AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Budget a ‘mixed bag’ for transport infrastructure

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Rail gained a hefty slice of last week’s Budget, but the government has come under fire for overlooking urban transport projects previously earmarked for funding by Infrastructure Australia. </span> <p>By Jennifer Perry</p><p>The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) received almost $1bn in federal funding for further upgrades and projects, with an additional $70.7m to be spent to complete the detailed planning on the Moorebank Intermodal Terminal Project in Sydney’s southwest.<br />However, these were the only major infrastructure projects to receive funding, and the budget did little to advance Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) “priority pipeline” of infrastructure projects, particularly for urban transport.<br />IA was established by the government two years ago to assess and prioritise nationally significant infrastructure. Last year’s Budget saw a number of infrastructure projects, including rail, receive significant federal funding under the advice of IA.<br />IA&nbspalso identified a “priority pipeline” of projects that needed further work before IA could provide definite funding advice.<br />Since that time, IA has been working with infrastructure proponents to develop this pipeline of projects, and has also been assessing its second round of infrastructure submissions.<br />“There’s no doubt that some of the states will be disappointed that the next round of nationally significant projects were not funded in [this year’s] budget,” Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) executive director Brendan Lyon said.<br />“The Federal Government’s role in infrastructure has been very welcome&hellipbut if the Commonwealth is going to be a long-term partner in addressing shortfalls across the infrastructure network, we will need to see further funding commitments to bring the next generation of projects to life.<br />“Congestion busting projects like Melbourne’s metro rail tunnel and Brisbane’s cross river rail offer the ability to transform these cities.<br />“These projects were identified as nationally significant by IA and it’s in everybody’s interest that these kinds of projects are funded and delivered.”<br />Infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese was surprised by the criticism and denied that the Budget ignored spending on infrastructure, telling the <em>ABC</em> that the government has committed $37bn to national-building infrastructure over the next six years.<br />On the freight front, The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) have welcomed the government’s $5.6bn State Infrastructure Fund, to be spent over 10 years.<br />&quotFunding will be distributed in a way which recognises that resource-rich states face large associated infrastructure demands,&quot Albanese said.<br />&quotThe government has asked IA to continue developing our national infrastructure pipeline to give private investors, including superannuation funds, the certainty they need in planning for infrastructure investment in the coming years&quot. <br />The government’s $1bn investment in the ARTC will fund seven new rail projects:<br />&bull&nbsp$170m straightening of the line between Maitland and the Queensland border at 58 locations (NSW), helping to reduce transit times along the eastern seaboard by almost one hour and taking 14 months to complete <br />&bull&nbsp$24m to construct three double track passing loops near the NSW towns of Goulburn, Moss Vale and Glenlee, taking 20 months to complete <br />&bull&nbsp$312m re-railing the lines between Whyalla and Broken Hill and between Parkes and Broken Hill (NSW/South Australia), an upgrade which will allow both to be used by heavier trains. This will take more than two years to complete <br />&bull&nbsp$253m to replace existing wooden sleepers on the line between Parkes and Broken Hill (NSW) with 1m new concrete sleepers, greatly improving its capacity as well as reducing transit times and the need for temporary speed restrictions during summer, taking 13 months to complete <br />&bull&nbsp$110m for re-railing the Albury-Melbourne-Geelong line, reducing transit times and allowing it to be used by heavier trains and taking 13 months to complete <br />&bull&nbsp$32m to construct four new passing loops between Gheringhap and Maroona in Victoria and taking 16 months to complete and <br />&bull&nbsp$95m for re-railing the line between Koolyanobbing and Kalgoorlie and build two new passing loops, taking 11 months to complete. Investment is subject to ARTC concluding arrangements for access to the interstate network in Western Australia with WestNet Rail.</p><p>&nbsp</p>