The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has finalised the reference design and a preferred alignment for the Illabo – Stockinbingal rail section of Inland Rail.
This follows extensive design review, consultation with landowners and key stakeholders, and additional assessments including a constructability assessment, ecological and cultural heritage field investigations, and survey works.
The proposed finalised reference design will be shared with the community in June and ARTC is expecting to submit the finalised Environmental Impact Statement to the New South Wales Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment in September 2021.
The 37 km Illabo – Stockinbingal rail section creates a new direct route from east of Illabo tracking north to Stockinbingal in New South Wales. The new track will have a connection with the existing Forbes rail line.
The route will bypass the townships of Cootamundra and Bethungra and the winding, steep section of track known as the Bethungra Spiral on the Main South line, opening up a more efficient way to transport freight through the area.
A 2-km wide study area has been identified and approved by the Australian Government. This project is currently in the reference design stage. During this time, ARTC is conducting various studies and consulting with landowners and other key stakeholders to finalise plans for this project.
The works to build the new section includes shifting the alignment into the existing rail corridor adjacent to the Olympic Highway at Illabo which significantly reduces earthworks, the native vegetation clearance and land severance. It upgrades the current level crossing and removes the need for an additional level crossing and improves the design of the public level crossing at the Ironbong Road road-rail interface, decreasing necessary earthworks and reducing the visual impact on the natural landscape. The alignment will be also shifted further east at Stockinbingal Junction that will minimise haul distances and reduce impacts to the community and environment, will minimise impacts to the existing waterways and the disruptions to existing Burley Griffin Way traffic during construction.
In the NSW, the first of the Inland Rail 13 projects has been completed. The 103 km Parkes to Narromine section, is already in operation and early works on the Narrabri to North Star section has begun.
The 1,700 km rail corridor will offer improved connections and capacity linking Melbourne and Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.