Q. What is Inland Rail?

A: Inland Rail is a 1,700km freight line between Melbourne and Brisbane, making it the largest freight rail infrastructure project in Australia. Early works commenced in 2017 and, based on the 10-year delivery schedule developed in 2015, the first train is expected to operate in 2025.

The Australian Government through the ARTC is delivering the multibillion-dollar infrastructure in partnership with the private sector.

The dedicated freight network will transform the way we move goods between Brisbane and Melbourne, and between the eastern states, Adelaide and Perth; support Australia’s four richest farming regions; and provide supply chain benefits and substantial cost savings for producers.

This transformational rail project will bring lower costs and greater efficiencies to freight customers and will help bring more produce and goods to consumers along the eastern seaboard. It will create long-term jobs, boost regional economies, and help businesses grow.

Q. What is the current status of Inland Rail?

A: The first Inland Rail EIS was released for public comment on 19 July 2017 – the Parkes to Narromine project in NSW. 

- All 13 Inland Rail projects (geographic sections) of the route have completed the Concept Assessment stage (the first of six stages in the project delivery plan). 

- 11 of the 13 projects are at the Reference Design stage (the second of the six project delivery stages) with the N2NS project at the Detailed Design (third) stage and the P2N in the Construction (fifth) phase.

- At the end of 2018, more than 1,386 Land Access Agreements were in place; that’s a 95% success rate.

- By the end of August 2018, more than 2,100 people participated in Industry Briefings across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with approximately 500 people attending Industry Briefings in Parkes, Narromine and Dubbo. 

- Registration of Interest (ROI) were issued in early October 2018 with Market Sounding taking place during November 2018 for the 126km section from Toowoomba to Kagaru in Queensland, including large-scale tunneling. This project will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership (PPP)

- Commenced formal planning approvals processes for three projects in Queensland: Gowrie to Helidon, Helidon to Calvert and Calvert to Kagaru. The Queensland Coordinator-General has declared the three projects as ‘coordinated projects’. 

- Commenced formal planning approvals processes for two projects in New South Wales: Parkes to Narromine, and Narrabri to North Star. The NSW Government has deemed both projects as ‘State Significant Infrastructure’. 

Q. Will the line have a passenger service?

A: The decision to run passenger services will be a matter for each State Government or for private operators. Inland Rail is freight infrastructure, however ARTC has a long history of working with State Governments and private operators to ensure passenger trains have access to the national rail network and deliver the service they require. These arrangements will continue to be the case for Inland Rail.

Q. Who will use and benefit from Inland Rail?

A: The major users of Inland Rail will be producers and their customers across a range of sectors and freight types. These include non-bulk containerised freight such as manufactured goods, food, hardware and other packaged goods, bulk goods like steel and paper, as well as coal. Inland Rail will travel through Australia’s four richest farming regions and will transform supply chains for agricultural producers, many of whose transport options are currently limited and inefficient.

Q. Who will run trains on the inland railway?

A: Inland Rail will be an open access rail service, so any accredited operator can run a train along the rail line.

Q. When did planning start for Inland Rail?

A: Inland Rail has been developed through progressive studies since 2006.

Q. How is Inland Rail organised?

A: Inland Rail is a large and complex program. To deliver the 1,700km rail line by 2025, Inland Rail has been divided into 13 distinct projects: seven in New South Wales, five in Queensland and one in Victoria.

A Public Private Partnership (PPP) was 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. 

The 126km section of Inland Rail from Toowoomba to Kagaru is the most technically complex of the entire 1,700km line and includes a new 6.38km tunnel to create an efficient route through the steep terrain of the Toowoomba Ranges. In early 2018, ARTC appointed a PPP Director to lead the development and delivery of the project. 

Q. What benefits will Inland Rail provide?

A: The benefits of Inland Rail are vast across economic, industry, environment, congestion reduction and safety categories. Some of the more prominent benefits are:

  • For every $1 the Government invests in Inland Rail, the rail infrastructure project will deliver a return to the Australian economy of $2.62.
  • Approximately 16,000 jobs will be created at the peak of construction and 700 ongoing jobs once Inland Rail is operational.
  • Boosts Australia’s GDP by $16bn over the next 50 years.
  • Support for regional community development and Australian businesses as a result of locally sourced resources for the construction and operation of Inland Rail.
  • Potentially lower prices for consumers as a result of lower inter-capital freight transport costs, which reduces the cost of living for households.
  • Freight customers will have the benefit of reduced transit times and greater service reliability between Melbourne and Brisbane; Adelaide and Perth and Brisbane; and from regional centres to capital cities.
  • Australia’s four richest farming regions (Darling Downs, Qld; West Moreton, Qld; Northern NSW and Goulburn, Vic) will enjoy supply chain benefits and cost savings.
  • Opportunities for farms and mines to take advantage of the efficient new supply chain.
  • New demand for goods and produce will be created resulting from improved accessibility and efficiency of Inland Rail.
  • Carbon emissions will be substantially decreased by 750,000 tonnes when freight travels on Inland Rail instead of road for the distance between Melbourne and Brisbane.
  • Reduced environmental costs as a result of removing heavy vehicles off the road network and reducing the rail distances travelled.
  • Reduction of congestion
  • Reduction of congestion on a number of major highways.
  • Truck volumes will be reduced in more than 20 regional towns along the route.
  • The re-routing of Melbourne-Brisbane trains via Inland Rail will free up paths for passenger and local freight trains on the rail network north and south of Sydney.
  • Save lives by removing heavy vehicles off the road network and moving freight onto rail.

