May 09, 2017

Inland Rail draws $8.4b federal funding pledge

Inland Rail draws $8.4b federal funding pledge

The Federal Government has committed to finance the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project by a combination of an additional $8.4 billion equity investment in the Australian Rail Track Corporation and a public-private partnership for the most complex elements of the project.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said the Inland Rail would provide a high-capacity freight link between Melbourne and Brisbane through regional Australia to better connect  products to domestic and international markets.

The project is expected to sustain thousands of jobs, with up to 16,000 direct and indirect jobs to be supported at the peak of construction.

Mr Chester said the 126km section from Toowoomba to Kagaru, including large scale tunnelling, would be delivered through a public-private partnership.

Under this delivery arrangement, the private sector will design, build, finance and maintain this section of the railway over a long-term concession period.

The government has previously committed almost $900 million towards planning and land acquisition for the Inland Rail – the biggest Commonwealth rail construction project since the transcontinental rail link across the Nullabor was finished 100 years ago.

The Australian Logistics Council said infrastructure investments contained in tonight’s Federal Budget had the potential to deliver substantial improvements to supply chain efficiency and significantly boost economic growth.

“The Government should be commended for making clear commitments to two significant infrastructure projects crucial to the freight and logistics industry,” ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff said.

ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff.

“The transformative potential of the Inland Rail project has been talked about for decades, with incremental progress being made over the past several years, including a positive assessment of the business case by Infrastructure Australia.

“The $8.4 billion commitment announced in the Treasurer’s speech tonight will finally allow its construction. At long last, we can stop merely talking about this project’s potential, and instead begin to witness it.”

He said the commitment of $5.3 billion to construct the Western Sydney Airport and the $75 million to duplicate the Port Botany freight rail line likewise brought to fruition critical freight infrastructure projects that would further support economic activity and job creation.

“The Budget’s strong focus on infrastructure is timely, coming less than six months after the Federal Government agreed to ALC’s request to develop a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. We welcome the measures announced tonight as a positive first step in continuing efforts to deliver a safer, more efficient supply chain. The importance of this is made clear by the industry views outlined in a recent ALC Working Paper,” he said.

“It’s also pleasing that Infrastructure Australia has been provided with an additional $11.9 million to deliver its core functions of assessing projects and producing an infrastructure pipeline.”