This project is underpinned by Inland Rail’s 2015 business case. The original estimated cost of Inland Rail was $4.7 billion, which later became $9.9 billion. The Australian Government has now committed over $14.3 billion to the Inland Rail project, which is governed by an out-of-date business case and undermined by predictions that the project will exceed $20 billion.
It is apparent to the committee that the original costings and allocated budget for Inland Rail was inadequate from the outset, and is a failure on behalf of the Australian Government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to appropriately prepare, plan and implement Inland Rail. Whether Inland Rail’s 2015 business case remains valid in light of the substantial increase in capital required for its completion is a key question. It is the committee’s view that this substantive increase in the cost of Inland Rail alone warrants a review and update of the 2015 business case.
- The introductory chapter provides background and context to the committee's inquiry, along with a brief overview of Australia’s freight and supply chain, and key aspects of the planning and underlying rationale of the Inland Rail project, including a summary of the Inland Rail 2015 Business Case (business case) and bilateral agreements. This chapter concludes with a summary of the Inland Rail project and its status as of April 2021.
- Chapter 2 discusses the financial arrangements and the basis for the Inland Rail project. Specifically, this chapter considers in more detail the business case, the economic benefits and overall cost of the project. In addition, this chapter considers the demand for, and impact of, the 24-hour journey time service parameter of Inland Rail, its competitiveness with other modes of transport and the broader regulatory framework of the freight transport sector.
- Chapter 3 details the connectivity of Inland Rail with the seaports of Brisbane and Melbourne, and the intermodal facilities at Acacia Ridge, Bromelton and Melbourne. This chapter also considers arguments for and against Inland Rail connecting to the Port of Gladstone and concludes with commentary on the Inland Rail Interface Program.
- Chapter 4 considers the ARTC’s consultation and engagement measures, and the concerns of local communities, landholders, local governments and industry about the lack of meaningful engagement.
- Chapters 5 and 6 feature specific projects of Inland Rail across Queensland, NSW and Victoria. The projects considered in more detail are sections of Inland Rail that have been heavily criticised throughout the course of this inquiry, particularly those greenfield sections that traverse floodplains and/or travel through densely populated areas.