The Australian Government has released key selection criteria for its $10 billion National Rail Program (NRP).

The NRP will improve passenger rail connections between cities and regions, and is part of the Government’s $20 billion investment in rail.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, said the criteria for the NRP reflected the Australian Government’s commitment to take a direct role in ensuring state-based infrastructure investments delivered value for money.

“Better rail connectivity also makes it possible to grow the regions, reduce congestion in our cities, create thousands of new jobs, and support our efforts to decentralise,” Mr Chester said.

“The NRP will deliver funding for both planning and construction over the next 10 years, recognising that large-scale rail projects have long lead times.”

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, Paul Fletcher, said the NRP had been designed so that the government can target its investment in transformational rail projects that deliver the greatest economic and social benefits.

“By investing in transformational rail projects, travel times for commuters will be cut, and families and businesses will have affordable options to live and invest,” Mr Fletcher said.

“Projects under the NRP will need to address identified deficiencies, deliver economic benefits and consider innovative funding and financing solutions.

“Funding decisions will be informed by state and territory transport plans with projects seeking over $100 million in Commonwealth funding needing a positive assessment from Infrastructure Australia.”

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