4600 jobs in $5.5b blowout’s silver lining
The cost of the 1700km Inland Rail has blown out by $5.5 billion, but "project enhancements" are set to create more than 4600 jobs in Queensland.
The blowout occurred because the Federal Government was forced to make significant changes to improve safety and overcome community objections.
The Government says the total cost will climb to $14.5 billion, but project enhancements will further stimulate regional communities, creating 5800 more jobs and billions of dollars of extra economic activity.
Queensland is expected to be the big winner from the new jobs, with an additional 4600 workers needed to implement the design changes across the five sections running through the state.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack will today announce the extra $5.5 billion injection of project equity into the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Mr McCormack said enhancements to the Inland Rail, which is already under construction in NSW, will deliver and extra economic boost of $2 billion through regional Australia.
"These enhancements to the Inland Rail network will deliver more contracts for local businesses and more work for Australians at a time when we need them most," he said.
The changes are projected to dump an extra $500 million into Queensland's gross state product which will now receive a total boost of $7.8 billion from construction.
It is understood delays finalising bilateral agreements with the Queensland Government have pushed back the expected completion of the project by close to two years.
Those delays are understood to have contributed to the cost blowout.
The Brisbane to Melbourne rail link is Australia's largest transport infrastructure project, with 600km of new track in 13 projects spread across Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the changes would ensure the project had enough capacity to meet Australia's future freight needs
"This is about being responsive to the needs of the farmers, businesses and communities who will rely on Inland Rail," he said.
"We're making improvements to the design to deliver a more efficient network while at the same time supporting even more jobs and economic activity."
At peak construction, which is due in 2024, the project is now expected to support 21,500 jobs.
The first trains to run the full route are expected to make the journey in 2027.
New design features include 4500 additional culverts, nine new viaducts, an extra 6.8km of bridges, about 450km of additional fencing and removing 139 level crossings.
Originally published as 4600 jobs in $5.5b blowout's silver lining