With the benefit of my 40 years’ experience of investment and innovation in the freight rail industry, my position is thatÂ the Melbourneâ€”Brisbane Inland Rail Project is a unique opportunity to get the right infrastructure in place to generate regional growth and wealth forÂ Australia.Â
This is not just about updating the present railway system based on what weâ€™re doing today; it is a nation-building project that requires long term visionÂ for what we want to be doing tomorrow.Â
Our objective here should be to increase productivity, lower the cost of doing business and give future generations the ability to compete by exportingÂ into an increasingly competitive world. Â We need to let that guide our decision making rather than assessing route alignment solely on least cost orÂ narrow engineering criteria that are really only about making our system â€˜fit for todayâ€™.Â
If we get that vision right, then we will be able to open up new opportunities and keep growing the economic pie. Â If we donâ€™t, then weâ€™ve missed theÂ point in doing such a project and future generations will judge it a costly failure.
On a specific level, I have been asked whetherÂ a solution for Inland Rail to head north from Mangalore to Shepparton and through Narrandera to Parkes would offer complementary benefits toÂ the extension of the existing Albury to Wagga alignment with a missing link to Parkes. Â I believe the Narrandera alignment would bring two benefits:
- It would beÂ shorter for through traffic between Melbourne and Brisbane on a new track with lower life cycle operating costs and improved productivityÂ performance.
- It wouldÂ open a new agricultural supply link to the Murray Goulburn agriculture region north of Shepparton and on to Narrandera, which is not serviced byÂ the Albury Wagga route.
Consistent with my position expressed above, I believe thatÂ all options for Inland Rail need to be fully considered to deliver the best solution not just for today but for future generations.