ARA chairman Lindsay Tanner said the nation’s rail industry contributes millions of dollars to the economy, as well as employing more than 100,000 people across the country’s metropolitan and regional areas.
Not only this, he added, it is responsible for shifting one billion tonnes of freight each year and millions of passengers between cities.
“It is for that reason that we deserve a say in the direction we are headed,” he explained.
The main project that needs addressing is the Inland Rail, a huge infrastructure scheme that will see freight connections developed from Melbourne through to Brisbane.
Mr Tanner stated: “The Inland Rail has the potential to unblock an infrastructure bottleneck that currently sees Brisbane to Melbourne freight unnecessarily travelling through Sydney, congesting road and rail networks alike.
“With $300 million of funding already committed over four years to this vital project, the foundations are there – now more than ever we need to keep the momentum moving forward and not lose sight of this nation building project.”
As such, the ARA is calling on the newly elected government to advance the initiative appropriately and commit to continuing work on it throughout the next term of parliament.
Mr Tanner also expressed concerns over the potential of cutting funding to urban rail schemes, instead calling for greater investment in these projects to boost integration of roads, rails and ports.
Failing to provide adequate finance for rail will “put the brakes” on Australian economic development, he claimed, noting that the average passenger train takes 525 cars off the road.
This reduces carbon emissions, accidents and congestion, the chairman said.