Calls for $1billion for Inland Rail

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The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Alliance (MBIRA) – an alliance of councils – is urging the Federal Government to make a decision on the long-debated Inland Rail project.

Chair of the Inland Rail Implementation Group, former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, has requested the Federal Government allocate more than $1 billion in funding for the Inland Rail.

Deputy Chair of MBIRA, Councillor Sue Price of Moree Plains Shire Council, has welcomed Mr Anderson’s comments and said a business case for the project is currently being assessed by Infrastructure Australia.

“The Business Case indicated a positive cost benefit analysis and stated that 16,000 direct jobs will be created during the 10 year construction period, with a further 600 jobs to be created upon operation. However, MBIRA feels that the flow-on effect in regional communities will be even greater.”

Cr Price said the Business Case put forward indicated that the Inland Rail will, “enable farmers to move agricultural products more efficiently for domestic use and for export, as it will pass through some of Australia's most productive farming country.

“The Business Case also recognises further benefits to supply chain efficiencies for commercial freight and benefits to consumers and to regional areas. Not to mention the benefits of helping reduce that number of freight trains travelling through the already crowded Sydney network, which will open up slots for passenger trains.”

There has been no formal announcement on the financing of the project, but over the past few weeks, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has awarded more than $11 million in contracts to progress planning stages.

Contracts include technical field studies and environmental assessments across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

Cr Price also said, “Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce recently acknowledged that there would be money allocated to the project in the upcoming budget, although he did not state how much.”