The $14.5 billion Inland Rail Project is set for a review by the Albanese government, as port authorities make calls for improvements to rail and road linkages to maintain critical supply chains.
The Australian’s Port’s Special Report has revealed the $14.5bn north-south Inland Rail project, which stretches from Melbourne to Brisbane, will be reassessed including a planning project to identify the timing and alignment of a dedicated freight corridor to the Port of Brisbane.
Indicating the review will be completed by 2023 a spokesperson told The Australian: “The planning project is investigating the need for better access, and what steps could be taken to improve rail freight reaching the port, while considering local residents’ concerns.”
Industry heads converged on Brisbane this week 31 August 2022 for the Ports Australia biennial conference.
Ports Australia chief executive Mike Gallacher has called for the Inland Rail development to connect to the ports.
Currently, double-stacked trains will run to Acacia Ridge, 38km from the Port of Brisbane, this leaves the last tranche to be transported through a single-stack dual-gauge for export, the Australian reports.
“It’s absolutely critical,” Gallacher told the publication. “If this project is to realise its full potential — to ensure efficient access to export markets for agricultural product — to have the Inland Rail finish 30km west of the Port of Brisbane is hardly efficient.
“What we don’t want to see is for any potential efficiencies for agricultural trade, and therefore the Australian economy, to be lost by virtue of the fact that this investment is truly an inland rail,” he said.
Inland Rail will span a distance of 1,700km, connecting Melbourne to Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland
Construction began in 2018, expected completion is 2027. Inland Rail states on its website however: “This an indicative estimate and will be determined by a number of factors, including ongoing community consultation, design development work and unforeseen weather events.”
Australian Logistics Council chief executive Dr Hermione Parsons said land access to ports was “a crucial issue.”
Dr Parsons said the Inland Rail needs to viewed with end-to-end supply chain efficiency in mind and for the project to be approached as “a system”.
“Supply chains are complex. At all times it is the interdependency of businesses and different points in the chain that make it so fascinating, so complex and sometimes so convoluted. The biggest impacts on ports at the moment continues to be the issue of encroachment and the non-investment in land for the future,” Parsons was quoted as saying in the report.