THE federal government has released details of its plan to support regional communities and industry to better connect to Inland Rail and the benefits that flow from fast, reliable and cost-competitive freight rail.

This involves the rollout of a new program and enhancement of government network offices in the bush.

Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack, said the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program (II Program) would create productive rail-based supply chains at regional centres and build capacity on key country rail lines.

“Each year billions of tonnes of goods are transported thousands of kilometres across Australia and that comes at a cost to everyone. It’s vitally important we invest in infrastructure, such as Inland Rail, to reduce costs and meet the growing freight task,” Mr McCormack said.

“To support new connections, we’ve allocated $24m to assess the costs and benefits of proposed improvements to country lines that intersect with Inland Rail and a further $20m for business cases looking at ways to enhance supply chain productivity.”

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Over the coming months, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development is to engage stakeholders to canvass ideas and identify industry preferences for projects funded for consideration.

Regional services minister Mark Coulton said the ongoing engagement with regional communities and industry would be a vital input to the program and welcomed the Department’s expanding regional presence, with offices now in Dubbo, Toowoomba, Wodonga and shortly Moree.

“These local connections are especially important as we deliver the $44m Interface Improvement Program over the next two years,” Mr Coulton said.

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