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Project Update: Insights into the ARTC's $10b Inland Rail Inland Rail Summit 2018

More than 32 million tonnes of freight is expected to hit our highways and railways between Melbourne and Brisbane by 2030, with freight volumes forecast to grow by more than double that by 2050. Australia’s current road infrastructure simply cannot accommodate growth predictions.

The integral solution to increasing freight volumes and maintaining economic growth is the Australian Government’s $10 billion Inland Rail Project. The 1700km freight corridor link from Melbourne to Brisbane will connect capital cities, farms, mines and ports to deliver a road competitive service to support Australia’s future freight economy.

Ahead of Australia’s first Inland Rail Summit 2018 we explore this massive new project and delve into the project management and engagement strategies being utilised to deliver the masses of proposed economic and social advantages for Australian towns and cities.

Project Snapshot

17,000km

Inland Rail is a 17,000km freight rail network linking Melbourne and Brisbane in less that 24 hours.

13 Projects

Inland Rail has been divided into 13 distinct project. One in Victoria, seven in New South Wales and five in Queensland.

$10.9 Billion

Total construction cost for Inland Rail is estimated at $10.9 billion, with the Australian Government committing $9.3b

70% Brownfield Infrastructure

1,200km of existing rail infrastructure (rail lines and corridors) will be used to complete the 1,700km Inland Rail project

2024-2025

First train, which will be double stacked and up to 1800m in length, is expected to run along the new line in 2024/25.

New Infrastructure for Greater Economic Advantages

Australia is heavily reliant on efficient supply chains to provide competitive domestic freight links and gateways for international trade. Freight transport services between major population centres, particularly our capital cities, deliver millions of tonnes of freight each year and provide for the distribution of goods throughout the country.

With populations in the eastern regions of Australia forecast to grow by some 60 per cent over the next 40 years more efficient alternatives to sea and road transport need to be developed to ensure Australia maintains efficient and effective domestic supply chains that are internationally competitive against import chains, support economic growth, and help keep down the cost of products.

The Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail (Inland Rail) project is a nationally significant transport initiative. Inland Rail provides the opportunity to deliver a step change improvement in rail service quality across the critical north–south corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane that is compatible and interoperable with high productivity train operations in the east–west corridor.

The Turnbull Government’s new Inland Rail project, once fully operational in late 2024 – early 2025, will provide a high-capacity freight link - featuring double stacked trains nearly 2km long - between Melbourne and Brisbane through regional Australia to better connect cities, farms, and mines via ports to domestic and international markets.

With a transit time of under 24 hours between Brisbane and Melbourne, down 25% on current freight transit times, Inland Rail will offer freight customers 98 per cent reliability – compatible with road travel, flexibility for faster and slower services, and freight that is available when the market wants.

Along with better support for freight transport the project, which strategically utilises 1,200km of existing track and rail corridors, will also reduce the number of trucks on major highways, with one train carrying as much as 110 B-Double trucks, thus helping to make roads and towns safer and reducing emissions by 750,000.

Once all 13 Inland Rail projects are complete Inland Rail will boost Australia's GDP by $16 billion over the next 50 years. However some question still remains over whether value for money and deliverability options were fully considered during planning phases. With a slim benefit-cost ratio, at just 1.1:1 (every dollar of public money spent will yield just $1.10 of benefits), cost, risk management and timely project delivery are of the utmost importance.

Effective Project Management & Engagement

The Inland Rail project will be delivered by the Australian Government through the ARTC. Building on the Government’s $9 billion equity investment, the Government will utilise an innovative Public Private Partnership (PPP) funding arrangement to deliver the remaining funding required to complete the project.

A PPP will be set up in 2017-18, which will see three Queensland projects - Gowrie to Helidon, Helidon to Calvert and Calvert to Kagaru amalgamated into one project and constructed under the PPP arrangement

This funding approach will enable the Government to leverage private sector expertise in the design, financing, build and maintenance of the most technically complex section–Toowoomba to Kagaru (Brisbane)–which includes the construction of approximately 8.9 kilometres of tunnels through the Toowoomba Range.

The funding approach was subject to extensive market testing and will help better manage risk and drive value for taxpayers in delivering this nationally significant project. In 2016/2017 key contractors were named for the delivery of the three Queensland projects and include Clayton Utz, Aquenta Consulting and Arup/SMEC joint venture. In February 2018 the ARTC awarded technical and approval consultancy services contracts to the value of $31.5 million for the amalgamated three projects between Brisbane and Toowoomba.

While monthly project meetings with PPP partners, contractors, collaborators and end users are helping to ensure seamless delivery of the complex project and consistency across all 13 projects, the ARTC has further worked to engage local communities throughout the design and delivery phases to ensure long-term success.

Having identified engaging and effectively communicating with stakeholders as critical to the successful delivery of Inland Rail, the ARTC has developed a comprehensive stakeholder engagement and communication strategy which, since 2016, includes holding over 1200 stakeholder meetings.

The most important consultation to date undertaken by the ARTC has been with industry, customers and end users that led to the development of the Inland Rail service offering. Key stakeholder groups have shown sustained positive interest in Inland Rail, acknowledging it as a vital piece of infrastructure to reduce freight transit times and congestion, and create competition in the logistics supply chain.

The ARTC’s communication and engagement activities in the immediate future are planned to focus on working with key stakeholders to inform early refinement of the greenfield alignment for the Gowrie to Kagaru section of the project in Queensland, and will further focus on community engagement in the New South Wales town of Parkes, which is uniquely positioned in the Australian freight network at the intersection of the Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Brisbane railway lines, and the Newell Highway. As such Parkes is the site of the first of the 13 Inland Rail projects to commence works.

If you’re interested in learning more about Inland Rail delving into insights from the ARTC about PPP tender management, stakeholder engagement and project management strategies, then join us at the Inland Rail Summit 2018.

The event, held in Brisbane on the 28th – 29th May brings together over 15 freight rail experts from the likes of Pacific National, Port of Melbourne, InterLinkSQ, Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and Lockyer Valley Regional Council.

To secure your ticket to the event, and for special early bird prices simply fill in the registration form and email back to registration@iqpc.com.au

References

  • ABC, Tension on the Track, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-10/inland-rail-can-the-freight-line-truly-be-nation-building/8881334
  • ARTC, FAQs, https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/faqs/faqs
  • ARTC, Key Facts, https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/keyfacts
  • ARTC, Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail Business Case, https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/ehq-production-australia/5de589db79424a8f1344e2e42e171fc205104b99/documents/attachments/000/029/855/original/InlandRailBusinessCase.pdf?1448785278
  • Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, https://infrastructure.gov.au/rail/inland/
  • Australian Financial Review, Why the Inland Rail project will never add up, http://www.afr.com/opinion/columnists/why-the-inland-rail-project-will-never-add-up-20180221-h0wf9m

Credits:

Created with images by kalhh - "railway line railway route" • Tiago Gerken - "untitled image"

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