The Australian Government has released a ten-year delivery plan for the Inland Rail project, which connects Melbourne to Brisbane with a high-performance freight line.
The plan will see implementation of the A$10bn ($7bn) rail project to create a 1,700km line for freight traffic by building around 600km of new line.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss received the final report of the Inland Rail Implementation Group from chair John Anderson AO in Canberra.
The implementation group, which completed the delivery plan along with a detailed business case prepared by Australian Rail Track, said there is some scope for private funding.
The Inland Rail network is designed to meet future freight challenges and expected to treble along the eastern seaboard to 2030.
The new freight line will provide a direct rail link from south-east Queensland to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, as well as reduce the distance by rail from Brisbane to Melbourne by 200km and from Brisbane to Perth by 500km.
The railway will initially be designed for operations with 1,800m-long, double-stack container trains, and eventually 3,600m-long trains.
The line is also expected to reduce transit time between Melbourne and Brisbane by more than ten hours.
Truss said: "The Australian Government has already committed A$300m ($213m) to get pre-construction activities underway, including detailed corridor planning, environmental assessments and priority land acquisitions. This work is continuing.
"The project will create up to 16,000 direct jobs during a ten-year construction period and a regular 600 jobs once operating.
"The delivery plan indicates Inland Rail will generate economic benefits of around $22.5bn."
The analysis carried out by the Implementation Group shows that there is some scope for private sector funding, however, the release of this report will now allow potential investors to consider the merits of the proposal.
Truss further noted: "If viable alternatives emerge that are substantiated by evidence, these would be considered on their merits and referred to Infrastructure Australia as appropriate.
"As with any project of this magnitude, it is important that Australian Government fully considers the project and how best to implement and fund it. As part of our consideration, I am referring the business case to Infrastructure Australia."
In May, a total of seven Australia’s transporters of freight on rail and road have written an open letter to the country’s then prime minister Tony Abbott to take a call on the Inland Rail project.
The companies include Asciano, Aurizon, Genesee & Wyoming Australia, Linfox, Qube, SCT Logistics and Toll Group.