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A vision for a major inland freight port on the junction of two national rail lines is being realised, with plans being unveiled for a $50 million freight terminal.
Rail haulage giant Pacific National wants to build its first intermodal terminal just outside the central west New South Wales town of Parkes.
It would form part of the National Logistics Hub, a large tract of land on the western edge of Parkes which is already home to a number of other freight firms.
Parkes Shire Council has reserved the land ahead of the planned Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail project, which will pass through the town where it would intersect with the Sydney to Perth rail line.
Mayor Ken Keith said Pacific National's plans to operate out of Parkes was a game-changer for inland freight across Australia.
"Our vision for a national logistics hub is now coming to fruition," Cr Keith said.
"It's wonderful to see Australian Rail Track Corporation and Pacific National working together to help deliver this intersection of the two railway lines in Australia and developing what will be a major hub in Australia's freight and logistics network."
The company has lodged a preliminary environmental assessment on the planned terminal and said it would be developed in stages.
It will be built alongside a new proposed six kilometre section of rail connecting the Inland Rail route up with the Broken Hill line, heading west.
Despite being about 400 kilometres inland, more than 80 per cent of Australia's population can be reached by road in less than 12 hours from Parkes.
The national intermodal manager Graham Moore said having a major base in the district would boost freight efficiency and export opportunities for regional Australia.
Federal funding for Inland Rail creates industry certaintyMr Moore said the Federal Government's $8.4 billion commitment to Inland Rail in this year's budget was a major factor in the company's decision to proceed with the terminal.
"What we did say to government was once they made a commitment, we would invest in regional Australia and make sure that we backed up our words with actions, and Parkes is really the first one," he said.
"It is one of those ones that can be delivered early because it does have east-west benefit as well as north-south.
"The issue for us has been, we've had plans to invest for a fair amount of time.
"Once you have certainty, then you can move on those plans and certainly, the announcement has helped with bringing that to the surface."
Cr Keith said it would likely be the catalyst for other freight firms moving to Parkes.
"I think you'll also find that people will do some negotiations with Pacific National, and SCT Logistics that have also got land holdings in that hub, to negotiate a position where they can utilise some of the facilities and develop warehouses on some of that existing land," he said.
Pacific National said it was also looking at other regional locations for another freight terminal, most likely along the Inland Rail route.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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