Construction of the 1 700 km Melbourne – Brisbane Inland Rail freight corridor was officially launched in December 2018.

AUSTRALIA: National infrastructure manager ARTC has begun public consultation on the Environmental Impact Statement for the longest section of new construction in its 1 700 km Inland Rail corridor.

Running for 306 km though the central west region of New South Wales, the Narromine – Narrabri line is intended to connect the Parkes – Narromine route, which has already been reconstructed to accommodate longer and heavier trains, with the Narrabri – North Star line where upgrading work is currently getting underway.

The EIS was released for public comment on December 8, with the consultation open until February 7. Feedback will then be reviewed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment to determine whether any changes might be needed to the project plans.

The preferred route via Burroway, Curban, Mt Tenandra and Baradine has reportedly been the most controversial section of the Inland Rail project in the state, with the NSW Farmers Association and Country Women’s Association starting legal action in July over the hydrology modelling for the new line.

‘This 306 km section of new rail infrastructure is essential to deliver the fast, lower-cost and reliable Inland Rail that Australia needs to meet the growing freight challenge’, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Regional Development Michael McCormack, announcing the start of consultation. However, he recognised that ‘we must deliver it by listening to and respecting those people who call this land home. Submissions made through this important regulatory approval process will help federal and state environment departments to better understand the views of the community and inform their assessment of the project.’