May 10, 2011

Inland Rail Finally Out Of The Station

Inland Rail Finally Out Of The Station

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Federal Member for Grayndler

May 10 2011

The Gillard Labor Government has fulfilled yet another pre-election infrastructure pledge, with the 2011-12 Budget providing funding to complete the tasks necessary to prepare the way for construction of a new rail line connecting Brisbane to Melbourne via the Central West of NSW.

First conceived over a century ago, the initial funding committed in Labor’s fourth budget to the Inland Rail Link project – $300 million including $30 million in 2014-15 – will allow the detailed planning work and necessary lands resumptions to begin in late 2014 along the corridor identified last year.

Ultimately stretching 1,700 kilometres, the rail line would relieve pressure on the existing, increasingly congested coastal line through Sydney as well as reduce by up to 7 hours the time it takes to transport freight by rail between the nation’s second and third biggest cities.

It would also deliver new jobs and economic opportunities to communities throughout inland Queensland, NSW and Victoria including Toowoomba, Moree, Narromine, Parkes, Wagga Wagga and Albury.

Costing approximately $4.7 billion and taking over eight years, construction of the line will involve upgrading 430 kilometres of existing track and laying 600 kilometres of new track – see attached map.

From the outset the modernisation of the interstate rail freight network has been central the Gillard Labor Government’s broader efforts to lift productivity, curb harmful carbon emissions and take the pressure off the nation’s highways.

Put simply, we want more freight on the back of trains.

Beyond the Inland Rail Link project, we’ve allocated $3.4 billion over the life of the current Nation Building Program to rebuild 3,771 kilometres of existing track and lay 235 kilometres of new track, the most extensive capital works program in generations – see attached map.

This year alone, work will commence on re-railing and re-sleepering the 239 kilometres line between Albury, Melbourne and Geelong as well as upgrading the old bridges it crosses.

At the other end of the construction cycle, the following upgrades are expected to be completed over the next 12 months:

• Replacing all the old timber and steel sleepers with one million new concrete sleepers along the 691 kilometre line between Broken Hill and Parkes – Federal contribution: $253 million;

• Reducing the severity of the curves at some 58 locations between Newcastle and the Queensland border by realigning the existing track, improvements which will allow trains to run at higher speeds – Federal contribution: $170 million;

• Extending seven existing passing loops on the line between Melbourne and Adelaide – Federal contribution: $76 million.

Of the 32 major upgrades scheduled to be delivered across the interstate rail network by the end of the current Program in 2013-14, 13 are already completed and 11 are under construction.

When compared to our predecessors’ record, this Labor Government is investing twice as much in half the time to renew this vital national asset – and despite having 12 years to act and the record tax revenues to pay for it, the Liberal and National Parties chose to do nothing to progress the Inland Rail Link.

As well as investing in Australia’s immediate infrastructure needs, the Gillard Labor Government is also planning for the nation’s future. That’s why we’ve commissioned a $20 million feasibility study to determine the route, costs, economic merits and financial viability of a high speed rail network along Australia’s east coast.