Construction on the Inland Rail project has begun.
The federal government said the 1,700 kilometre dedicated freight line between Melbourne and Brisbane.
The construction contract for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail is worth more than $300 million and so far more than 14,000 tonnes of steel has been delivered to the site.
There are currently 187 live contracts for materials, goods and services worth $637 million associated with Inland Rail, including the manufacturing of 200,000 concrete sleepers.
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack turned the first sod today at Parkes, NSW.
He said the new freight line would boost regional jobs and farmers’ returns.
“It will deliver jobs, not just during the construction phase, but permanent jobs through increased freight," Mr McCormack said.
“Farmers will be able to move food and fibre between Melbourne and Brisbane, in larger volumes and more cost-efficiently.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $9 billion project would pump cash into local economies.
“It will drive significant investment in the communities themselves through the creation of around 16,000 direct and indirect jobs, and a $16 billion contribution to the national economy.
“Our $9.3 billion investment in Inland Rail is a key part of our record $75 billion infrastructure plan which is supporting better freight transport to deliver economic and community gains across the nation.”
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government expects a more than double return on its investment.
“For every dollar that we are investing in Inland Rail it will return $2.62 to the national economy,” Mr Cormann said.
Construction of the entire line is slated for completion in the mid-2020s.