The NSW Government has welcomed the start of work on the 1,700 kilometre Inland Rail project with the first sod being turned today in Parkes.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said today marks an exciting and pivotal moment in the project’s development.

“The long-held dream of a rail freight network connecting Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland is a reality,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Inland Rail will facilitate trains of nearly 2kms in length, taking more freight from long haul trucks and putting it on to rail.

“The NSW Government is investing in the arterial roads, rail and business precincts that link into the Inland Rail to drive commerce across this great spine and grow our regions,” he said.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said more than $800 million is being injected into local infrastructure to deliver more opportunities and jobs in regional communities for this once-in-a-generation project.

“This is about ensuring we have better connectivity to ports, intermodals and other freight hubs to maximise the potential of the Inland Rail project,” Mrs Pavey said.

“More than 60 per cent of the project will involve using and upgrading existing rail lines and corridors.

“The remaining 30 per cent will see construction of new rail including a section of more than 300km between Narrabri and Narromine,” Mrs Pavey said.

Parliamentary Secretary for Western NSW Rick Colless said the project will boost Australia’s GDP by an estimated $16 billion through construction and its first 50 years of operation.

“After years of sitting on shelves collecting dust the Inland Rail project has become a reality and will add billions of dollars to our regional economies,” Mr Colless said.