The Australian Railway Association (ARA) has called for the support and promotion of passenger and freight rail infrastructure to play a more significant role in the 2019-20 Federal Budget.
The ARA cited congestion-busting rail options as a key component of addressing Australia’s growing public transport and freight needs.
ARA CEO, Danny Broad, said, “Cities are increasingly looking to integrated transport systems that link high-capacity metro systems with current rail networks, light rail regional rail and other transport modes to encourage active and engaged community based lifestyles.
“Rail provides the backbone of public transport systems, for our growing cities.
Mr Broad said Australia’s growing population also requires an increased allocation of goods, adding pressure on freight networks nationwide.
“Rail freight provides a cost-effective, safe and environmentally sound solution for reducing congestion from heavy vehicles on urban, regional and interstate roads,” he said.
“Rail freight will need to play a greater role in the future to meet Australia’s increasing freight task and to maintain our international competitiveness.”
The ARA’s National Rail Industry Plan for the Benefit of Australia presents a case for amore collaborative approach between Australian governments and the rail industry to overcome inefficiencies inherent in the federal system.
ARA has identified a number of specific programs in its submission for funding.
The first involves resourcing the Australian and New Zealand Industry Pipeline to provide a comprehensive list of rail projects to allow better industry planning for new rail infrastructure and rolling stock.
Second is support for a high level task force of the rail industry, governments and education providers to address critical skilled labour shortages and provide ‘fit-for-purpose’ training in rail construction, manufacturing, maintenance and operations.
The ARA argues that appropriate resources must be provided at the federal level to progress and implement measures contained in the final National Freight and Supply Chain strategy, including both infrastructure upgrades and the strengthening of regulatory frameworks.
The organisation involves implementing independent price regulation of heavy vehicle charges, citing unequal charging and regulatory systems that place rail at an unfair competitive disadvantage.
Support for passenger rail operators to comply with Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (DSAPT) was also identified as a key issue.
According to the ARA, allowing Australians to salary sacrifice the purchase of public transport tickets will tackle urban congestion as the move positions public transport as a viable alternative to car travel.
Finally, the organisation called for the corridor of land required to establish a high-speed rail link between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane to be preserved and secured.
The ARA also provided the government with a list of rail optimisation projects to consider, where existing rail services could be enhanced.
View the ARA’s full submission here.