Right now, the construction of Inland Rail is helping deliver new opportunities for our regions and sending millions of dollars through the doors of local businesses. It’s generating new contracts for a variety of sectors and giving a boost to businesses big and small. And along the way it’s helping support new jobs and skills for workers, like Craig Whitfield in Moree, New South Wales.
Trans4m Rail, Moree
Kamilaroi man, Craig Whitfield, has plenty to say about the opportunities Inland Rail has provided. With no previous construction industry experience, the Moree local is now gaining a Cert III in Construction while working for Trans4m Rail, the contractors building a section of Inland Rail’s Narrabri to North Star project.
“As well as theory, we’re having on the job training with machinery operation like excavator, grader, dozer and roller,” said Craig.
Having previously worked jobs in cotton, wheat and shearing, Craig landed the job on the Inland Rail project through the local Aboriginal employment strategy. He believes the project has been amazing for his hometown, especially for the local Indigenous people.
"Working on a project like this, we’re on our Country. Indigenous people don’t like being away from their Country for too long. It’s so close knit around here."
After such a long period of drought, Craig saw more and more people leaving the region due to the lack of jobs. But now that Inland Rail has come to town, the employment and business boost driven by the project has created a hive of activity within the New South Wales town.
“Inland Rail has been great for the local economy. The community has been given a real lift in morale,” said Craig.
For Craig personally, all the training he’s been provided has given him a new confidence in himself. He’s now looking at buying his own house in the area, something he never thought he’d be able to do.
“Having an opportunity like this on our doorstep, is one of the best I’ve had in my life, if not THE best.”
The project is not only supporting new jobs and skills for workers in regional areas but new opportunities for regional businesses as well. Like Tait Auto Group, based in Goondiwindi and Moree.
Tait Auto Group, Goondiwindi and Moree
Tait Auto Group isn’t just a business, it’s a family. Run by David Tait and his daughter Kendall, the company employs around 100 locals across their Goondiwindi and Moree operations.
“A big part of our business is looking after locals. Family is very important to us. And not just ours, but the families who work for us,” said Kendall.
Tait Auto Group recently won a vehicle servicing contract for Trans4m Rail, the company constructing Phase 1 of the Narrabri to North Star section of Inland Rail. The contract sees the Tait’s Toyota dealership in Moree fulfilling a maintenance role for the vehicles, which includes parts and servicing, warranty work and any repairs required during the project.
Tendering for the contract began about 18 months ago with information sessions held by Inland Rail in the local area. The process to meet the tender requirements has helped the Taits formalise many internal aspects of their business.
“The tendering process gave us the tools to implement new processes and identify opportunities that will help us grow,” said Kendall.
David Tait is passionate about the communities that their business operates within. For him, Inland Rail will start to see towns like Goondiwindi, Moree, North Star and others prosper as a result of the new infrastructure being built.
“In the next five years Inland Rail is going to be very good for the towns that it’s travelling through, helping all kinds of small businesses from fuel stations to hotels and motels, other mechanics, you name it - everything.”
In an area that has seen drought for the last five years, the Taits believe the business Inland Rail will drive into their region will complement the momentum that the rains have recently brought. Even now they can see the difference in the community.
Not only is Inland Rail creating opportunities for small businesses, but it’s also giving companies like AECOM, the opportunity to collaborate on a once in a generation project. And along the way, exposing their workers to completely new skill sets at almost every level.
Hydrogeologist, AECOM, Brisbane
Krystle Nichols knows first-hand the enormous opportunity Inland Rail presents for Australia. As a Senior Hydrogeologist working for AECOM, she's excited to be involved on a project that will revolutionise Australia’s freight infrastructure.
Krystle’s company AECOM formed a joint venture with Aurecon to win a service contract for six of the 13 stages of Inland Rail. Called the Future Freight Joint Venture, the partnership involves both companies working closely together, with Aurecon managing the project’s design and AECOM facilitating the environmental considerations.
“The scale of the project is unprecedented in size. It really is a once in a generation project to be working on.”
Winning the contract for Inland Rail has helped provide a stable pipeline of work for both AECOM and Aurecon in Australia. But not just that, it’s given Krystle and her team the opportunity to upskill and take part in cutting-edge research in their field.
“Sometimes these joint ventures can be competitive. But this one has been such collaborative process. It’s made it a really fun place to work,” said Krystle.
While the Inland Rail project has helped Krystle grow professionally, she also recognises the opportunities the project offers the country are much bigger.
“Modernising our freight infrastructure means more opportunity for jobs growth. It means more opportunities for communities to be enhanced along the way. That’s what makes the work so meaningful for me.”
The contracts generated by Inland Rail are supporting businesses of all different sizes, in a variety of industries. For spring water supplier Waddi Group, it’s helped them grow nationally.
Director, Waddi Group
Winning the contract to supply spring water for the Parkes to Narromine section of Inland Rail has helped Queensland business, Waddi Group, further expand their national footprint.
The majority-owned Indigenous business started with only two people. Today, they have more than 14 staff with six distributors servicing clients nationally. For Waddi Group Director and Goreng Goreng woman Tomika Johnson, their success lies within their mission - to help build brighter futures for Indigenous Australians across the nation.
“We wanted to provide quality beverage products to the food service sector, all while having a social conscience in everything we do.”
Waddi Group was introduced to the project through an existing relationship they had with one of Inland Rail’s contractors. After a rigorous tender process, they won the contract to provide spring water to all Inland Rail offices, workers’ accommodation, and construction sites between Parkes and Narromine in New South Wales.
Tomika believes Inland Rail is a great project to help support all communities in regional areas, including Indigenous communities. And as a business owner, she sees real value in the faster freight logistics the project offers growing Australian companies like hers.
“I think it’s a great project. I think it will provide lots of opportunities to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.”
With construction well underway, more contractors and workers are frequenting local businesses like Moree café, Brooker Trading Co.
Owner, Brooker Trading Co, Moree
Brooker Trading Co is serving up more coffee than ever before thanks to Inland Rail. As the project brings more workers and contractors into the Moree area, it’s also sending more customers through café owner Shane Brooker’s door.
Shane’s café is a family-run business, staffed mainly by himself and his three daughters. They not only supply quality espresso to the community, they also make all their own food and bread using flour that’s milled locally. Shane sees all the new people and workers around town as a great boost for the local economy.
“The Inland Rail project is a great boon for Moree. Everyone is gaining something.”
Several years ago, the Brookers decided to take a risk and invest in renovating the café. Now with the increase of people in town due to the construction of Inland Rail, that investment has paid off and Shane is looking to expand their offering with night openings and events.
“What I’ve noticed most, is there’s a real confidence around town. There’s a buzz here now. And it’s all thanks to Inland Rail.”
The opportunities being created by the Inland Rail project are endless. Right across the country it’s supporting jobs and new skills for everyday Australians and generating new business opportunities for companies to help them grow.
This is our opportunity. This is our Inland Rail.