The Moreton Bay Rail Link was the big winner after $A 133m ($US 137.9) in federal funding was brought forward from 2014-15 to 2011-12 and 2012-13. About $A 30m will be allocated towards the project this year, followed by $A 20m the following year and $A 83m the year after that.
The new 12.6km double-track line from Petrie - Kipper-Ring will form part of the Queensland Rail Citytrain network and is considered crucial to relieving congestion problems in South East Queensland. In total, the Australian government will contribute $A 742m to the $A 1.15bn project, with additional funding coming from the Queensland government which will contribute $A 300m, and the Moreton Bay Regional Council which is putting up $A 105m. Completion of the line was a major pledge of the Labor government during its election campaign.
The government has also announced that it will provide $A 25.2m over two years to establish national regulators for rail safety as well heavy vehicles and maritime safety, and for a national rail and maritime investigatory function. The government will provide $A 36m over four years to continue and strengthen the activities of Infrastructure Australia (IA) ensuring the continuing capability of IA to review national infrastructure priorities, assess projects and provide advice on infrastructure financing and reforms that promote productive investment in Australian infrastructure.
While support was secured for these initiatives, the government announced that it would defer funding totalling $A 600m for two railway infrastructure projects in Victoria and New South Wales to make cash available for the rebuilding and rehabilitation required following recent natural disasters.
Specifically $500 million for the Victorian Regional Rail Link will be held back until 2015-16, while $A 100m for the North Sydney Freight Line will be deferred until 2014-15.
The government also delayed funding for the Inland Rail Link, a 1700km line from Melbourne to Brisbane which is intended to relieve pressure on the increasingly congested freight routes through Sydney.
Work on detailed planning and land acquisition is set to begin in late 2014 along the corridor identified last year which will be funded by $A 30m to be allocated in 2014-15. The line is estimated to take eight years to build and will cost $A 4.7bn. Once completed freight transit times between Australia's second and third largest cities will be reduced to seven hours.
In response to the budget, Australasian Railway Association CEO, Mr Bryan Nye, says he is pleased by the government's provisions to improve Australian rail infrastructure. However, he stressed the importance of maintaining these commitments.
"The industry understands the need to reallocate this funding for rebuilding areas affected by recent natural disasters but I also want to stress the importance of the inland rail line not only for the freight network but also Australia's economy," Nye says. "For the future prosperity of Australia, the inland rail link must be delivered according to its new timeframe."