Applications are now open for project proposals to upgrade the NSW regional rail network as part of the state government’s Fixing Country Rail program.
Deputy premier, John Barilaro, minister for roads, maritime and freight, Melinda Pavey, and member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced the allocation of $150 million for Round One of the program.
The stated aim of the Fixing Country Rail program is to fund rail infrastructure projects that will improve connectivity on the regional network and reduce transport costs for regional businesses.
The $150 million comes out of the $400 million NSW Restart funding for enhancements to regional rail lines.
“Improving rail takes pressure off local roads, helps improve road safety and efficiencies in freight,” deputy premier Barilaro said.
“We want to enhance local communities, which is why we are focusing our efforts in improving networks in rail, roads and freight.”
The opening of Round One comes after last year’s Pilot Round, which funded projects at Burren Junction, Hillston, and Barellan, among others.
The deputy premier said that economic benefits were already being delivered by these projects.
“For every additional train leaving Burren Junction 70 trucks are being removed from the roads network and producers are saving up to $9 a tonne, while the extended siding has meant big savings in wagon loading times. We want to continue seeing these kinds of results.”
With the opening of Round One the government is encouraging those involved in the regional freight industry to nominate projects for the allocation of funds.
“While Fixing Country Rail funding will only be allocated to rail asset owners and managers, input from the people who produce and move freight will be critical for ensuring we get the best ‘bang for buck’ with any upgrades,” Kevin Humphries said.
Round One applications will be reviewed by a technical panel chaired by Transport for NSW’s Freight Industry Branch and then by the Infrastructure for NSW Independent Regional Assessment Panel, which will make recommendations for project funding.
Applications for Round One will be open until the middle of July.