The third annual ARA/ALC Inland Rail Conference took place at Albury Entertainment Centre in Albury NSW from 25-27 May 2021, with this year’s theme being Connecting Regions and Building Australia. Inland Rail was the Gold Sponsor, and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) sponsored the Welcome Reception.
As Digital Engagement Coordinator for Inland Rail I was asked to be part of the team to lead the interactive portion of our booth and assist with any technical requirements.
I arrived in Albury mid-day on the 25th to check-in and already there were industry personnel setting up and networking at the Entertainment Centre. Everyone was looking forward to the Welcome Reception later that evening in Wodonga, and as I made my way through the centre to begin setting up it was evident this was going to be a large event. Over the course of three days approximately 390 rail industry and supply chain leaders, operators, customers, ports representatives and regional community leaders attended bringing together the industry in one location.
The Welcome Reception was held at the Goods Shed in Wodonga, and a stage was set up inside the venue for speeches. The venue was set up to allow for guests to flow outside to the front of the venue (open air), however this wasn’t utilised due to the wet weather.
Kirk Conningham, ALC CEO welcomed guests and as part of the ARTC sponsorship. The Honourable Warren Truss AC addressed guests and his speech was very well received.
The Welcome Breakfast next morning brought the first networking opportunity, as attendees had the chance to speak with everyone at their table about Inland Rail and learn about all the initiatives that are putting Albury on the map. The panel was articulate, and each member represented a different industry. It gave the sense that Albury is pushing to become a central regional city, and there will be a solid and diverse workforce for future generations. The Welcome Breakfast was one of the highlights in terms of showcasing what Inland Rail means for regional cities and the food was very good!
From there I made my way to the booth to welcome attendees, showcase our interactive maps, and talk to them about Inland Rail. There were a number of stalls representing a number of different stakeholders and it was great to speak with everyone about their experience with ARTC and/or business in the surrounding region.
We had many people come and ask us about Inland Rail, explore the project areas using our interactive touch screen maps, and of course grab some free swag. I had quite a number of riveting conversations and made a few contacts along the way!
Throughout the three days I was able to attend some of the speaking engagements and catch a couple of our own Inland Rail representatives. I very much enjoyed hearing past CEO Richard Wankmuller speak, as well current interim CEO Rebecca Pickering. They both set the tone for the rest of the day and it was great to hear them speak so passionately about the project.
You can find the rest of the ARTC speaking engagements below as well a complete list of speakers and panels on the Inland Rail Conference website.
- Mark Campbell – keynote address on Wednesday 26 May – Connecting freight to and from Inland Rail
- Richard Wankmuller – opening keynote address on Wednesday 26 May – Inland Rail update
- Rebecca Pickering – keynote address on Wednesday 26 May – Inland Rail and the community
- Marnie Evans – keynote address on Thursday 27 May – What’s next? Upcoming opportunities with Inland Rail
- Damien White – panel representative on Thursday 27 May – Panel: Innovative technology driving regional Australia
- Paul Hollamby – panel representative on Wednesday 26 May – Panel: Reflections on the completed Parkes to Narromine project and breaking ground to North Star
Overall, I very much enjoyed my time at the Conference and I would recommend it to anyone in the rail industry. I learned quite a bit about the supply chain and how local businesses in Albury/Wodonga will contribute to Inland Rail. Being headquartered in Brisbane it can be tough to get out on the alignment and get valuable face-to-face time, so I am thankful for the opportunity and hope to get out there again soon!
Michael Greenwood – Digital Engagement Advisor – ARTC