Future market expansion

Domestic and international developments

Inland Rail connects into the broader national network of roads, rail, air and sea so companies can get their products across Australia and to international markets in an efficient and cost competitive way.

To take advantage of overseas markets, port connectivity is essential and the Australian Government has invested in studies and further planning at the following ports:

Over the next 20 years, total domestic freight volumes will grow another 35% from the amount carried on the transport network in 2018.

With over 20 million Australians currently living in Inland Rail states and the national population expected to reach nearly 40 million by 2060-61, this increase in Australians generating and consuming freight on the east coast will require our freight network to adapt to:

  • changing consumer preferences as online purchases rise to 40% of total retail sales by 2026
  • global economic shifts as over a billion people in Asia enter a growing middle class
  • technology innovations and emerging security challenges.

Effective and efficient transport

Inland Rail will provide an effective transport option travelling Melbourne to Brisbane in under 24 hours, delivering goods with 98% reliability and ensuring they are available when they’re needed, offering transport savings and efficiencies for Australian producers. The new freight route complements the supply chain and builds further connections into a broader national network of roads and rail.

Connecting the 2 fastest growing cities in the country, the Melbourne to Brisbane transport corridor is one of the busiest in the nation, with freight largely carried by road.

With longer, faster trains and its interoperability with the national freight network, there are good reasons for why Inland Rail provides an effective and efficient transport alternative.

To explore the market opportunities for agricultural producers, the CSIRO supply chain mapping looked at a hypothetical large dairy processor near Dubbo.

Dubbo Dairy produces high quality milk as their primary product and processes some yoghurts. Their annual yield of 40,000 kilolitres or 41,000 tonnes of milk travels via road transport to:

  • Sydney (70%)
  • Newcastle (25%)
  • The local area (5%)

The road distance to Brisbane and Melbourne and a near doubling of their freight costs have prevented Dubbo Dairy from establishing a presence in either of those markets.

With Inland Rail, Dubbo Dairy can transport their produce to Brisbane, covering more than double their usual distance in a time that’s comparable with road transport and nearly half the cost per tonne.

A graphic showing a time and cost comparison between a truck and a train travelling to Brisbane.

Using Inland Rail puts a new market in reach and brings Dubbo Dairy’s transport costs into line with what they pay to reach existing markets.

A graphic showing a comparison of truck travel and cost savings between Newcastle and Sydney

Find out more about this case study of the agricultural benefits [PDF 2.2MB] with Inland Rail.

Connectivity and interoperability

Inland Rail connects to ports, terminals and the rest of the national freight network to meet demand and expand Australia’s import and export markets.

Freight operators will be able to take advantage of:

  • standard gauge connections to all mainland state capitals and major ports
  • a consistent standard so the same rolling stock can go anywhere on the network
  • connections to all existing regional freight networks
  • a dual gauge connection throughout Queensland for a seamless connection to their regional narrow gauge network.

The Australian Government is invested in a range of initiatives to ensure we’ve assessed the potential for further improving Inland Rail’s connectivity.

These include:

  • the Interface Improvement Program which allocates business advisors to work on potential productivity enhancements and country line upgrades either side of Inland Rail
  • supporting market access to Melbourne including a business case for the proposed intermodal terminal, a business case for improving connections to the Port of Melbourne and the Port Rail Shuttle Network initiative to improve movement of freight between the Port of Melbourne and freight hubs in metropolitan areas
  • supporting market access to Brisbane including a business case for the proposed intermodal terminal, further planning to improve connections to the Port of Brisbane
  • exploring or improving regional connections to Narrabri’s Northern NSW Inland Port, the Ettamogah Rail Hub and the Port of Gladstone.

Inland Rail will also attract private sector investment and expansion with a wave of investment occurring on either side of the alignment. 

With the support of governments, industrial precincts are planned in Gilgandra, Moree and Wagga Wagga. Private sector operators including Interlink SQ, Linfox, Pacific National, SCT Logistics and Wellcamp Airport have also invested in expanding and improving local facilities.

Read more about the hubs forming around Inland Rail and private sector investments in your community.

Over the next 10, 30 and 50 years we expect to see new and expanded investments in food and fibre processing, as well as manufacturing, packing, distribution and transport facilities in regional areas.

Read the economic study commissioned by the Australian Government to find out more about the regional investment opportunities with Inland Rail.