The rail sector big winners in Federal Budget

The Federal Budget outlines a $20 billion investment in rail sector upgrades to Australia’s passenger and freight rail, which are critical to connect people to jobs, and services and goods to markets.

The Australian Government will invest $10 billion over the next decade for the National Rail Program, which will fund transformational rail projects within cities, as well as better connections between cities and regional centres.

This investment is aimed to reduce the burden on Australian roads, provide more reliable transport networks, and support the Government’s efforts to decentralise the economy and grow regional Australia.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chief Executive Danny Broad welcomed the announcement.

“The Government’s renewed commitment to rail, including through its $10 billion National Rail Program for urban and regional passenger rail, underscores its importance to Australia and is welcomed by the rail industry,” Mr Broad said.

An additional $30 million will also be provided to fund the development of a business case for the Melbourne Airport Rail Link. The Federal Government will work with the Victorian Government to access potential further funding for this project from the $10 billion National Rail Program.

The Coalition Government is also providing an additional $8.4 billion in equity to deliver the Inland Rail project.

Inland Rail, the Commonwealth’s biggest rail project in 100 years, will provide a dedicated high-capacity rail freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane, to strengthen freight connections and with the aim getting freight off roads and onto rail.

The Coalition Government will deliver Inland Rail through the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) using a combination of Government equity and a Public Private Partnership for the Toowoomba to Kagaru tunnel section.

“The $8.4 billion announced by the Government today provides renewed confidence to all parts of the rail industry this project will be delivered,” Mr Broad said.

“Linking Victoria and regional NSW with Queensland will help get freight off the road and onto rail, address rising congestion in Sydney, and will deliver thousands of jobs; many in regional Australia.

“This project will deliver a strong economic contribution to the nation and will enhance productivity and increase consumer freight options.”

The Budget also includes over $1 billion for new and upgraded infrastructure in Victoria, utilising funding previously allocated to the Asset Recycling Initiative, despite the Victorian Government failing to meet the agreed requirements of the National Partnership Agreement on Asset Recycling.

Victoria will receive $500 million to build a better regional rail network with improvements to the North-East Line, the Gippsland Line and the Geelong Line, as well as a study into improving the Shepparton Line.

Victoria will also receive an additional $20.2 million for Murray Basin Rail, taking the Government’s total commitment to this project to $240 million. A further $460 million is available for Victorian infrastructure projects, which will be negotiated between the Australian and Victorian governments.

The Government is investing $1.6 billion towards a $2.3 billion road and rail infrastructure package in Western Australia.

The Government’s record $10 billion investment in rail is in addition to $792 million for Perth Metronet.

$1.2 billion, including up to $792 million of Federal Government funding, will be allocated towards the METRONET and related projects, subject to a positive assessment by Infrastructure Australia.

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