacity to meet Australia's future freight needs."
The first section of the line between Parkes and Narromine in NSW is now completed and work has now started on the 171km stretch from Narrabri to North Star section.
Separately, the government is providing $200.2 million for the stalled Murray Basin Freight Rail project following the completion of a revised business case.
Mr McCormack said the extra funding includes $5 million for planning the standardisation of the network and is in addition to the $240.2 million the federal government has already committed to the project.
He said it is crucial that a reliable rail network is available to efficiently move grain, mineral sands, fruit and vegetables and wine, and to encourage more freight off the road network.
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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