Q. How long will it take to build Inland Rail?

A: The Inland Rail Program comprises 13 projects that will be built in stages over a 10-year delivery schedule developed in 2015. Consultation along the route will take place progressively, and timing is dependent on the stage of an alignment decision and relevant government planning approvals required. The first train is expected to operate in 2025.

Q. When will construction commence?

A: Construction is imminent in Central West New South Wales with over 200 people expected to be employed to construct the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail following the granting of Planning Approval in September 2018.

Q: Will Inland Rail be a single track?

A: Yes, Inland Rail will be a single track for most of the 1,700km rail line.

A number of passing loops (crossing loops) will be built along sections of the track, allowing trains to pass one another.

Q. How can industry become involved in the discussions around intermodal terminals in Melbourne, Brisbane and regional centres?

A. ARTC is tasked with building the rail line and, although the program will certainly spark complementary investments such as intermodal hubs, the location of intermodals is not part of the Inland Rail program deliverables. 

The demand for terminal locations will be driven by the market, and already Councils and businesses are getting together to make the most of the opportunities. For example, during 2018 Pacific National invested $35 million in a new hub in Parkes

To date, other locations have shown interest including Wagga Wagga, Moree, Narrabri and Toowoomba. 

Inland Rail will continue to work closely with the private sector and meet regularly with Councils, local MPs and business owners to make the most of these opportunities. 

For our part, we will to ensure the benefits of investment in intermodal terminals is maximised for local economies and the national freight network, and that relevant advice and technical support is provided around best location and structures, as appropriate.

Q. What is the ‘One-Stop-Shop’ announced by government in July 2018 to boost jobs and training along the Inland Rail route?

A. The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities (DIRDC) is in the process of engaging a Facilitator as part of the Commonwealth’s support to a collaborative approach for the Parkes to Narromine (P2N) project. The Facilitator’s role is to maximise local employment and economic development opportunities, and support linkages to other Commonwealth programmes and initiatives.

DIRDC has also tasked the Regional Australia Institute with developing an ‘Are you Ready for Inland Rail’ strategic planning tool to support Inland Rail and help those regions along the Inland Rail route to capitalise on the benefits the program will bring. The ‘Are you Ready for Inland Rail’ planning tool will be available from September 2018.


Q. How long is the Inland Rail network and where does the route go?

A: Inland Rail is approximately 1,700km in length and will link Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The route uses the existing interstate line from Melbourne to Illabo in NSW, which will be enhanced to accommodate double stacked freight trains. A combination of new and upgraded tracks will then be used via Parkes, Moree, Toowoomba and Calvert to reach the existing interstate line at Kagaru, south of Brisbane.

Q. Will Inland Rail use existing rail infrastructure?

A: Yes, 1,100km of existing rail infrastructure (rail lines and corridors) will be used as part of the total 1,700km rail line. This will make best possible use of earlier investments in the national rail freight network and minimise the environmental and community impacts associated with creating new rail corridors. Approximately 600km of new corridors need to be defined and built.

These figures may adjust as the 13 projects progress through individual approval processes.

Q. Could existing road and rail infrastructure be upgraded, rather than develop Inland Rail?

A: No, existing infrastructure will not cope with future demands:

  • Existing infrastructure between Melbourne and Brisbane has insufficient capacity to meet future freight demand. 
  • Current north–south freight infrastructure (road and rail) is already constrained and this will increasingly have an adverse impact on freight productivity. 
  • Continued reliance on road for freight transport will result in increasing negative safety, environmental and community impacts. 
  • Existing north–south freight infrastructure is impacting accessibility to supply chain networks for regional producers and industries and inhibits the productivity and economic growth potential of regional communities. 
  • Lack of resilience on existing north–south freight infrastructure exposes supply chains to disruptions and low levels of reliability.

Only Inland Rail will comprehensively address this longstanding national infrastructure challenge.

Q. What is the process for securing planning and environment approvals on the new rail sections?

A: There is no uniform national law or process for securing planning and environment approvals for the 600km of new corridor that needs to be built.

Each state has its own environment and planning laws, and there are Australian Government approval requirements which overlay state laws. The planning and environment approvals and corridor protection strategy for Inland Rail is being developed in close consultation between the Australian and State Governments. 


Q. How much money has the Australian Government invested to deliver Inland Rail?

A: The Australian Government has committed $9.3 billion for ARTC to develop and build Inland Rail. Additional funds will come from a partnership with the private sector.

