INLAND Rail, the project to a create a north-south freight route in Australia using new and existing infrastructure, expects to complete a major section by 2027.

Mr Nick Miller, Inland Rail’s new CEO, told delegates at the Australasian Railway Association Rail Freight Conference in Sydney on April 10 that the company is making “strong progress” and that the southern-most section between Beveridge and Parkes is due for completion in 2027.

This part of the 1600km Inland Rail line between Melbourne, Victoria, and Brisbane, Queensland, is mainly an upgrade but with a section of new line between Illabo and Stockinbingal. The 2027 completion date is in line with the recommendations of an independent review into Inland Rail, which has previously come under fire for slow progress.

Work has recently been completed between Beveridge and Albury in Victoria and between Stockinbingal and Parkes in New South Wales.

According to Miller, environmental approvals in New South Wales are progressing well, with the state government in the final stages of granting approval for the Albury - Illabo and Illabo - Stockinbingal sections. The Australian federal government approved the Narromine - Narrabri section in February.

In the north, Inland Rail hopes to finalise the environmental impact statement for the Border - Gowrie section for submission later this year to the Office of the Co-odinator General which is responsible for managing the approval of infrastructure projects in Queensland.

Rail freight operators are already taking advantage of the upgraded section of Inland Rail Last month the first GrainCorp train ran on the upgraded Narrabri - North Star section, loading rapeseed oil at Croppa Creek and moving it to the Port of Newcastle for export.

 “Inland Rail is one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever undertaken by the Australian government, it is a critical part of the transport supply chain and the economic development of Australia and is needed to keep pace with the freight demands of our growing population,” Miller says.

“Inland Rail is not a stalled project: we are making strong progress on the ground, two sections have already been completed in New South Wales, work is well underway on a third, and we should receive two more major environmental approvals in the coming months.”

For detailed data on projects around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.