Apr 4, 2013

Tony Abbott says ‘no’ to federal funding for urban rail

Tony Abbott has today turned his back on long suffering commuters with his announcement that if elected he would not provide any Federal money to help fix the passenger rail infrastructure in our cities.

After much ducking and weaving, Mr Abbott has again confirmed his and the Coalition’s historical opposition to Federal engagement in urban public transport, stating:

“Now the Commonwealth Government has a long history of funding roads.  We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it’s important that we stick to our knitting, and the Commonwealth’s knitting when it comes to funding infrastructure is roads.”


Such an unbalanced approach would lead to more gridlock, worsening congestion and a poorer quality of life in our cities.

As well as repudiating the need for any future Federal funding, Mr Abbott’s comments also raises serious doubts about whether he would complete the projects this Labor Government has already funded, including: the Regional Rail Link in Melbourne, the Noarlunga Rail Extension in Adelaide, the Perth City Link and Brisbane’s Moreton Bay Rail Link.

What’s more, it was funding ($40 million) provided by this Government which has enable the Victorian Government to get its Melbourne Metro project ‘shovel ready’.

While today’s announcement is extraordinary, it is not a surprising one.  The attitude towards public transport is the great divide in Australian politics between Labor and the Coalition.

All Mr Abbott has done is simply reaffirmed the Federal Coalition’s long standing antagonism towards public transport.  To them urban congestion is someone else’s problem to fix.  Let’s not forget, Mr Abbott served as a senior minister in the former Howard Government which refused to spend even one dollar on public transport infrastructure.

Only Federal Labor has a plan to keep our cities moving, one that involvements investing in both their road AND rail infrastructure.  That’s why we have doubled the Federal roads budget and committed more to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined.

A full list of the major urban rail projects Federal Labor has already funded is attached.



Federal Labor has already committed more to public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined:

  • MELBOURNE: Regional Rail Link ($3.225 billion; underway) – a new 47.5 kilometre line running from Southern Cross Station through the western suburbs of Melbourne and meeting the Geelong Line at West Werribee.
  • MELBOURNE: Melbourne Metro – $40 million towards planning, design and engineering works for a new eight kilometre, two track rail tunnel under Melbourne’s CBD to relieve congested rail lines and improve travel times.
  • ADELAIDE: Gawler Rail Line Modernisation ($293 million; partially completed) – the upgrade and electrification of some 43 kilometres of existing track, and construction of 2 new stations at Munno Para and Elizabeth.
  • ADELAIDE: Noarlunga to Seaford Rail Extension ($291 million; completed) – a 5.7 kilometre extension from Noarlunga Centre Railway Station to the Seaford District Centre, including new stations at Seaford Meadows and the Seaford District Centre.
  • ADELAIDE: Goodwood and Torrens Junctions grade separation ($232.1 million; underway) – untangling the passenger and interstate freight lines at Goodwood and Torrens.
  • GOLD COAST: Rapid Transit ($365 million; underway) – a 13 kilometre light rail network connecting Griffith University at Southport to Broadbeach which is scheduled to be built by 2014.  The first ever Federal investment in light rail.
  • PERTH: City Link ($236 million; underway) – sinking of the existing rail line through the CBD, reuniting the retail district with the Northbridge entertainment precinct and paving the way for up to $3 billion worth of private investment in new residential and commercial developments.
  • BRISBANE: Moreton Bay Rail Link ($742 million; underway) – a new 12.6 kilometre line connecting the Redcliffe Peninsula to the existing network at Petrie Station, a project proposed more than a century ago in 1895.
  • BRISBANE: CrossRiver Rail – $20 million towards a detailed feasibility and planning study to help determine the optimal route and develop a business case for a new rail tunnel through inner city Brisbane.
  • SYDNEY: Parramatta to Epping Rail Link ($2.1 billion) – a new 14 kilometres line connecting Parramatta with jobs in Macquarie Park, North Ryde, and Chatswood.
  • SYDNEY: Northern Sydney Freight Line ($840 million; underway) – untangling the passenger and freight lines by building a rail underpass at North Strathfield, laying a third track between Epping and Thornleigh, installing new passing loops near Gosford and a holding track at Hexham.
  • SYDNEY: South Sydney Freight Line ($1 billion; completed) – a new 36 kilometre dedicated Southern Sydney Freight Line, separating passenger and freight lines through Sydney’s southern suburbs.