In the letter, Interim Chairman Bob Herbert AM stated he was disappointed to not see rail feature prominently on the Federal Government’s policy agenda over the past year and it was therefore imperative to the rail industry that the ARA’s outlined priorities be pursued in future budgets.
“We’ve outlined to Government the importance of creating jobs and economic growth from continued investment in critical rail infrastructure and services throughout Australia by strengthening our freight networks; delivering major urban rail passenger projects; and supporting local manufacturers, suppliers and contractors in the sector,” said Mr Herbert.
“For rail freight, the single most important project in this budget and the next is Inland Rail; a critical piece of rail infrastructure that connects Melbourne to Brisbane, enhancing freight movement along Australia’s east coast,” he said.
In its key platforms manifesto, the ARA stated it wants certainty on the project’s future through a clear and significant funding commitment across the Forward Estimates from the 2016/17 Budget. It also called for a clearer implementation timeframe and a spending commitment for the existing $300 million toward detailed planning, land acquisition, community consultation and exploration of regional freight rail links.
The ARA also outlined the key priorities of the nation’s passenger rail and manufacturing industries, both of which currently rely heavily on funding from the states but need support from the Federal Government to prosper.
“State governments cannot be expected to solely foot the bill for passenger rail infrastructure needs of our cities. Their future productivity and liveability depends on Federal Government investment in an integrated transport system. This investment will meet the challenges of rising traffic congestion, increasing costs of living and growing carbon emissions in Australia’s cities,” he said.
The ARA specifically called for Federal Government co-funding (with state and local governments) of light and heavy passenger rail projects, such as the Melbourne Metro Rail and Brisbane’s Cross River Tunnel; and the continued use of asset recycling for public transport, such as Capital Metro light rail.
“Our final platform focusses on the priorities of the suppliers, manufacturers and contractors of the rail industry, who need support from the Federal Government through programs that help to foster innovation and job creation in our local rail sector and assist with forming alliances, partnerships, joint ventures and the like,” continued Mr Herbert.
“The rail industry eagerly awaits this year’s Federal Budget announcement and look forward to progressing these important priorities to ensure a stronger future for rail,” Mr Herbert concluded.