Q. How much will Inland Rail cost?

A: The total construction cost for Inland Rail is estimated at $10.9 billion.


Q. Inland Rail is a national program so what involvement do the State governments have in the infrastructure project?

A: ARTC and the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities have been working closely with State Governments, principally through their transport agencies, to progress Inland Rail. Over coming months, the Australian Government will be working with each of the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland Governments to enter into Inter-Government Agreements to progress Inland Rail.

State governments will have a critical role to play in planning and environmental assessments as well as securing corridors, particularly in the greenfield sections of Inland Rail where the track will be built along a new route.

Q. What governments are involved in delivering Inland Rail?

A: All three levels of government play a role in the delivery of Inland Rail – Commonwealth, State and Local.

  • Australian Government: Inland Rail is an Australian Government-funded project which forms part of the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities portfolio. ARTC has been appointed to deliver Inland Rail in partnership with the private sector.
  • State Governments: The Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland Governments are involved in the planning, environmental assessments and project approvals for Inland Rail.
  • Local Councils: More than 50 local Councils are involved with community planning and engagement activities along the 1,700km rail line.

Q. Is ARTC a government organisation?

A: ARTC is a Commonwealth Company under the ‘Corporations Act 2001’.

ARTC was created in 1997 after the Commonwealth and State Governments agreed to form a ‘one-stop shop' for all train operators wanting access to the standardised national interstate rail network.

The Business Case

Q. Why did Inland Rail need a Business Case?

A: Inland Rail is an Australian Government project, it crosses three states and impacts more than 50 local councils. The Business Case was developed to meet the requirements of relevant government frameworks and to align with Infrastructure Australia’s Reform and Investment Framework Guidelines.

View the Business Case

View the The Case for Inland Rail

Q. Who prepared the Business Case?

A:The Business Case was prepared by PwC with support from ACIL Allen Consulting. It was assessed by Infrastructure Australia which resulted in Infrastructure Australia including Inland Rail on the Australian Infrastructure Priority List.

Q. What’s included in the Business Case?

A: The Business Case is the most detailed assessment to date of why Inland Rail is needed and how it can be delivered. Specifically, it:

  • Identifies the problem and vision for the east coast corridor
  • Confirms the scope, opportunities and costs
  • Provides a 10-year delivery schedule
  • Presents demand estimates
  • Analyses economic and financial implications
  • Identifies governance arrangements to support the effective delivery of Inland Rail.

Q. Why does Australia need Inland Rail?

A: Inland Rail will comprehensively address a longstanding national infrastructure priority. By 2030, Australia's domestic freight volume is projected to grow by 80%. Existing road and rail networks will simply not cope with this increase in freight, and short-term solutions will represent a brake on national productivity and competitiveness.

An inland rail connection between Melbourne and Brisbane will provide a high capacity rail transport solution to moving freight along Australia’s eastern seaboard, reducing road freight congestion. Inland Rail will provide significant opportunities for manufacturers and other exporters, making it faster, cheaper and more reliable to move goods around the country and the world. It will also transform the supply chain for agricultural and other regional industries in Victoria, New South Wales and southern Queensland, who in many instances have limited transport options.

Q. What does Inland Rail mean for the Australian economy and businesses?

A: Inland Rail will provide an immediate and ongoing investment in the futures of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. This includes job creation, sustainable investment into the economy, and stimulation of the agriculture, manufacturing and exporting industries, while reducing supply chain costs for a wide range of industries.

View Benefits


Q. How will Inland Rail be linked with the Port of Brisbane?

A: Inland Rail will be linked to the Port of Brisbane from the day it opens, via the existing rail line to the port. Trains currently run through to the port and will continue to do so when Inland Rail opens.

Q. What trains will be running to the Port of Brisbane?

A: Inland Rail trains running to the port will be from regional centres or nearby intermodal terminals, rather than through services from Melbourne. They will not be double stacked.

Q. Does the existing line to the Port of Brisbane have capacity to meet the needs once Inland Rail is developed?

A:There’s capacity now on the line to the port, but further work is important so that there is a link that meets freight capacity needs beyond 2040. That means identifying and preserving a corridor and working closely with the Queensland Government to make sure that freight and passenger requirements are protected and met.

This is being actioned by the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities together with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Public Private Partnership (PPP)

Q. Why a PPP in Queensland?

A. The 126km section from Toowoomba to Kagaru, including large scale tunnelling, will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership. Under this delivery arrangement, the private sector will design, build, finance and maintain this section of the railway over a long-term concession period.

These funding arrangements will provide effective risk management and harness innovative design solutions for this nationally significant project, which is the biggest Commonwealth rail construction project since the transcontinental rail link across the Nullabor was finished 100 years ago.

Q. What is the current status of the PPP?

A. The current program timelines for the PPP indicate Registrations of Interest (ROI) to be sought from early October 2018 with a PPP EOI release date of Q1 2019.