RICHARD Wankmuller is retiring mid-2021 as CEO of Inland Rail at the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

Deputy Prime Minister and infrastructure, transport and regional development minister Michael McCormack thanked Mr Wankmuller for his contribution to the delivery of Inland Rail.

“I want to thank Richard Wankmuller for his leadership of the Inland Rail program and recognise the valued contribution he has made to this nationally significant infrastructure project,” he said.

“Under his stewardship the project has moved from early design through to construction, delivering significant local benefits in regional Australia at a time when we need it most.

“Richard leaves Inland Rail in a strong position – having delivered the first 103-kilometre section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine in New South Wales and beginning construction on the second stretch linking Narrabri to North Star in November last year.

“The leadership team established by Richard has shown a strong commitment to working with communities, a legacy that will continue as ARTC delivers this essential freight backbone for Australia.”

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham acknowledged Mr Wankmuller’s leadership over the past three years to advance Inland Rail and transform the way freight is moved in Australia.

“Mr Wankmuller has been a driving force behind the advancement of this huge job creating project that is set to be a game-changer in the fast, reliable and cost-competitive movement of goods and resources in Australia,” Mr Birmingham said.

“This world-class infrastructure project, which will support more than 21,500 jobs during the construction phase, will better connect regional areas along the network with customers across Australia and the world. Mr Wankmuller has ensured we are in a strong position to deliver this and I thank him for his leadership and public service over the past three years.”

ARTC Chair Warren Truss said the Board was sorry to lose Mr Wankmuller.

“Richard’s leadership has been critical in progressing this nationally significant project to this point and ARTC is grateful that he has chosen to stay until mid this year to ensure a smooth transition to his successor,” Mr Truss said.

“The planning approvals for Inland Rail are well advanced, our delivery strategy is well accepted in the marketplace and important program milestones have been achieved including the completion of the first major stage of construction.

“Additionally, the leadership team that Richard has established at Inland Rail will ensure that no momentum is lost as this important, national infrastructure project progresses.”

The ARTC board has begun the process to replace Mr Wankmuller, engaging executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist in the global search for the next head of the Inland Rail Program.