July 03, 2013

Rail accounts for $A 30bn of Infrastructure Australia priority project list

Written by  Mark Carter
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Brisbane’s Cross River Rail suburban network project is the only rail project on IA's list which is classed as "ready to proceed". Brisbane’s Cross River Rail suburban network project is the only rail project on IA's list which is classed as "ready to proceed".

WHILE welcoming the release of the annual National Infrastructure Plan by federal government advisory body, Infrastructure Australia (IA), the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is asking for greater recognition of rail's larger, long term projects.

The National Infrastructure Plan is a continuous process that outlines the major infrastructure reforms and projects that are required for a more productive Australia over the next 50 years.

Over $A 30bn ($US 27.52bn) of rail-related projects have been nominated for consideration and possible federal funding, with projects rated from "early stages" through to "ready to proceed." The list is dependent on submissions received from all levels of government and the private sector.

Some of the major rail projects included in this year's priority list are:

• Sydney light rail - $A 1. 6bn

• Perth Airport rail line - $A 2bn

• Perth rapid transit - $A 1.88bn

• Mount Isa to Townsville corridor upgrade - $A 575m

• NSW Automatic Train Protection system - $A 1.2bn

• Melbourne Metro $A 9-11bn

While supporting the report, the ARA feels it needs to provide greater recognition of key future national projects such as inland and high-speed rail, neither of which has yet made it onto the priority list. It also believes that there needs to be less of a focus on the funding of roads.

At present only the Brisbane Cross River Rail project for the city's suburban network, which is estimated to cost around $A 4.4bn, is classed as "ready to proceed."

However, tight fiscal conditions along with statements earlier this year by federal opposition leader Mr Tony Abbott that his government, should it win September's election, is not interested in funding urban rail schemes, means there is unlikely to be an early start for many of these projects.

ARA CEO Bryan Nye stressed the need for all sides of parliament to support the role IA plays in the country's infrastructure development.

"ARA has long argued for greater quality and efficiency of infrastructure spending and encouraging public transparency, which will help with the planning and delivery of our infrastructure over the next 50 years," Nye says. "The ARA has also advocated greater innovation in infrastructure funding in order to create an environment where private investments, such as Superannuation Funds, are welcomed."

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