Federal Budget 2024-2025: More than $1 billion for resilient and reliable rail infrastructure

Australasian Railway Association

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed more than $1 billion in critical investment from the Australian Government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to improve the resilience and reliability of essential national rail infrastructure.

This funding is part of the Australian Government’s $13.2 billion investment in nationally significant rail projects under the Infrastructure Investment Program over the next four years.

ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the $540 million Commonwealth investment, announced in yesterday’s Federal Budget 2024-2025, combined with a $500 million investment from the ARTC into its Network Investment Program, follows extensive advocacy by the ARA and rail freight stakeholders for investment in the nation’s ageing rail infrastructure.

“The ARA welcomes the decision to invest over $1 billion to upgrade critical sections of the 8,500-kilometre national rail network to help ensure the safe, reliable and efficient delivery of commercial goods to support businesses and families,” Ms Wilkie said.

“This announcement recognises the critical role rail plays in supporting a strong national supply chain and the great economic and environmental benefits of having a more reliable and resilient network and getting more freight onto rail.

“Repeated severe weather events, particularly flooding, have had a major impact on rail freight and passenger services and resulted in significant disruptions to our national supply chain, with washouts on the east-west rail line alone costing the economy $320 million in 2022.

“The ARA would also like to commend the dedication of the ARTC and the Australian Government to improving our national rail infrastructure and working with industry to identify the most critical projects. We hope to see both the Commonwealth and State governments continue to invest in resilient and reliable rail infrastructure to ensure we can move more people and freight by rail.”

The $540 million investment from the Australian Government will include $140 million for culvert upgrades to increase flood resilience from one-in-100-year to one-in-13-year events in SA, WA and NSW, $100 million for the replacement of 47kg rail with 60kg rail to support larger trains between Tarcoola and Kalgoorlie in WA, $150 million for track rehabilitation and operational upgrades between Albury and Sydney and $150 million for the upgrade of the Maroona to Portland Line in Victoria.

“It is very pleasing to see the Australian Government acknowledge the significant impact that increasingly frequent extreme weather events have had on our national rail network. This essential investment will help ensure our supply chains keep moving when our communities need it most.”

Rail currently contributes up to 56 per cent of the national freight task and is forecast to meet almost three quarters of the growth in demand over the next decade.

The ARA also welcomes the Federal Government’s investment of $1.4 billion towards the 72km Metronet project in Perth, $50 million towards designing Stage 2B of the Canberra light rail and an additional $1.15 billion for the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line in Queensland.

“Research shows investment in rail projects future-proof communities along the rail corridor, delivering economic, social, safety and environmental benefits, along with thousands of new jobs and affordable homes,” Ms Wilkie said.

/Public Release.