The federal government has supported a report that encourages the prioritisation of freight by rail and faster rail connections within and between cities and regions.
The Building Up & Moving Out report, released in 2018 by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities makes a number of recommendations relating to rail transport. Specifically, the report recommends that the federal government develop a fast rail or high-speed rail network between urban centres, create a more sustainable public transport network, and prioritise a national freight network with a focus on the movement of freight by rail.
In its response to the report, published in May 2020, the Australian government agreed in principle to the rail-related recommendations. The government highlighted its 20-Year Faster Rail Plan and the establishment of the National Faster Rail Agency as working towards connecting communities with rail.
In responding to the report’s recommendations on freight, the government highlighted the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, as well as the government’s investment in Inland Rail.
Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Caroline Wilkie welcomed the government’s response, highlighting the recognition of the value of Australia’s rail network.
“We have seen during this current pandemic how important our freight networks are and rail is a crucial part of that,” said Wilkie.
“It is good to see the inquiry’s emphasis on rail and we support the recommendation to separate freight and passenger movements where possible to make our rail networks the most efficient they can be.
Wilkie also noted the government’s stated commitment to connect Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane with their satellite cities in the next 20 years.
“The Government’s response recognises that faster rail will make it easier for people living in regional centres to connect to work and other opportunities in their capital city,” said Wilkie.