The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed funding to establish a National Rail Manufacturing Plan as part of tonight’s Federal budget.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the $14.2 million commitment to establish a National Rail Manufacturing Plan would help further build Australia’s rail manufacturing sector.
“A national focus for local manufacturing is essential to strengthen the Australian rail supply chain as the industry prepares for significant growth over the coming decade,” Ms Wilkie said.
“The experience of COVID-19 has highlighted the value of a productive and efficient local supply chain.
“Tonight’s funding provides an opportunity to build on the significant rail manufacturing capability that exists in Australia to establish a strong focus on the innovation and technology that will be required to meet our future infrastructure needs.”
The funding would also support the establishment of an Office of National Rail Industry Coordination with the Department of Industry, Science and Resources and reinstatement of a Rail Supplier Advocate.
More than 4000 jobs are created by rollingstock manufacturing and repair in Australia, with many of those located in regional centres.
Ms Wilkie said a national approach to rail manufacturing would help drive innovation as the country delivers a once-in-a-generation period of infrastructure investment.
“The global rail technology market generates $362 million per year and the current wave of infrastructure investment presents a unique opportunity for Australia to increase its share of this growing industry,” Ms Wilkie said.
Ms Wilkie said the ARA looks forward to working with the Department as these critical initiatives are implemented.
The new funding announced tonight built on previously announced infrastructure investments in key rail projects.
The Federal Government will provide $2.2 billion for the Suburban Rail Loop, a critical rail project that will improve travel efficiency for 80 per cent of Melburnians.
The Budget also allocated $500 million for planning, corridor acquisition and early works for the Sydney to Newcastle High Speed Rail and $18 million for the establishment of the High Speed Rail Authority.
Ms Wilkie said the continued investment in key rail projects reflected the important role rail will play in supporting Australia’s growth and development.
“This funding will support critical projects to help meet the demands of growing populations in Melbourne, Sydney and their surrounding regions,” Ms Wilkie said.
“It is pleasing to see a continued focus on investing in projects that will deliver substantial and long term economic and community benefits.”
Funding of $85.9 million was confirmed for Canberra Light Rail Stage 2A.
The ARA also welcomed new funding for safety regulation in the tourist and heritage rail sector.