THE first works on the multi-billion dollar Inland rail project near Toowoomba have started with a $23 million contract awarded for geotechnical testing.

Brisbane-based firm Golder Associates has been awarded the contract to conduct the testing through the Toowoomba, Teviot and Liverpool ranges.

The deepest borehole will reach up to 280m and will gather rock and earth samples that will prepare businesses to bid for tenders on the Gowrie to Kagaru section of the Inland Rail project.

The geotechnical investigations is the first stage of the ambitious and long-awaited project and is expected to deliver confidence to businesses about the viability of the project going ahead.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack lauded the start of the testing, and said the contract would "help to generate the best possible design solution for this critically important but ground-breaking segment" of the project.

"The Inland rail is a nation-building project which will still be operating and delivering economic and community benefits a century from now, which is why we are working purposefully to ensure we optimise the design and construction," he said.

"An estimate $10 per tonne freight saving, with faster and more efficient movement of farm produce from paddock to cities, is just one of the many exciting benefits of the Inland Rail which this government is delivering."


Groom MP Dr John McVeigh, ARTC Inland Rail Programme CEO Richard Wankmuller, and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Groom MP Dr John McVeigh, ARTC Inland Rail Programme CEO Richard Wankmuller, and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Matthew Newton

Finance and Public Service Minister Mathias Cormann said the geotechnical work was vital to ensuring the viability of the project, particularly the ability for double-stacked trains being able to travel through the ranges.

"This geotechnical work will provide the vitally important technical information needed to build the 6.4km tunnel under the Great Dividing Range which will be an engineering feat driven by government and industry collaboration," Senator Cormann said.

"Inland Rail will create over 7000 direct and indirect jobs here in Queensland and contribute $7 billion to the Gross State Product so it's critical we get it right and that's something this government knows is important to the local community."

Groom MP John McVeigh said the flow-on benefits of the long-awaited project would be substantial for the region.

"It will ease pressure on our roads and highways, making them safer and less congested removing an estimated 200,000 truck movements from roads each year," Dr McVeigh said.

"I'm looking forward to the Queensland Government finalising the bilateral agreement so we can get on with the job of building this vital infrastructure and Queenslanders can experience the Inland rail's benefits."