The first slab of concrete has been poured at the $2.8 billion Regional Rail Maintenance Facility in Dubbo, and has been given a traditional Indigenous name.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole was joined by Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders at the site to celebrate the next milestone for the regional rail project.
Mr Toole announced the NSW government had allocated $43 million in the 2020/2021 budget to ensure the project steams ahead. Over the next four years the NSW government has also committed another $1.3 billion to continue the building of the maintenance facility and delivery of the new regional rail fleet.
The project will replace NSW TrainLink's ageing XPT, Explorer and Endeavour trains with 29 new state-of-the-art trains to help make it more comfortable for people living in regional and rural communities.
"The EXP has been around for about 40 years, they're a much loved train that have well and truly served NSW for many decades, but it's time for a new fleet," Mr Toole said.
The project is expected to play a major role in boosting employment and the economy in the Dubbo region, and has already secured jobs for a number of local businesses, including a recent $3.6 million contract with LMJR Constructions.
Mr Toole said the project would create 200 jobs during the construction phase, as well as 50 permanent jobs after completion.
"There are skilled jobs, opportunity for apprentices, opportunities for young people, opportunities for Aboriginal people to be involved in employment, through the whole process of the construction of this facility," Mr Toole said.
The maintenance centre would be able to service the new fleet of trains, repair them and look after them in the future to come as well.
For the first time in the state, the transport maintenance centre would have an Indigenous name,Mindyarra, a Wiradjuri word meaning to fix or repair.
Mr Saunders said it was chosen to represent the work that would occur at the facility and the work they were doing to create a future of healing with the traditional owners of the land where the project is being built.
"I think it's an appropriate name, and from a cultural perspective a recognition of this being Wiradjuri land, it always was and always will be...and the recognition of the hard work of the Aboriginal Working Group," he said.
Chairperson of the Aboriginal Working Group Michelle Shipp said this was an important moment in history, and is a stepping stone in the cycle of welfare dependency.
"It means more than just an infrastructure project to us, it means sustainable regional jobs, it changes Aboriginal peoples lives," she said
"I always say that you give one Aboriginal person a job, you change a family. We've got an opportunity here to change multiple families within the Dubbo and western communities."
Through the project, Ms Shipp said a pre-employment program would see 14 Indigenous employees gain skills, as well as through a relationship between Transport for NSW, Training Services NSW and Skillset students going into Year 11 and 12 would have the opportunity to undertake skill-based apprenticeships and traineeships.
"So instead of lining up at Centrelink, there's real jobs, and all you have to do is reach out to the consortium group Transport for NSW and Momentum Trains to gain employment," she said.
"Let's change our community for the better and build Aboriginal people who are proud to work and gain opportunity to change our children's lives as well."
Construction of the rail maintenance facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2022, with the new fleet of trains being rolled out in 2023.