North West NSW residents are encouraged to have their say on the North Star to Border (NS2B) leg of Inland Rail, through the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) by the NSW Government.
The release of the EIS comes as the final load of concrete sleepers was delivered for the Narrabri to North Star section of the Inland Rail, which is due to start construction later this year.
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said progressing the EIS to public exhibition was a key milestone for the project, which will boost the local economy, create jobs, and improve connectivity between the region's producers and domestic and international markets.
"The North Star to NSW/QLD Border project is one of the key links in the Inland Rail alignment, and will have a huge economic impact on the region," he said.
"Inland Rail will support around 5,000 jobs during construction across NSW and could support hundreds more for northern NSW by its 10th year of operation - showing just how serious our government is about creating jobs for the region.
"The release of the EIS will be welcomed by locals, giving them the opportunity to make submissions to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and be part of the planning and design process, ensuring local knowledge and expertise helps inform delivery of this project.
"I encourage locals to review the EIS and have their say to make sure we get this right and shovels hitting the dirt on the next section of this game-changing rail line."
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said that he was excited to see planning for the critical next section of Inland Rail progressing, with community input and feedback essential to delivering the best outcomes for the region.
"We know how important Inland Rail is to the nation - reshaping how freight is moved across the nation while generating more than 16,000 jobs and providing a $16 billion boost to the national economy when and where it is needed most," he said.
"To deliver Inland Rail and realise these important regional jobs and economic benefits we must ensure the project complies with strict state and commonwealth legislation - the years of work that have informed the NS2B EIS will not be complete until communities have their say."
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Inland Rail would transform Australia's freight network and provide significant benefits for businesses - both small and large - across the country.
"Inland Rail's fast and efficient freight service will support national productivity and deliver local benefits through construction and operation, which is why I welcome this opportunity for communities along the alignment to engage with the planning and design," he said.
The Inland Rail North Star to Border section within NSW proposes to upgrade approximately 25km of existing, non-operational track and construct 5km of new track to complete a critical link in the spine of Australia's national freight network.
Works will include upgrades to existing track, construction of bridges, viaducts and culverts, enhanced level crossings, grade separations and crossing loops.
The public exhibition of the EIS opened on August 26 and will remain open until Tuesday, October 6.
More information on how to engage with the EIS public exhibition, including how to access online information sessions and where to provide feedback is available at www.inlandrail.artc.com.au or www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/on-exhibition