The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment to key rail projects as part of its $10 billion infrastructure funding announcement today in advance of the upcoming Federal budget.
The Federal Government has announced $2.2 billion to support Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop and $500 million for the High Speed Rail Authority to start the corridor acquisition in NSW for high speed rail connections between Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle.*
ARA Chief Executive Caroline Wilkie said the rail industry welcomed this targeted investment to support better transport options in the regions.
“The ARA’s 2021 Faster Rail Report found almost 10 million additional people will live in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane by 2060, and faster rail services will be essential to support this growth,” Ms Wilkie said.
”Today’s funding for the High Speed Rail Authority and early corridor planning in NSW, provides a strong boost for faster rail in Australia.”
The ARA’s report outlined that targeted investment would enable rail travel times on regional lines to compete with road and make choosing rail as a transport mode of choice a much more realistic option.
The report found highways in and out Sydney were already reaching capacity and faster rail would be needed to support future growth in the regions and avoid traffic gridlock.
Faster rail could reduce rail travel times between Sydney and Newcastle to just two hours while also improving the frequency and reliability of services, making catching the train a strong alternative to driving.
Ms Wilkie said that as we transition to a more decentralised and carbon conscious economy, faster rail will be critical in providing an alternative travel solution between regions and cities – one that is more efficient, safer and better for the environment than travelling by road.
“A coordinated, national approach is required to deliver faster, more reliable, and more frequent rail services and it is great to see the Federal Government committing to the next step in this process by committing more funding for corridor preservation.”
The ARA also welcomed the $2.2 billion investment to help fund Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop.
Ms Wilkie said today’s funding announcement provided further certainty for the project.
“This project is expected to create up to 24,000 jobs during construction, and will deliver enormous social, environmental and jobs creation benefits for all Victorians,” Ms Wilkie said.
“The Suburban Rail Loop is a transformational project for Victoria’s public transport system and will improve travel efficiency for more than 80 per cent of Melburnians.
“It will be particularly beneficial for people living in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and surrounding regions, providing easy access to essential services without the need to travel to the CBD.
“We look forward to seeing the project progress, together with the development of transport super hubs in Clayton, Broadmeadows and Sunshine to maximise the broader social and economic benefits of the project.”
*This has been updated to reflect the true funding figure for the High Speed Rail Authority.