6. Sustainability at Inland Rail

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Of course it’s crucial to understand what sustainability is, but what’s even more important is to learn about concrete and measurable steps one could take to support and promote sustainable development. As the number of individuals and communities who put sustainability at the forefront of their priorities is growing, this shift in collective values has been echoed in the professional landscape, with many companies around the world not just focusing on providing a product or a service to their customers, but on doing so in a considerate and sustainable way. 

Inland Rail is no exception, as sustainability is an integral part of all its operations. In fact, Inland Rail has taken a systematic approach to fostering internal sustainability culture by identifying 7 key sustainability objectives they would like to pursue:

  1. Leadership and awareness
  2. Governance
  3. Community and economy
  4. Environment and heritage
  5. Resource use
  6. Sustainable procurement
  7. Future operations

The aim of this part of your induction module is to briefly illustrate what each of these objectives targets and what actions have been taken to meet these objectives.

Leadership and awareness

Inland Rail strives to be a sustainability industry leader and to conduct its work in a publicly accountable manner. It’s also a priority to provide sustainability training and education to all Inland Rail employees, contractors, and partners.

Example initiative: Fulfilling their social responsibility to the general public, Inland Rail publishes annual sustainability reports. These reports showcase Inland Rail’s efforts to deliver the best possible outcomes for communities and the natural environment.


A focus on governance helps Inland Rail integrate sustainability into all internal business systems and processes and equip employees with the tools and resources to identify and address sustainability risks and opportunities. The aim is to encourage program-wide participation in decision-making, create sustainable working conditions, and support employee well-being.

Example initiative: Green and healthy building principles have been integrated into the design, fit-out, and operations of the new Inland Rail Brisbane office. Flexible and technology-enabled workstations, meeting rooms, and workspaces means people can collaborate easily and access various spaces suited to diverse professional tasks. The new office is also the first commercial building in Brisbane to achieve a 6-star rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, with features like capturing rainwater for use by fire management systems, grey water recycling from hand basins and showers for flushing toilets, and lift design that returns energy to the building while braking at each floor.

Community and economy

This objective helps Inland Rail mitigate social and economic impacts of rail development, respond to community concerns and support community aspirations. Job creation and economic recovery are significant benefits that Inland Rail brings to communities along the rail alignment and hosting the Inland Rail projects.

Example initiative: Commitment to creating opportunities for skilled local and Indigenous workers during construction. For instance, The Parkes to Narromine project had employed 622 local workers to the end of June 2020 including 168 local Indigenous workers. The video below offers a nice overview of this objective.

Environment and heritage

This objective contributes to enhancing environmental and heritage values by creating new opportunities for habitat protection and heritage preservation.

Example initiative: The Inland Rail Landscape and Rehabilitation Framework (May 2020) outlines actions required for rehabilitation of areas disturbed by construction. For instance, within the scope of the Parkes to Narromine project, Inland Rail applied 960,000 m2 of hydromulch – an efficient and sustainable vegetation restoration method – to the rail corridor. Hydromulch encourages fast cover crop growth that suppresses weeds and supports erosion control. As the cover crop dies off it creates favourable conditions for the establishment of perennial and native grasses. 

To learn more about heritage preservation efforts watch the video below.

Resource use

Inland Rail takes active steps to optimise the amount of water, energy, and materials utilised on the rail network and to minimise generated waste. 

Example initiative: Using materials with recycled content or low embodied impact (which means that are locally sourced or relatively unprocessed). For example, in the Parkes to Narromine, 11% of materials contained recycled content or had a low embodied impact. Next video also highlights how Inland Rail reuses available materials instead of discarding them into landfill.

Sustainable procurement

This objective tracks the program supply chain and ensures that it aligns with Inland Rail sustainability goals and values.

Example initiative: Evaluating and choosing suppliers based on a newly developed Supplier Sustainability Assessment Score, enabling Inland Rail to measure the sustainability ‘maturity’ of major suppliers and provide actionable suggestions on how they can improve over time.

Future operations

With a design life of over 50 years, Inland Rail has set this objective to future-proof the program against potential risks and changes (in climate or community needs) and to ensure long-term planning is integrated into all aspects of rail network development.

Example initiative: The Inland Rail Skills Academy has been created to raise awareness among school students in communities along the alignment about the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers that contribute to the successful completion of Inland Rail.

That was a lot to take in! Come back to this module whenever you like and keep these objectives in mind, as you'll need to refer back to them when designing your campaign, which is exactly what we are going to turn to now...