The recommendations from individual state budgets are always anticipated with keen interest, with key industries across Australia often impacted. In promising indications for the country’s railway sector, several of the budgets released this month demonstrate a healthy commitment to boosting all-important rail infrastructure.
Here we take a look at the states that declared the biggest investments in rail, and what their projects entail
Victoria shines public transport spotlight on rail
In releasing its 2014-15 state budget, the Victorian government has decided to dedicate a sizeable $24 billion kitty towards improving the state’s public transport – with over half of this funding specifically allotted to rail.
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder announced that the government would be investing a record $15 billion in the rail components of the state’s public transport network. This will encompass major projects such as a new metropolitan rail tunnel, new railway stations and bus services, and the much anticipated rail link connecting Melbourne Airport to the heart of the CBD.
It is clear that of these projects, the Melbourne rail link is garnering the majority of the attention, with Mr Mulder outlining in detail the steps in the project.
“Our flagship public transport project, the $8.5 – $11 billion Melbourne rail link, will reduce delays, improve reliability and boost capacity across the network by up to 30 per cent,” he stated.
“The Melbourne Rail Link will be the biggest investment ever in our metropolitan rail network.”
According to Mr Mulder, the rail link will include two 7.5 km tunnels from Southern Cross to South Yarra, new underground stations and platforms at a variety of vital hubs, train-tram interchanges and, of course, the airport rail link. Treasurer Michael O’Brien confirmed that parts of the rail link will be delivered through a Public Private Partnership, with funding coming from both the government and the public sector.
Meanwhile, Australasian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye commended the Victorian government’s commitment to much-needed rail investment.
“People will be able to travel on the new electrified rail link between Southern Cross Station and Melbourne Airport every 10 minutes in peak hours and reach their destination in approximately 25 minutes, if that is not efficient public transport I don’t know what is,” he stated.
Airport rail link to give Western Australia wings
The Western Australian government has also identified the importance of extensive rail infrastructure, especially one connecting the city centre to other parts of Australia and the wider world. As such, its state budget highlights a $2 billion construction project to build a rail link from Perth CBD to the airport. One of the key points from the budget is that the government plans to deliver the project without the help of federal government funding.
The new rail link will stretch from Forrestfield to Perth Airport, promising to reduce congestion and slash travel time to 20 minutes.
In addition, $360 million will be dedicated to the Perth City Link rail project, which is slated for completion this year. The funding will allow the government to procure more than 20 new rail cars, boosting the existing fleet by more than 25 per cent.
According to Mr Nye, these investment are crucial given that Perth is Australia’s fastest growing city, and an efficient transport network is a must-have to meet the demands of a growing population.
“The Western Australian government has today demonstrated a strategic and long-term approach to the planning and development of its increasingly congested capital city, by implementing these urban rail projects that are guaranteed to improve the public transport system and transform the city for the better,” Mr Nye concluded.
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