THE next phase of the Northern Inland Rail Project has gained momentum with a $693 million contract awarded to build the section between Narrabri and North Star.
The joint venture of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), Trans4m Rail, John Holland and SEE Civil was chosen to carry out the construction of the 171km of upgraded rail track.
Split into two phases, the first phase of the project consists of 93km of track between Narrabri and Moree, as well as construction of 80km of track between Camurra and North Star.
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Moree Plains mayor Katrina Humphries said the project had the potential to create scores of jobs for locals.
"With most of Trans4M Rail's workforce to be accommodated here in Moree, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many different businesses to cater for our influx of inland rail personnel as well as keeping our tourists happy too," Cr Humphries said.
"We are also really excited that Trans4M Rail is committed to employing local people and engaging with local businesses and suppliers.
"During the Parkes to Narromine construction, over $109.7million was spent with local businesses and 762 local residents worked on the project.
"This is all ahead of us. I can't imagine a better way for the Moree Plains to show the world we are open for business."
The announcement comes after the project's environmental impact statement was approved last month, despite legal action being launched by NSW Farmers and the CWA in July.
Parkes MP Mark Coulton said construction of the project was likely to begin by the end of the year.
"Inland rail will leave a legacy for regional areas - including North West NSW - for decades to come, providing world-class transport and logistics to help regional businesses get their products to market," Mr Coulton said.
"This project is about more than just steel tracks - we're already seeing opportunities for industry to invest in the region through the Northern NSW Inland Port at Narrabri and the Moree Special Activation Precinct - leveraging the advantages of inland rail to provide long-term employment and scope for future growth.
"Trans4m Rail has made a commitment to employ local people, engage local businesses and suppliers and work with communities in North West NSW to ensure the benefits of inland rail are felt throughout the community."
A proposal for phase two of the project, which consists of upgrading 13km of rail line track and track formation within the Narrabri to North Star corridor running from Moree north to beyond the Camurra Bypass, including the Mehi-Gwydir river crossings, and construction of 1.6km of new track and formation to bypass the Camurra hairpin.
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