The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed new rail funding and investment in safety, skills and training initiatives in tonight’s Federal Budget as the industry continues to support the nation’s economic growth and recovery.
The ARA welcomed the Budget’s recognition of the importance of rail freight to the nation’s supply chain, with a range of new funding initiatives including the $3.1 billion Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package, additional funding for Inland Rail works and a commitment to tranche four of the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Program.
Funding for a business case to evaluate the upgrade of the Maroona to Portland Port Rail Line in Victoria was also welcomed.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said greater use of rail was crucial to support the nation’s growing freight task and maximise the benefits of the Inland Rail project.
“Moving more freight on rail delivers tangible environmental and safety benefits for the wider community,” Ms Wilkie said.
“Rail will meet three quarters of growing freight demand over the next decade, supporting strong supply chains for the long term.”
The ARA also commended $180 million in new funding to establish the Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program to improve level crossing safety in regional Australia.
Ms Wilkie said there are more than 23,000 level crossings in Australia and funding for initiatives that assess and improve level crossing safety and support education and awareness was welcome news for the industry and those living in the regions.
Ms Wilkie said the Government’s $954 million Australian Apprenticeship Incentive System and an additional $365 million to extend support to employers taking on and retraining new apprentices would deliver help address one of the most critical issues facing the industry.
“Rail is already in the grip of skills shortages for current projects and there is a critical need to attract, train and develop outstanding talent in our industry to support its long term growth.”
The ARA’s Skills Capability Study predicted workforce gaps of up to 70,000 skilled workers by 2023, with some areas of specialisation already experiencing shortages.
Funding for key passenger rail projects including the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast rail extension, the Sydney to Newcastle and Brisbane to Gold Coast faster rail upgrades and the METRONET project in Western Australia were welcome investments in the rail network.
“At a time when we want passengers to return to rail, investments like these will ensure rail continues to be a transport mode of choice and supports the sustainability and liveability of our communities in the long term,” Ms Wilkie said.
Key rail funding announcements confirmed in the 2022-23 Federal Budget included:
- $1.6 billion for the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast (Beerwah to Maroochydore) rail extension, QLD
- $1.121 billion for the Brisbane to Gold Coast (Kuraby to Beenleigh) faster rail upgrade, QLD
- $1 billion for the Sydney to Newcastle (Tuggerah to Wyong) faster rail upgrade, NSW
- $150 million Brisbane Metro – Woolloongabba Station, QLD
- $135 million for the METRONET: Thornlie-Cockburn Link, WA
- $116 million for the METRONET: High Capacity Signalling, WA
- $100 million for the METRONET: Morrison Road Level Crossing Removal, VIC
- $90 million for the METRONET: Yanchep Rail Extension, WA
- $50 million Perth CBD Transport Plan – Swan River Bridge, WA
- $32 million Commuter Car Park Upgrade – T1 North Shore, Northern and Western Line – Kingswood, NSW (additional funding for existing projects)
- $18 million Commuter Car Park Upgrade – Frankston Line – Kananook, VIC
- $12.5 million Commuter Car Park Upgrades – Hampton, VIC (additional funding for existing projects)
- $13.2 million Commuter Car Park Upgrade – Woy Woy, NSW (additional funding for existing projects)
- $8.3 million Commuter Car Park Upgrade – Panania, NSW (additional funding for existing projects)
- $1.5 million Inner Canberra Corridor Planning Package, VIC
Intermodal facilities and freight rail
- $3.1 billion in new commitments to deliver the $3.6 billion Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package, VIC
- $300 million for the Grade Separating Interfaces Program to fund new grade separations in New South Wales along the Inland Rail route
- $178 million for the Pinjarra Heavy Haulage Deviation – Stages 1 and 2, WA
- $150.0 million for the Inland Rail Interface Improvement Program
- $96 million for the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Program – Tranche 4, TAS
- $60 million for the Targeted Investments to Improve National Supply Chain Resilience, SA
- $22.4 million Mid West Secondary Freight Network, WA
- $14.4 million for the Melba Line Bulk Minerals Rail Hub, TAS
- $6.4 million Great Southern Secondary Freight Network, WA
- $180.1 million to establish the Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program and support activities under the National Railway Level Crossing Safety Strategy to improve level crossing safety in regional Australia. This funding includes:
- $160.0 million for upgrades to level crossings
- $6.5 million to deliver a national level crossing safety education and awareness campaign
- $5 million to support research into and trials of new level crossing technologies and safety measures
- $2 million for improved data collection and risk assessment for level crossings.
Education and skills
- $954.0 million over 5 years from 2021-22 to introduce a new Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System from 1 July 2022, providing support to employers and apprentices in priority occupations
- $365.3 million to extend the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements and Completing Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidies by 3 months to 30 June 2022, to further support employers taking on and retaining new apprentices
- $2.8 million in 2022-23 to increase apprenticeship In-Training Support by an additional 2,500 places for young Australians aged 15-20 years
- $247.1 million over 5 years from 2021-22 (and $0.3 million per year ongoing) to support increased private sector investment in low emissions technologies including hydrogen.
Planning and business cases
- $77.5 million for a business case for Stage 2 of the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport line, NSW
- $22.5 million for Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games 2023 business case development, QLD
- $5 million Western Sydney Freight Line and Intermodal Terminal Strategic Business Case, NSW