The 1,700km Inland Rail route links Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
The route comprises:
- An enhancement of the existing interstate line from Melbourne, Victoria to Illabo, New South Wales to accommodate the double-stacked trains that will be using the line
- A combination of new and upgraded tracks to accommodate double-stacked trains from Illabo via Parkes, Moree, Toowoomba and Calvert, to reach the existing interstate line at Kagaru, and then to Acacia Ridge and Bromelton, south of Brisbane, Queensland.
A study identifies an option for a future Melbourne-Brisbane railway
A second study identifies a preferred route via Albury, Parkes, Moree and Toowoomba
A third study recommends Inland Rail proceed and confirm the preferred route
Route options are assessed against the Inland Rail Service Offering
Selecting the route
Three major studies were carried out to select the route for Inland Rail.
North-South Rail Corridor Study
Completed in 2006, this study considered four potential corridors for Inland Rail to determine which would deliver the best economic and financial outcome. This study identified the ‘far western corridor’ through Parkes as the superior option.
Inland Rail Alignment Study
This 2010 study looked at the far western corridor in detail and considered an exhaustive range of alternatives to develop the best route for Inland Rail. As a result of industry input, the study found that in order to attract more freight onto rail it required an alignment that delivered a journey time of less than 24 hours between Melbourne and Brisbane, which is a saving of 10 hours on the existing coastal route via Sydney.
As approximately 65% of the Inland Rail alignment uses existing rail corridors, the study also found that the current alignment makes the best possible use of earlier investments in national and state rail corridors and freight networks and minimises the environmental and community impacts associated with creating new rail corridors.
Inland Rail Implementation Group Report
The second study was endorsed in 2015 by the Inland Rail Implementation Group (IRIG) as the basis for further work on the Inland Rail program.
Today: Finalising the rail corridor
The route is clear where Inland Rail is using existing rail track. The task since 2015 has been to optimise and finalise the rail corridor for the 600km of new rail line from Illabo to Stockinbingal, Narromine to Narrabri, North Star to the New South Wales/Queensland border and throughout most of the Queensland section to Kagaru.
This work is nearing completion and finalising it will require more field studies, detailed environmental investigations and further consultation with landowners and communities.
Route history of Inland Rail 2006-2020
The Inland Rail Route History 2006-2020 document summarises key decisions that have informed the current route for Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and southeast Queensland. This document is intended to provide the reader with an understanding of these decisions and the reasoning behind them.
Early 20th Century
Inland Rail, in one form or another and along one route or another, has been discussed for more than 100 years.
Proposals for a Melbourne-Queensland-Darwin railway were first mooted soon after Federation (the map dates from 1909) In 1915, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher proposed a railway from the Riverina to Queensland.
1990s – 2000s
Building on some of the work undertaken in the 1980s, various papers proposing an inland railway emerged during the 1990s. By the early 2000s, there were at least two significant private sector proposals for an inland railway.
The North-South Rail Corridor Study identifies a broad corridor for a future Melbourne-Brisbane railway.
An Inland Rail Alignment Study (IRAS) identifies a preferred route via Albury, Parkes, Moree and Toowoomba.
2011 – 2013
The Australian Government announces $300 million for ARTC to develop Inland Rail and commence planning.
The Inland Rail Implementation Group is established, chaired by Hon John Anderson AO.
Inland Rail works with representatives from transport and logistics industries to develop the Inland Rail Service Offering, which specifies the key benefits to the market: a freight transit time of less than 24 hours, 98% reliability, competitive pricing for freight customers, and service availability.
The Inland Rail Business Case is prepared and submitted to Infrastructure Australia. The Implementation Group recommends Inland Rail should proceed, following the route determined by the 2010 IRAS, with minor changes.
The Australian Government commits a further $594 million for development and land acquisition activities. Infrastructure Australia identifies Inland Rail as a priority project, endorsing its potential to generate net economic benefits for the nation.
2017 – 2018
The Australian Government announces a $8.4 billion equity commitment for ARTC to deliver Inland Rail, in combination with a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the Gowrie to Kagaru section in Queensland.
A historic milestone is achieved on 13 December 2018 when the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Michael McCormack MP, turns the ceremonial first sod on the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail, marking beginning of construction.
Works continue to finalise the route, including technical investigations, consultations with property owners and stakeholders, community information sessions, and undergoing planning and environmental approvals.
Construction of the Parkes to Narromine section finishes and the first train runs in September.
February 26, 2021
ARTC awards $30 million contract for signalling design for Inland Rail project
ARTC has awarded a contract worth more than $30 million for signalling and signalling civil design for significant sections of the Inland Rail project.
November 27, 2020
Inland Rail breaks ground on Narrabri to North Star
Progress on the Australian Government Inland Rail project continues, with the second section of the 1,700 kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane freight line between Narrabri and North Star (N2NS) now under construction.
November 10, 2020
Inland Rail Public Private Partnership one step closer
Three world-class consortia have been invited by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to submit proposals for the section of Inland Rail from Gowrie outside Toowoomba to Kagaru near Beaudesert in Queensland, to be delivered as a Public Private Partnership (PPP).