The Narrabri to North Star section of the mammoth Inland Rail project marked its official start on Friday with the turning of the first sod of soil on 171-kilometres of track upgrades.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton turned the first sod in Moree, marking a historic milestone for the 1700-kilometre Melbourne to Brisbane rail freight line.

Watching on with excited interest was a cohort of Narrabri Shire Council representatives including general manager Stewart Todd, mayor Ron Campbell, deputy mayor Cameron Staines and economic development manager Bill Birch.

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

The Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail is expected to deliver millions in economic stimulus to north western NSW.

Cr Campbell was excited to witness the milestone on Friday morning.

“It has been a huge week in the Narrabri Shire with the announcement of the Special Activation Precinct by the Deputy Premier, to breaking ground on the Inland

Rail Narrabri to North Star project with the Deputy Prime Minister,” he said.

“Narrabri Shire is strategically positioned to capitalise on the Inland Rail infrastructure.

“Combine the Inland Rail with the council-driven Northern NSW Inland Port and we are dealing with a manufacturing and value adding powerhouse that will open the doorway for business opportunities and solidify growth of our shire for generations to come.”

Mr McCormack said Friday’s event marked real progress on the Inland Rail project which has been talked about since Federation.

“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.

“The $693.8 million 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.”

Mr Coulton, said the milestone in Moree at the heart of the Narrabri to North Star section showed Inland Rail was on track for all the right reasons.

“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,” he said.

“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.

“From the special activation precinct in Moree to Narrabri’s Inland Port, private businesses and industry are setting up shop because they can see the long-term growth Inland Rail is bringing to these regional communities.”

To order photos from this page click here