A re-elected Rudd Labor Government will prioritise completing the necessary preparations so construction of the remaining sections of the Inland Rail Link can commence as soon as possible, with further detailed planning, environmental assessments, and land acquisitions to begin within twelve months.
Already we have done much to progress this vital project. Over the past five years, we have invested almost $600 million rebuilding the existing track that will eventually form around 60 per cent of the final Inland Rail link, including upgrades around Melbourne, Albury, Cootamundra and Parkes.
The additional pre-construction work along the rest of the corridor will be funded from the $300 million set aside in the Budget’s Forward Estimates.
Once operational, this new 1,731 kilometre line connecting Brisbane to Melbourne via the NSW Central West will cut up to seven hours off the time it takes to transport freight between these two capital cities.
It will also take trucks off our highways, ease the growing congestion along the existing coastal line through Sydney, and open up new economic opportunities for inland communities such as Toowoomba, Moree, Narromine, Parkes, Wagga Wagga and Albury.
First conceived more than a century ago, it took the election of Federal Labor in late 2007 to breathe life into the project. We are the first ever national government to commit to building this new rail line with real money to make it happen.
By comparison, my National Party predecessors in the former Howard Government made an art form out of inaction. They never committed any money for construction nor upgrade or laid one metre of track.
If you value rail and want to see this nation building project completed, then you’ve got to vote Labor. When it comes to rail infrastructure, Labor always delivers more than the Liberal and National Parties.
From the outset, the modernisation of the Interstate Rail Freight Network has been central to this Federal Labor Government’s broader efforts to lift national productivity, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and get more freight off our highways and onto the back of trains.
Beyond the Inland Rail project, Federal Labor has invested billions rebuilding more than a third of the Network – or almost 4,000 kilometres of track. In fact it has been the most extensive upgrade in almost a century, involving 52 major projects across the country.