Freight Rail, Passenger Rail

Rail projects identified as priority for investment

An unprecedented demand for infrastructure has led to a major rail project being added to the Infrastructure Australia Priority List.

Often described as a catalyst for investment, the independent infrastructure body’s Priority List now includes Sydney-Canberra rail connectivity and capacity.

The project joins other high priority rail projects such as Sydney Metro: City and Southwest, priority projects such as Inland Rail and the Beerburrum to Nambour rail upgrade.

Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A has graduated from Priority Initiative to priority project, reflecting the project’s move towards construction.

The report identifies the need for continued investment in rail infrastructure, said Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO, Caroline Wilkie.

“The ARA supports the record investment being made by State and Commonwealth Governments into rail.  This report highlights the benefits of continuing that investment and that the current levels of infrastructure investment need to be the new norm.”

High priority initiatives include the Network Optimisation Program for rail, corridor preservation for East Coast High Speed Rail, Sydney Metro West, Port Botany freight rail duplication, corridor preservation for Western Sydney airport and freight rail connections, and a number of other projects around the country.

Adding Sydney-Canberra rail connectivity to the priority list will go towards making rail competitive with other passenger modes, said Wilkie.

“The ARA supports the record investment being made by State and Commonwealth Governments into rail.  This report highlights the benefits of continuing that investment and that the current levels of infrastructure investment need to be the new norm.”

While the projects range from identifying a business case to projects in the process of construction, Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romily Madew highlighted that the nation had a great demand for infrastructure.

“Compounding issues of unprecedented infrastructure demand, severe drought and other environmental changes, require a focus on our resilience strategies and a consensus on where to invest now for our nation’s future prosperity,” she said.

The total infrastructure pipeline is worth over $58 billion, and the Australian Logistics Council welcomed the focus on rail infrastructure in the 2020 list.

“Infrastructure Australia’s rigorous, independent assessment process means governments, investors and the wider community can have confidence that investing in the projects and initiatives contained on the list will address genuine economic and social needs,” said Australian Logistics Council CEO, Kirk Coningham.

“The National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, first included on the list in 2016, is an obvious example. ALC is pleased the Strategy remains as a High Priority Initiative on this year’s list, with a renewed focus underscoring the importance of its implementation phase.”

For freight rail operators, the focus on expanding port capacities down the east coast could create greater demand for containerised freight movements and intermodal terminals, said Port of Newcastle CEO, Craig Carmody.

“While IA correctly notes that no Australian port can accommodate the larger, more energy-efficient ships carrying more than 14,000 TEUs, it is also critical to examine the constraints to existing road and rail infrastructure in handling the nation’s current and future trade volumes,” he said.

Send this to a friend