AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Vaile gives states the brake for AusLink II costs

<p>AusLink II would require more commitment from state governments &#8211 in terms of planning and financing &#8211 to avoid a cost blowout, transport minister Mark Vaile said yesterday (Wednesday, March 7).</p> <p>The bottom dollar on AusLink II would exceed that of its predecessor, would be based on the 24 corridor strategies currently being undertaken with the state and federal governments and would take into account the results of the North-South Rail Corridor Study, he said.</p> <p>Mr Vaile told the ABARE Outlook conference that AusLink II would need to be bigger than the present $15 bn program.</p> <p>&#8220In fact, it will be the biggest investment in land transport that any Australian government has ever made, but I have to stress that we will not be able to fund every project that has been put forward,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>Mr Vaile’s office would take a more hands-on approach to costing projects, rather than leaving it to the states and territories, he said.</p> <p>Additionally, state and territory governments will be required to contribute to the cost of all new projects, including projects on the former National Highway. </p> <p>&#8220The best way to make sure that the states and territories manage construction projects properly is to make sure that some of their own money is at stake,&#8221 Mr Vaile said.</p> <p>Federal funding would be capped at a defined dollar figure for each project, set before the project goes to tender and the cost estimate has been calculated to the 90% probability level.</p> <p>&#8220We won’t be able to fix every road and railway in Australia, but our strong economic management has put us in a position where we should be able to make a second massive investment in the transport system,&#8221 Mr Vaile said.</p> <p>Before money was allocated to new projects, AusLink II would need to include funding for a number of projects that would not be completed under the original program. </p> <p>These projects would cost more than $4bn to complete and include the F3-Branxton link on the New England Highway, the continued duplication of the Hume and Pacific highways and the Bridgewater Bridge in Tasmania.</p> <p>It would also need to include funding to continue the AusLink Roads to Recovery, Black Spot, and Strategic Regional programs.</p> <p>&#8220We will allocate the rest of the AusLink II funding based on the 24 corridor strategies that we are completing with the state and territory governments,&#8221 Mr Vaile said.</p> <p>&#8220These corridor strategies will identify the major bottlenecks and deficiencies on Australia’s major transport corridors and will set out our agreed strategic priorities for upgrading them. The corridor strategies will all be completed by June 2007.&#8221 </p> <p>The Government would also take the results of the North-South Rail Corridor Study into account. Planning on the inland railway would start during the period covered by AusLink II, the study shows.</p> <br />