The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed the $17.9 billion infrastructure investment for new and existing infrastructure projects in this week’s Federal Budget.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said more than $3.7 billion in new funding for passenger rail as part of this investment would support the nation’s economic recovery and deliver long term social and environmental benefits.
The ARA welcomed funding for faster rail upgrades as part of the announcement, including $1.121 billion for Brisbane to the Gold Coast (Kuraby to Beenleigh) and $1 billion for Sydney to Newcastle (Tuggerah to Wyong).
Ms Wilkie said the investment in faster rail networks would 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,” Ms Wilkie said.
“Faster rail will enable rail travel times on regional rail lines to better compete with road, making it a more desirable and sustainable travel option.
“This will help avoid traffic gridlock and reduce transport-related emissions as populations rise.
“At a time when petrol prices are at record levels, this investment in faster rail will support regional economies and be good news for the many people thinking about a move from the city after the pandemic.”
The ARA also welcomed a $1.6 billion allocation for a rail extension from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast (Beerwah to Maroochydore).
Ms Wilkie said the extension would strengthen public transport connections between Brisbane and this key regional centre.