News in Brief
Pacific National extends SteelLink relationships; Keep up-to-date with changes to national rail regulations; Infrastructure investment hits new high; ARA welcomes calls for transport funding reforms; Top gongs for Trainworks; Technology to tackle QLD crossing safety; Guidelines released for Regional Infrastructure Fund
Pacific National Rail extends SteelLink relationships
Pacific National Rail has entered into a new agreement with BlueScope Steel Limited and Arrium Limited (previously OneSteel Limited) for the continued provision of rail linehaul services.
The linehaul services involve the movement of approximately 3 million tonnes per annum of a range of steel products (including the previously announced Jumbo Coil service expected to commence in the second quarter of FY13), between the major steel manufacturing sites at Port Kembla, Westernport, Whyalla and Newcastle and to steel distribution terminals in the mainland capital cities.
Existing arrangements will expire on 31 December 2014 and services under the new agreement will commence from 1 January 2015 for a minimum period of seven years.
In addition, Asciano has entered into an agreement with BlueScope to continue to supply rail services within the BlueScope Port Kembla Steelworks. The new contract will have a minimum duration of seven years from 1 January 2015.
Keep up-to-date with changes to national rail regulations
As the 1 January 2013 implementation date for the National Rail Safety Regulator and Investigator draws closer, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has developed a set of question and answers (QnAs) to provide some guidance on the new Law and how it will affect rail organisations.
Arranged into 14 key topics, the QnAs will be maintained as a living document and added to as additional questions arise. Visit: http://ara.net.au/site/Rail-safety-reform-QnAs.php?utm_source=12-07-17+ARA+E-News&utm_campaign=80de3ddd9d-Newsletter_Draft_18_07_2012&utm_medium=email
Infrastructure investment hits new high
Investment in Australia's infrastructure has hit a new high of $51.5bn in 2010-11, according to the latest Australian Infrastrucutre Statistics Yearbook.
Infrastructure investment is up 42% in real terms since 2006-7.
Investment in Australia's railways is up 118%, with investment in ports and harbours up 305% and roads and bridges up 50%.
ARA welcomes calls for transport funding reforms
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomed the recent release of the Infrastructure Finance and Funding Reform Report which calls for a move towards user-pay pricing for transport infrastructure.
The report was prepared by Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Finance Working Group.
ARA chief executive Bryan Nye said governments have subsidised road infrastructure without a long term view for “too long.”
“Given the precarious position of global financial markets, the global economy, and the imperative for government budget surpluses, the subsidy approach to road infrastructure is no longer viable and we need a better approach to fund infrastructure,” Nye said.
“Introducing a user-pays system to fund infrastructure will help benefit all Australians.”
According to the ARA, rail is on a journey towards user-pay pricing principles, where some infrastructure costs are covered by users, particularly for commercial endeavours such as freight.
“The ARA recommends that the road transport sector follows rail’s lead,” Nye said, “This model needs to be transferred to road infrastructure rather than rely on unsustainable government subsidies.”
A move towards a user-pay model will also benefit transport users and operators, through the provision of better, efficient and fit-for-purpose infrastructure, the ARA said.
“A user-pay approach will provide a long term, sustainable funding option for transport infrastructure whilst also providing significant benefits for transport users and operators, who will enjoy shorter journey times, less congested roads and safer travel options,” Nye said.
Top gongs for Trainworks
Rail museum Trainworks took out the prestigious Judges Commendation Award for Tourism Business Excellence at last week’s Greater Sydney Tourism Awards.
“Our volunteers are the hardworking team that makes Trainworks such an exciting destination, so I would like to dedicate both of our awards to them. Trainworks is a unique experience rich in rail heritage, we couldn’t offer the level of experience we do without our volunteers,” Trainworks chief executive Rob Austin said.
Located at Thirlmere, 90km south west of Sydney, Trainworks is a state-of-the-art, interactive centre of railway history.
Formerly the Rail Heritage Centre, Trainworks underwent a $30m facelift in April last year to emerge as Australia’s newest and biggest rail experience. Now home to Australia’s largest collection of rolling stock and train memorabilia, Trainworks is set on five hectares and is located at the site of historic Thirlmere Railway Station which dates back to 1885. Visit: www.trainworks.com.au
Technology to tackle QLD crossing safety
The Queenslansd Government will tackle ongoing problems at railway level crossings with what it says is a “mixture of innovation and awareness”.
Transport minister Scott Emerson recently called for expressions of interest for level crossing safety trials to commence later this year.
“We will provide up to $1m for rail safety technology companies to conduct trials of their technology on the Queensland network. These trials will help us ensure we have the most advanced rail safety measures to reduce the number of tragedies and near-misses at level crossings,” Emerson said.
Emerson said several level crossing safety technology innovations were emerging to improve railway crossing safety including radio break-in systems, in-road lights, low cost active level crossing protection equipment and broader Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems.
Guidelines released for Regional Infrastructure Fund
The Federal Government’s has released its guidelines for the $6bn Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF) as part of the proceeds of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax to pay for major road, rail, ports and other economic infrastructure.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the fund is about supporting the communities who are at the forefront of Australia’s resources boom.
“The release of these guidelines today means that all communities - state and local governments and other stakeholders - will now be able to submit detailed proposals to Infrastructure Australia for assessment,” Prime Minister Gillard said.
Infrastructure Australia will be charged with advising the Federal Government on how best to allocate funding over nine years.
Queensland and Western Australia stand to be big winners under the RIF with allocations factoring in the level of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax raised in each state.
As an early down-payment, the government will also provide $1.5m from the RIF for the Queensland Government to develop an overarching infrastructure plan addressing capacity and supply chain constraints.
There are three funding streams under the RIF:
• Stream 1: Implementation of commitments made in 2010 for funding from the Regional Infrastructure Fund—worth $916m. This stream includes $1.4m for the Scone level crossing in NSW.
• Stream 2: $4.5bn comprising two elements: economic infrastructure projects including rail, and regional infrastructure planning projects—worth approximately$10m. Stream 2 includes $1.66m for the North Queensland Resources Supply Chain project and the Central Queensland Resources Supply Chain project.
• Stream 3: Part of the Regional Development Australia Fund—worth approximately $1bn, with $573m to be funded from the RIF.
For more information visit: www.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/rifp/index.aspx
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- News in Brief