Inland Rail has been granted approval by the federal government to construct its 306-kilometre rail line as part of its national construction programme.

The approval was announced by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water on Monday.

Narromine to Narrabri is Inland Rail’s longest section of new track.

Construction will involve millions of cubic meters of earthworks for new embankments, the installation of thousands of concrete culvert drains, road realignments and utility relocations.

The current design features 49 new public level crossings, 75 new bridges and viaducts and seven crossing loops, each up to 2.2km long.

Conditions will be imposed on the project, relating to disturbance limits and the protection of flora and fauna.

In a statement released following the decision, Inland Rail said the project’s approval is a “key step in the staged approach agreed to by the Australian government in its response to the recommendations made by Dr Kerry Schott for getting the delivery of Inland Rail back on track”.

“When constructed, the Narromine to Narrabri project will link the completed Parkes to Narromine and Narrabri to North Star Phase 1 projects, providing new freight capacity and improved connectivity to ports on the east coast and westwards via Parkes to Adelaide and Perth,” the statement read.

“Moving forward, the Narromine to Narrabri project team will continue to engage with NSW and local government and the community as we undertake necessary activities to further inform the design of the Narromine to Narrabri project.

“These activities include surveys and on-site investigations to help provide more certainty that Inland Rail can be built to an agreed budget and schedule.

“Inland Rail is committed to ensuring that the final design of the project addresses and appropriately mitigates potential impacts to environment and social amenity in accordance with the approvals of the Federal and NSW governments.”

Rob Storey, Inland Rail director pre-contracts, said the Narromine to Narrabri project is Inland Rail’s longest stretch of new rail and is a key link in the future Inland Rail supply chain and less than 24-hour freight transit time for goods between Melbourne and Brisbane.

“Now that we have a full suite of approval conditions, the survey and investigation activities are critical inputs to the next stage of design and securing the land needed for the Narromine to Narrabri project corridor,” he said.

“Inland Rail acknowledges the important input from the community, local landowners and businesses during the approvals process and remains committed to working with stakeholders.

“Inland Rail will support the shift of more goods onto rail, meaning faster, more reliable freight; safer, less congested roads; and fewer emissions.”

Following the announcement, a departmental spokesperson said after careful and detailed consideration, the department has approved Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited’s Inland Rail – Narromine to Narrabri section project.

“This decision builds on the NSW approval decision and imposes strict conditions that avoid, mitigate and offset environmental impacts on native plants and animals,” the spokesperson said.

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