Inland Rail would carry 1 800 m long double-stack container trains (Photo: ARTC).

AUSTRALIA: The final report of the Inland Rail implementation group was delivered to the federal government on September 11, along with a business case developed by Australian Rail Track Corp.

The delivery plan outlines a 10-year timeframe for developing the proposed 1 700km corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane via Wagga Wagga, Parkes, Moree and Toowoomba. This would include building various sections of new line totalling 600 km and extensive upgrading, cutting the distance by 200 km and bypassing the congested network around Sydney.

Completion would cut end-to-end transit times by 10 h to less than 24 h. The line would initially carry 1 800 m long double-stack container trains running at up to 115 km/h, with 3 600 m trains planned for the longer term. It is estimated that this could remove 200 000 lorries or 5·4 billion tonne-km from the roads each year.

The government will now consider the report in the context of the 2016 federal budget. The overall cost is put at A$10bn, and A$300m has already been committed for planning and priority land acquisitions.

‘This report and business case provides the information needed to consider how best to build the Inland Rail network to meet the freight challenge of the coming decades,’ said Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss. ‘Inland Rail will complement existing road and rail networks and will dramatically boost productivity.’

Truss said the project would create up to 16 000 direct jobs during construction and 600 jobs once operating, and generate economic benefits of around A$22·5bn.