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The Federal Government is injecting a further $5.5 billion into the Inland Rail project, saying the ‘major enhancements’ funded will bring thousands of extra jobs.

It is expected to mean an additional 4600 jobs on Queensland sections of the infrastructure, taking the number of jobs at the peak of construction in Queensland (around 2024) to 11800.

The enhanced design is also forecast to deliver a $7.8 billion boost to the Queensland Gross State Product – up from $7.3 billion.

The 1700km Melbourne to Brisbane rail link is Australia’s largest transport infrastructure project, with 600km of new track in projects across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The extra spending will take the total cost of the Australian Rail Track Corporation-led project to $14.5 billion and is expected to improve safety and help address community objections.

The new design will include more than 4500 additional culverts, nine additional viaducts, an additional 6.8km of bridges, 10 extra grade separations, about 450km of additional fencing, and see the removal of 139 level crossings, the government said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the enhancements would lead to a safer and more efficient Inland Rail as well as deliver significant benefits for regional communities, businesses and jobs.

“Inland Rail is a jobs bonanza. It’s already supporting thousands of jobs, has already started to generate billions in economic activity and will eventually lead to a boost of more than $18 billion Gross Domestic Product during construction and in the first 50 years of operation,” he said.

“These enhancements will provide for greater local investment, mean Inland Rail will now support more than 21,500 jobs at the peak of construction and deliver an extra economic boost of $2 billion.

“Australian communities and industries have asked for more from this national infrastructure project and we have listened.”

The enhancements will be made possible through an additional injection of up to $5.5 billion of equity into Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

The first section of Inland Rail, between Parkes and Narromine, is now completed and work has now started on the 171km Narrabri to North Star section.

Planning is also well advanced on other sections of the track, with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the largest section between Narromine to Narrabri on public display and a further four statements expected to be released for the Queensland sections of Inland Rail in the coming months.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation last month invited a shortlist of three consortia to submit proposals for the Toowoomba-Beaudesert section of the Inland Rail in Queensland.

Capstone, G2K Connect and Regionerate Rail are now entering a Request for Proposal (RFP) phase to determine which will win the contract for this section.