The first delivery of Australian steel has been received at Peak Hill for construction of the Parkes to Narromine section of the Inland Rail.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Barnaby Joyce was joined by Parkes MP Mark Coulton and Riverina MP Michael McCormack to see the first five kilometres worth of steel be delivered.
Each piece of rail is 165 metres long and weighs 9.5 tonnes. In total, 14,000 tonnes of steel will be needed to complete the track between Narromine and Parkes.
Mr Joyce said the Inland Rail project would contribute to a stronger, more resilient nation and would have amazing benefits for regional areas.
“This is a great day for regional Australia but more importantly this is a tremendous day for the nation,” Mr Joyce said.
“Today we are seeing pieces of steel 165 metres long being unloaded so that we can bring trains that are 1.8 kilometres long and move them at speeds of 115-120 kilometres an hour, to give people in rural areas the capacity to be part of this corridor of commerce.”
Parkes MP Mark Coulton said it was an exciting moment to see the project begin in earnest.
“Today the Inland Rail moves from a concept to a reality,” Mr Coulton said.
“Already we are seeing councils from my electorate Narromine, Gilgandra, Narrabri, Moree are all making plans for how they take advantage of it.
“Individual farmers are already planning so they can load trains and take advantage of the cheaper freight.”
Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the rail line would inject unprecedented economic gains for the region.
“Today is the first 600 tonnes being delivered to start the nation-building project, which will create $480 million in economic benefit to the Central West region alone,” Mr McCormack said.
“It takes product from farm gate, the paddocks of regional Australian communities like Mark and I represent right through to port.”
Australian Rail Track Corporation CEO John Fullerton said deliveries would continue over the next month. Construction work will begin once all permission approvals have been gained and will include reconstruction of the existing track and upgrading of bridges, culverts, level crossings and crossing loops.
Mr Joyce dismissed suggestions that towns on the line wouldn’t gain any benefits.
“What you will see, I’ve seen it already, is every town that isn’t on the line wants it, and that’s because they know it’s going to bring commerce and industry,” he said.
“The private sector is already working it out and we are seeing massive investment in Parkes as we get people saying we are going to build better facilities there to assist in the construction of this.”