Q. Why does Australia need Inland Rail?

    A: Inland Rail will offer a solution to an increasing challenge for our growing population.

    The challenge:

    ·By 2040, Australia's domestic freight volume is expected to double as the need to rapidly move goods around the country intensifies. Our existing road and rail networks, already under strain, will simply not cope with this demand. 

    ·The existing north–south freight corridor, which includes track that is largely shared with passenger rail along the east coast, is vulnerable to congestion and sudden disruptions, like extreme weather events. With no alternative route, this is an unreliable service for regional producers and industries and stymies potential economic growth. 

    ·Our continued reliance on road for freight transport presents serious road safety issues and environmental concerns. With more and more trucks competing for road space with private vehicles, we will see increased congestion in our regional communities and cities; which means higher road maintenance costs, more fuel emissions, and increasing road casualties due to dangerous conditions. 

    The solution:

    ·Inland Rail will share the growing freight load, reducing our reliance on roads for transporting freight. It will better link producers, farmers and businesses to national and global markets, making it faster, cheaper and more reliable to move goods around the country and the world. 

    ·Inland Rail will make Australia’s national freight rail network less vulnerable to disruptions, offering a transit time of less than 24 hours with 98% reliability. 

    ·Inland Rail will reduce truck volumes in more than 20 of our regional towns and ease congestion on some of Australia’s busiest highways. Up to 15 serious crashes, including fatalities and serious injuries, could be avoided every year.

    Q. What is the current status of Inland Rail?

    A: Inland Rail is a large and complex project that is divided into 13 smaller projects, each with their own timeline. Some areas are already under construction while others are still in the design and community consultation phase. 

    View the current status of our projects

    View individual projects:

    Q. Why is a Public Private Partnership in place in Queensland?

    A: The 126 kilometre section from Gowrie to Kagaru is our most technically complex. It includes the construction of a six kilometre tunnel through the Toowoomba Range as well as numerous level crossings, viaducts, river bridges and crossing loops. Because of its complexity, this project will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership (PPP). Under this delivery arrangement, the private sector will design, build, finance and maintain this section of the railway this section of the railway over a long-term period, as determined by the government.

    Using a PPP for this section will allow Inland Rail to benefit from private sector innovation for these technical elements.

    Q. Who will use and benefit from Inland Rail?

    A: The major users of Inland Rail will be producers across a range of sectors, transporting mostly domestic goods to our cities. These include non-bulk containerised freight such as manufactured goods, food, hardware and other packaged goods, and bulk goods like steel, paper and 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. 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. 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, and then on to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton, south of Brisbane.

    View route maps

    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. About 600km* of new corridors will provide the missing link in the Inland Rail network.

    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 for Inland Rail is being developed in close consultation between the Australian and State Governments.

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

    A: Inland Rail will link to the port via an existing dual gauge rail connection between Acacia Ridge and the Port of Brisbane. 

    Q. What kind of trains will run to the Port of Brisbane?

    A: Trains bound for the Port of Brisbane will run from regional centres or nearby intermodal terminals, rather than through services from Melbourne. They will not be double stacked.

    Q. Will the existing line to the Port of Brisbane meet the needs of Inland Rail?

    A: There’s capacity now on the line to the port, but further work is needed to meet 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, Transport, Regional Development and Communications together with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.


    Q. Who is managing the Inland Rail project?

    A: The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has been appointed by the Australian Government to deliver Inland Rail. 

    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.

    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, Transport, Regional Development and Communications have been working closely with State Governments, principally through their transport agencies, to progress Inland Rail. The Australian Government has entered into bilateral agreements with the New South Wales, Victorian and Queensland Governments, confirming a commitment to progressing 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, Transport, Regional Development and Communications 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.

Building Inland Rail

    Q. When did planning start for Inland Rail?

    A: Inland Rail has been developed through progressive studies since 2006. The studies examined the viability, costs and associated risks of Inland Rail to inform the Australian Government’s decision making process. In 2015, a ten-year delivery plan for Inland Rail was implemented and early construction works commenced in 2017. 

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

    A: Inland Rail developed a 10-year delivery schedule in 2015. Consultation along the route is taking place progressively, and timing is dependent on the stage of an alignment decision and relevant government planning approvals. 

    With construction underway, we are currently ‘on track’ to meet our goals of running a fully operational track by 2025.

    Q. How much will Inland Rail cost to build?

    A: The total construction cost for Inland Rail is estimated at $10.9 billion. 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: 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 will be built along sections of the track, allowing trains to pass one another.

    Q. What about intermodal terminals in Melbourne, Brisbane and regional centres?

    A: Intermodal terminals facilitate the consolidation, storage and transfer of freight between rail and road at the beginning and end of each rail journey.

    Although Inland Rail will certainly spark complementary investments, intermodal terminals are not part of ARTC’s scope to deliver Inland Rail. 

    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 that have shown interest include 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 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.

The Inland Rail Business Case

    Q. Why did Inland Rail need a Business Case?

    A: 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. 

    Q. Who prepared the Business Case?

    A: The Business Case was prepared by PwC Australia 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 Project List

    Q. What’s included in the Business Case?

    A: The Business Case is a detailed assessment 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.

    View the Inland Rail Business Case (PDF, 11.4MB)

    View a Summary of the Inland Rail Business Case (PDF, 9.9MB)