Inland Rail Chief Executive Officer Richard Wankmuller said private sector involvement in the design, construction, finance and maintenance of the PPP section of the Inland Rail programme is “critical”.
“Queensland will be the biggest beneficiary of Inland Rail with the benefit to the Gross State Product modelled at $7.3 billion during construction and the first 50 years of operation,” he said.
“There will be in the order of 7000 jobs in Queensland during the peak construction period and job creation has already begun to flow to the state with around 190 staff working for Inland Rail in Brisbane including 40 on the PPP component.
“The PPP enables ARTC to access major Australian and multi-national builders and engineers to harness innovative design solutions and more efficient construction methodologies. This is a program of national significance and ARTC is seeking a partner to deliver the most technically-challenging section comprising approximately 130km of dual gauge rail, significant earthworks and complicated tunnels and bridges through the Toowoomba, Little Liverpool and Teviot ranges.”
Mr. Wankmuller said the ROI process allows ARTC to confirm likely bidding for the PPP, while also showing the market progress is being made on the procurement process ahead of the formal Expressions of Interest process in early 2019.
“The ROI also forms a precursor to a planned market sounding process in the fourth quarter of this year. Outcomes of the market sounding process will help to shape our procurement approach, and it’s a good opportunity for potential bidders to provide feedback about the project,” Mr. Wankmuller said.
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomed the announcement of the ROI for the PPP.
“[The] announcement that the Government is seeking private sector interest and involvement in the PPP for the Gowrie to Kagaru section of the project represents a significant milestone in the planning and construction of this national freight rail project,” Danny Broad, ARA CEO, said.
“This market sounding process is an important signal to the private sector that the Australian Rail Track Corporation is committed to partnering with organisations who can provide innovative solutions to design, build, finance and maintain the PPP section of the project.
Mr. Broad said the construction of the Queensland section of Inland Rail is technically complex with significant tunnelling required through the Toowoomba Ranges.
“It is critical therefore that the private sector is closely involved in this process from the outset to provide new thinking on tackling the project’s inherent challenges to ensure we get the best outcomes from a freight efficiency perspective,” he said.
“Much hinges on the ability of the double stacked freight trains to move efficiently through the Queensland leg of the line, underscoring the importance of the PPP process to the overall project.
“The ARA also recognises the importance of ensuring there are appropriate freight rail linkages direct to the Port of Brisbane and encourages further work in this area to maximise the effectiveness of the Inland Rail project,” he said.
Mr. Broad added that the job opportunities the Inland Rail project would create are significant and are welcomed by the Australian rail industry.
“There will be significant job growth in Queensland during the peak construction period, as well as a multi-billion-dollar boost to the State’s economy during construction and operation,” he said.
“These job-creation opportunities are welcome, but they also underscore the need for a national approach to ensuring Australia has an appropriate skill base to deliver on this project, along with the many other urban rail projects currently underway in Australia.”