Construction of the long-awaited Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) hub has drawn nearer, with council and developers putting pen to paper.
Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA) signed a framework agreement with Wagga City Council on Wednesday, which paves the way for the construction of the actual freight hub and railway infrastructure.
“The RiFL hub has the ability to transform our local economy and the signing of the framework agreement is the culmination of many months of hard work,” mayor Greg Conkey said.
“We look forward to continuing to work with GWA on this exciting infrastructure project.”
First announced in 2012, the highly-anticipated hub has already received more than $20 million in state and federal funding, touted as an “inland port” that would open up “hundreds of millions of dollars” for Wagga’s economy.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after years of delay and false starts for the project. The first commercial partner, Patrick-Asciano, backed out of a $15 million deal and the second venture with rail infrastructure specialist Traxion fell over when that company went into voluntary administration in 2015.
GWA was appointed a few months later and acting managing director Dave Brown welcomed the certainty the agreement provided.
“With this important milestone achieved, GWA looks forward to advancing the development work required to position the RiFL hub to be a commercial and economic success, including detailed engagement with customers,” Mr Brown said.
“We look forward to working closely with the City of Wagga on the next phase of stage two.”
Committee 4 Wagga chief Chris Fitzpatrick described the framework agreement as a way for both parties to make sure the project would work.
“It’s a confirmation of the existing arrangement and it gives the council and GWA time to develop a framework for their business and we look forward to a positive outcome,” Mr Fitzpatrick said. “The outcomes of project are dependent on the successful operation of the hub and we look forward to the day the land returns income to the city when the business is up and running.”
Council is expected to make a final decision on its support for the project in August, when the project delivery deed is tabled.
Staff will also undertake an economic appraisal to confirm the RiFL hub delivers positive economic benefits to the region.
Wagga City Council has entered the final months of construction work on the Bomen Enabling Roads project.