Work on the largest ever freight rail infrastructure project is underway with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and ICN working together to ensure local suppliers can take advantage of opportunities.
With ARTC’s recent announcements of the preferred proponents for the Civil Works Programs from New South Wales through to Queensland, there has never been a better time for suppliers to get Inland Rail ready.
Inland Rail will travel through three states, linking Melbourne with Brisbane, transforming freight travel and delivering economic benefits to regional communities.
In total, there are 13 individual Inland Rail projects, one in Victoria, seven in NSW, and five in Queensland, spanning more than 1,700 kilometres. Some projects will involve enhancing and upgrading current rail lines, others will mean building new lines.
Work on the Parkes to Narromine stage is complete, with 99 local businesses – including nine Indigenous companies, supplying to the project. This equates to $109.7 million spent with local suppliers, and $14.1 million with Indigenous businesses.
Phase 1 of the Narrabri to North Star stage is now being built, with 107 local businesses – nine indigenous – supplying to the project so far.
Two other stages, Gowrie to Kagaru in Queensland, and Tottenham to Albury in Victoria are currently calling for expressions of interest on Gateway for local suppliers. Further stages are expected to start in late 2022-early 2023.
Inland Rail Supply Chain Manager, Jason Manttan, said Inland Rail had been working closely with ICN state offices in Victoria, NSW, and Queensland to communicate with local industry through ICN Gateway, as well as at briefings and events.
In Victoria and NSW, Inland Rail engaged ICN to map and analyse supply chains for the project.
“We have a list of indicative good and services required to deliver a section of work that is provided to the relevant ICN office. They undertake back-end business matching through ICN Gateway and come up with a list of suppliers categorised according to location for each of those work packages,” he said.
“For example, with the Tottenham to Albury stage in Victoria, we said, ‘these are the 70 likely good and services required, you tell us all the businesses that have the capability and capacity within the local area, within the greater region, within the rest of the state’.
“They undertake that research for a few months and come back to us with a report which we then provide to our contractor and can use internally for further supplier capability development.”
This information can also be used to hold the contractor to account when engaging locally.
Jason recommends that small regionally based Tier 3 or 4 small operators be registered on Gateway to find out who might have won larger projects and offer services to them.
Inland Rail is expected to generate $18 billion in economic benefits and over 21,500 direct and indirect jobs.
The project is expected to last until 2027, with work packages progressively rolling out over that time.
Infrastructure Australia has identified Inland Rail as a ‘priority project’, confirming its positive economic and financial benefits to regional communities, industry, and the national economy.