$1bn funds promise revives AusLink hopes

<p>Federal transport minister John Anderson looks to have secured at least $1bn in fresh funds for national land transport infrastructure.</p> <p>The Government has flagged a major announcement from Mr Anderson &#8211 expected this Thursday (January 22) &#8211 on a four-year funding deal.</p> <p>It is thought most of the funding will be on roads, but a spokesman for Mr Anderson said there would be funding to improve key rail infrastructure, including the dedicated rail freight lines between Port Botany and Western Sydney.</p> <p>The funding is likely to build on the Federal Government’s $1.2bn Roads to Recovery program in regional areas, and will upgrade the national freight infrastructure to handle the expected doubling of freight traffic by 2020.</p> <p>Promoting the use of rail to transport freight is reported to be a key component of the package, as well as plans to restrict the hours during which heavy trucks may use certain roads.</p> <p>The package is being touted as a "downpayment" on Mr Anderson’s national land infrastructure plan AusLink &#8211 which many critics had already written off.</p> <p>But the deal has revived hopes for AusLink and for overdue investment in some of the nation’s freight bottlenecks.</p> <p>The Association of Australian Ports and Marine Authorities’ (AAPMA) executive director, John Hirst, welcomed the news.</p> <p>"We are extremely pleased that at long last there is some positive news coming out of AusLink and that funds are going to be made available," Mr Hirst said.</p> <p>AAPMA is pleased that the Government had recognised the benefits of funding linkages to ports and how that funding would enhance Australia’s international competitiveness, he said. </p> <p>"We hope the funding will be made available in the next financial year," Mr Hirst said.</p> <br />