Infrastructure Audit Highlights the Urgent Need for Rail Funding
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomed the release of an Infrastructure Australia (IA) Audit Report on 22 May 2015, describing it as a timely and directional insight into Australia’s infrastructure requirements.
The landmark inquiry by the Federal Government’s independent infrastructure adviser looks into Australia’s transport, water, energy and telecommunications systems and argues that without action, congestion could cost our country $53 billion in just over 15 years with road travel times in major city corridors expected to increase by at least 20 per cent in the same period.
Interim Chairman, Bob Herbert AM, said the Report is “line ball” with ARA’s concerns about growing congestion in our cities that must be addressed by governments, federal and state, working together to underpin our transport infrastructure requirements.
“Government, with the support of the private sector, must take decisive action to meet the nation’s burgeoning infrastructure needs,” said Mr Herbert.
“Rail infrastructure underpinning passenger transport must be in place to meet population growth which, according to the Audit, will swell demand for public transport by 55 per cent in Sydney, 121 per cent in Melbourne and around 89 per cent in other capital cities.
“This is a massive challenge and it will require an imaginative approach as to how best to invest, fund and finance these infrastructure necessities.
“Most of all, planning to meet these infrastructure needs requires a collaborative approach between governments and commitments that endure their election cycles. There will be great benefit flowing to the economy from greater certainty from a well-planned, committed, Australia-wide pipeline of projects.
“The rail industry welcomes IA’s call to work together and introduce long term planning into how best to meet our infrastructure needs and the emphasis cannot only be on roads but must also extend to urban passenger rail infrastructure,” Mr Herbert said.
The ARA also supported the Report’s key findings for freight rail infrastructure, in particular the benefits of growth in modal share of rail in handling the overall freight task, expected to grow by 80 per cent by 2031.
“Rail will need to play a growing role in the movement of goods between ports and inland freight terminals, as well as the movement of containerised and general freight over longer distances; the Inland Rail must play a big part in this freight future,” continued Mr Herbert.
“Furthermore, short haul rail utilisation between ports and intermodal terminals is another key issue for rail freight infrastructure and we need the support of the Federal Government to help primary industries, such as mining and agriculture, have a greater ability to move their goods on rail reliably and competitively.
“Overall the Infrastructure Australia Audit Report is timely and makes a significant contribution to identifying Australia’s infrastructure needs. Now is the time for action,” Mr Herbert concluded.