THE Australian Government has committed billions of dollars to rail as part of an $A 17.9bn ($US 13.6bn) infrastructure package included in its annual budget announced ahead of the federal election in May.

The biggest rail project to benefit is the Melbourne intermodal terminal, with the government committing $A 61.8m for planning and development and up to $A 2bn for the delivery of the project, which is designed to service the southern end of the Inland Rail project. This is in addition to the $A 2bn in funding for the project announced in last year’s budget.

Other major rail projects to receive funding include:

  • $A 1.6bn for the Brisbane - Sunshine Coast (Beerwah - Maroochydore) extension
  • $A 1.121bn for the Brisbane - Gold Coast (Kuraby - Beenleigh) faster rail upgrade, and
  • $A 1bn for the Sydney - Newcastle (Tuggerah - Wyong) faster rail upgrade.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO, Ms Caroline Wilkie, says this investment will support the nation’s economic recovery and deliver long-term social and environmental benefits. Wilkie says the investment in faster rail networks will improve the speed, frequency and reliability of services, as recommended in the ARA’s Faster Rail Report.

“Highways in and out of our cities are only getting busier, which means we must invest in faster rail to support the east coast’s sustainable development,” she says.

Other smaller commitments include:

  • $A 237.5m for the removal of two level crossings and the reconstruction of Queens Park and Cannington stations on the inner Armadale Line of Perth’s Metronet network
  • $A 178.08m to undertake pre-construction activities to upgrade the 19km Kuraby - Beenleigh section the Gold Coast Light Rail network
  • $A 126.6m to undertake pre-construction activities on Stage 3 of the Gold Coast light rail network, which will deliver a 6.7km extension south of the existing network
  • $A 132.5m for Canberra Light Rail - Stage 2A, which will extend the network 1.7km from Canberra City to Commonwealth Park with three new stations
  • $A 180.1m to establish the Regional Level Crossing Safety Program to upgrade crossings as well as an education and research programme, and
  • $A 60m to upgrade and electrify the Salisbury - Gawler line in Adelaide and the installation of a new signalling system and related equipment.

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