Engineering, Freight Rail, Passenger Rail, Rail Supply

Morrison unveils $20bn rail plan

An $8.4 billion commitment to Inland Rail and a $10 billion fund for urban rail developments are part of a $20 billion rail program featured in the Turnbull Government’s 2017-18 Budget.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the latest Federal Budget in Canberra on Tuesday night.

“To support growth we choose to invest in building Australia, rail by rail, runway by runway and road by road,” the Treasurer told Parliament.

Morrison unveiled a $75 billion infrastructure program, which also includes money to build the Western Sydney Airport.

The most significant portion of rail funding is for a $10 billion National Rail Program, with funding set aside over the next decade to help states build urban rail projects.

Projects will need a proper business case from Infrastructure Australia to access the funding.

“The Turnbull Government will establish a $10 billion National Rail Programme to deliver rail projects that provide better connections for our cities and regions and create new opportunities to grow our economy,” Morrison said.

“Projects such as Adelink, Brisbane Metro, Tullamarine Rail link, Cross River Rail in Brisbane, and the Western Sydney Airport Rail link, all have the potential to be supported through this programme, subject to a proven business case.”

He also confirmed major investment in the Inland Rail project connecting Brisbane and Melbourne via regional Queensland, NSW and Victoria.

“In one of the biggest investments ever seen in regional Australia, the Government will fund the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project with $8.4 billion in equity to be provided to the Australian Rail Track Corporation,” he outlined.

“Construction on this 1700-kilometre project will begin in 2017-18 and will support 16,000 jobs at the peak of construction. It will benefit not just Melbourne and Brisbane, but all the regions along its route.”

Infrastructure and transport minister Darren Chester expanded on the spending program, noting that the $8.4 billion Inland Rail commitment and $10 billion National Rail combined with a number of other spending measures for a total $20 billion forward-spending program for the rail industry.

“The 2017-18 Budget demonstrates this Government’s commitment to transform Australia’s passenger and freight networks to meet our growing transport needs, improve liveability and boost national productivity,” Chester said.

Along with Inland Rail and the National Rail Program, the Budget also included $500 million to upgrade Victoria’s regional rail network, $792 million to kick-start Perth’s Metronet program, $30 million towards a business case for a Melbourne Airport Rail Link, $20.2 million extra funding for the Murray Basin Rail project, and $20 million to progress business cases for faster rail connections between major cities and regional centres.

“Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List makes a clear case for the need for further investment in public transport and freight rail across Australia,” Chester added.