We would like to reply to the one-page advertisement by ARTC/Inland Rail in the Thursday, April 7 edition of The Courier and to statements made on the “Inland Rail Route History updated 25th March 2022” website.

We believe the advertisement and website contain many statements which are incorrect.

In relation to the timeline:

The “proposed route” near Narrabri first became public in November 2017.

Within four months, in March 2018, a full page of The Courier showed the “Narrabri alternative route”.

Following the release of the Narrabri alternative route in March 2018, Tim Logan, Jim Purcell and others presented the alternative route at many community consultation meetings.

They met with a number of engineers and explained the shortcomings of the proposed route and the advantages of the alternative.

In January 2021, Narrabri Shire Council resolved to make a submission to the EIS process based on a comprehensive staff report to council.

This report clearly stated that the proposed route did not give the optimum outcome for Narrabri. The report also emphasized some of the advantages of adopting the Narrabri alternative.

Many other submissions were made in the EIS process which detailed the advantages of the alternative route over the proposed route.

In July 2021 a long letter in The Courier asked significant questions of both council’s Mayor Ron Campbell and federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton.

These questions again pointed out the problems with the proposed route and the superiority of the alternative route.

On August 12, 2021, a Zoom meeting was held with Rebecca Pickering, Inland Rail interim CEO, and others from Inland Rail with some of the concerned locals.

Despite all these meetings, letters, emails and other contacts that were made, the Inland Rail route history on the website, updated March 25, 2022, says that locals only raised the alternative route late in 2021. That is untrue.

It was late in 2021 when a flyer was delivered to households and businesses in the Narrabri area and when many media interviews were undertaken.

The only reason that this activity was necessary was that Inland Rail continued, and continues, to ignore the reality that the Narrabri alternative route is better than the Inland Rail proposed route.

Inland Rail should represent the facts regarding the timeline of the campaign efforts to have the route changed rather than make incorrect statements.

Why is the alternative route better than the proposed route?

There are many reasons.

The comparisons (pictured above) give some idea of why.

Inland Rail claims that the alternative route follows Route 502 which they have assessed.

This is incorrect.

The Narrabri alternative route has not been assessed by Inland Rail.

We believe that an independent assessment (not done by Inland Rail) of the Narrabri alternative route against the Inland Rail proposed route is required as soon as possible.

Inland Rail’s assertion in The Courier newspaper advertisement that “the final (Inland Rail) alignment is selected as it reduces property impacts, takes the shortest route through the 1 in 100-year flood zone, enables current and future infrastructure connectivity and reduces cost and distance” cannot be justified by the facts.

Jim Purcell, Registered professional civil engineer, Narrabri Inland Rail Concerned Residents Group

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