Private parties invited to register interest in US$1 billion rail project in Australia

Private parties invited to register interest in US$1 billion rail project in Australia

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The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has opened a Registration of Interest (ROI) process for the Inland Rail PPP project. This involves the design, construction, financing and maintenance of a 130km railway between Gowrie and Kagaru, in the northeastern state of Queensland.

The project is part of the Inland Rail programme, which will deliver a new 1,710km freight railway linking two of the biggest cities in the country, Melbourne and Brisbane, and crossing three states. The total construction cost for Inland Rail is estimated at AUD10.9 billion (US$7.79 billion). The Australian Government has committed AUD9.3 billion (US$6.65 billion) to the project.

As the Gowrie-Kagaru section is the only segment to be delivered by a private partner, this indicates that the total investment required is AUD1.6 billion (US$1.14 billion).

As well as the dual gauge railway, the private partner will deliver 11 passing loops, a number of viaducts and bridges totalling around 12km, several road over rail grade separations and level crossings, new roads and realignment of local roads. The segment also includes approximately 8.5km of major tunnelling through the Toowoomba, Little Liverpool and Teviot mountain ranges, presenting a range of complex engineering and construction challenges.

The PPP contract will include a maintenance period of between 15 and 30 years.

The purpose of the ROI is to allow ARTC to identify organisations interested in the project and to establish a structured market sounding process for the project. The corporation has emphasised that the ROI process is not a pre-qualification for participating in future market sounding or receiving an invitation to submit an Expression of Interest for the project.

ARTC intends to undertake market sounding in Q4 2018. The formal procurement process for the project is proposed to commence in Q1 2019 with an invitation for Expression of Interest (EOI) Phase. This is expected to result in the selection of a shortlist of two or three consortia to participate in the Request for Proposals (RFP) Phase, which is currently expected to commence in mid-2019.

ATRC has stated that responses to the ROI may be submitted "at any stage", however interested parties are encouraged to respond prior to 22 October 2018 to allow for the planned market sounding schedule. For more information, see the Business Opportunity.

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