THE Inland Rail will change the region – it will bring jobs, boost the economy and give business owners far greater options than ever before, the experts say.
Just a couple of weeks ago the first sod was turned on the very first section of the Inland Rail and it happened in Parkes.
The Inland Rail is a 1700-kilometre freight rail network that will run from Melbourne to Brisbane, via Parkes, and promises a transit time of less than 24 hours.
In the Central West, the train will pass through Parkes and Narromine. The project is due for competition in 2024-25.
Construction on the Parkes-to-Narromine section will include a 98-kilometre rail upgrade along with five kilometres of new track, while the Narromine to Narrabri works include around 300 kilometres of new track.
We really believe that the Inland Rail will have a positive impact and contribution to our region..Western NSW Business Chamber regional manager Vicki Seccombe
In Parkes there is already a host of Inland Rail workers and sub contractors and Parkes Shire Council general manager Kent Boyd said they are living and spending their pay packets in town.
“It’s real money and we are starting to see really tangible impacts in our community,” he said.
Data from Inland Rail shows this project will create around 16,000 jobs at the peak of construction, with an additional 700 ongoing jobs once the network is operational.
Mr Boyd said while the jobs will be fantastic for areas around the rail network, once finished the transport link will give businesses opportunities they have never had before.
“People are thinking ‘what does this mean and how can I take advantage of it’,” he said.
VIDEO: The making of the Inland Rail ...
“If you’ve got highly efficient access to ports [in Brisbane and Melbourne] it’ll give you better access to the emerging Asian markets.”
“It’s a Melbourne-to-Brisbane line that can be done in less than 24 hours so it’s comparable to road freight, but rail is significantly less cost than via road. Ten trucks will go on a single train.”
With the first train not expected to run until 2024-25, Western NSW Business Chamber regional manager Vicki Seccombe said it was too early to imagine the full impacts of the project.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns. We still need to understand the potential of how we can use the Inland Rail,” she said.
Ms Seccombe said, however, that some areas in the Central West would benefit more than others.
“Parkes and surrounding areas will probably benefit the most, especially with the Parkes Logistics Hub,” she said.
The Hub is a greenfield development by Parkes Shire Council that aims to attract importers, exporters and manufacturers to set up in the region.
“The Hub will be job-creating and I think that will flow on into the region,” Ms Seccombe said.
“Parkes is the epicentre really, and with the investment into that area and jobs, there’s the potential of needing more housing.”
Ms Seccombe said at this early stage of the Inland Rail’s development, she believed larger freight or agricultural produce companies may benefit more than smaller ones.
“We really believe that the Inland Rail will have a positive impact and contribution to our region,” she said.
“It will more effectively send stuff into the Brisbane or Melbourne ports and that really hasn’t been an easy task.”
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