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PROGRESS on the Inland Rail project continues, with the second section of the 1700-kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane freight line between Narrabri and North Star now under construction.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for transport Michael McCormack and local member Mark Coulton were on site in Moree, New South Wales to turn the first sod of soil on the 171-kilometres of track upgrades.

This stage of the Inland Rail project will support more than 500 direct jobs from the contractor, with many others to follow for sub-contractors and businesses in the regions.

“It seems like just yesterday I turned the first sod on Inland Rail in Parkes and today we celebrate another momentous occasion with the commencement of the second section between Narrabri to North Star, an equally significant event,” Mr McCormack said.

“This year we completed the first section of Inland Rail between Parkes and Narromine, which has enhanced the connectivity of the national network, joining the east-west Perth line to the north and south spine.

“Today’s event in Moree marks real progress on the Inland Rail project which has been talked about since Federation.”

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Mr McCormack said regional Australians were benefiting now, when they need it most.

“The $693.8m construction effort on Narrabri and North Star brings immediate stimulus to the regional communities of Narrabri, Bellata, Moree, Croppa Creek and North Star and those townships in between,” Mr McCormack said.

“In real terms, it means more money spent locally, more money spent with local, regional and Australian businesses at the same time as building an asset that will benefit our nation for generations.

“As we build Inland Rail, we lay the track for supply chain efficiencies that will boost the national economy.”

Minister Coulton said, “Inland Rail is one of the main reasons I got into politics, so today’s sod turn is a very proud moment for me, and a key achievement for the Australian government.

“It’s a project that will open up eastern Australia for business and allow farmers to get their products to domestic and international markets, which is welcome news for the councils in North West NSW that represent a region rich in agriculture.

“Inland Rail is necessary to meet Australia’s growing freight transport task for the next 50 years, and all levels of government are working together to leverage the long-term benefits of Inland Rail to attract new businesses to regional Australia.”

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