ARTC takes first step towards Inland Rail construction in Queensland

Image credit: ARTC.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has taken another step towards construction of Inland Rail in Queensland following an agreement with a locally owned and operated joint venture for civil works within the Border to Gowrie section.

BHQ Joint Venture (BHQ JV), comprising Brisbane-based Bielby Holdings, JF Hull and H&M Birt, has been appointed as the preferred Civil Works Program proponent for the first section of Inland Rail in Queensland.

This section, which will be the first shovel-in-ground Inland Rail project in Queensland, comprises approximately 162 kilometres of dual-gauge track and the upgrade of approximately 24.5 kilometres of existing track within the Border to Gowrie section of Inland Rail.

The program includes more than 900 concrete culverts and at least 30 bridges spanning a total of more than 11 kilometres in the 162-kilometre section connecting Whetstone north-east of Goondiwindi with Gowrie on the western edge of Toowoomba. An estimated 950 workers will be needed at the peak of construction for the section.

ARTC Inland Rail Interim Chief Executive Rebecca Pickering said the announcement was the culmination of months of work by ARTC, and would ultimately support hundreds of jobs in Queensland.

“Inland Rail is a fast freight backbone that will transform how goods are moved around Australia – it’s also a catalyst for regional employment and economic opportunity,” Mrs Pickering said.

“Queensland stands to benefit significantly from Inland Rail, with approximately two-thirds of the total project expenditure allocated for Queensland, and more than 11,800 jobs expected at the peak of construction in 2023-24.

“We’ve already committed contracts to over 630 businesses in Queensland worth over $1.5 billion, and this agreement will bring even more stimulus to the state as it recovers from the economic impacts of the pandemic,” she said.

Mrs Pickering said the appointment of a civil works proponent in parallel with environmental planning approvals would allow local businesses to hit the ground running when formal approval is given.

“Major construction will not start until statutory approvals have been received from the Queensland and Australian governments, but with the appointment of a preferred proponent now tells local businesses to get ‘Inland Rail ready’ and start talking with BHQ JV about what the future looks like,” she said.

BHQ will initially be working with ARTC to review reference design and develop construction plans and methodologies ahead of the development of a fully costed proposal for the first of the works packages next year.

“BHQ JV will now be seeking partnerships with businesses and skilled operators that can support project delivery such as transport operators, fencing, quarries, earthworks and electrical companies,” Mrs Pickering said.

Bielby Holdings Managing Director and BHQ JV spokesman Adam Edwards said the agreement allowed the joint venture to start engaging with a range of local businesses.

“Bielby, JF Hull and QH&M Birt are honoured to be selected by ARTC as their design and construction partner for the Northern Civil Works Program as part of the broader Inland Rail project,” Mr Edwards said.

“As three proudly Queensland owned businesses, we have a 40-year history of working together on a collaborative basis to deliver exceptional outcomes for both our clients and the communities in which we operate.

BHQ JV is also looking to build skills for future generations of Queensland workers on this once-in-a-generation project.

“We will work with ARTC to enhance the skills and capabilities in the region through both the Inland Rail Skills Academy and BHQ’s own work ready program targeted at school leavers and other new entrants to the construction industry,” Mr Edwards said.

For information on Inland Rail tenders and market opportunities visit the Suppliers webpage or to register your interest on the ICN Gateway.

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