Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the upgrading projects would ensure rail's longevity in Tasmania by eliminating some of the failure points across the network, increasing safety, reliability and transit times and supporting the future growth and competitiveness of rail freight.
“Now TasRail can get on with building these vital projects, sustaining jobs and creating much needed economic activity in Tasmania, with funds flowing according to agreed milestones,” Mr Truss said.
“At the moment there are mining regions with high volume potential that are affected by ageing and failing infrastructure, such as the Melba Line in western Tasmania.
“Critical works such as sleeper and rail replacement, upgrades to rail bridges and culverts, level crossing upgrades and remediation of land slips will improve many of the sections across Tasmania's freight lines where there is a high risk of line failure that would spell costly delays for freight.
“Without action, Tasmania's rail freight network would soon deteriorate beyond repair, forcing all freight on to roads resulting in higher costs and consequently less cross modal competition for freight tasks.
“This could erode the commercial viability and economic benefits of the State's high tonnage industries such as the cement and paper industries, where large volumes must be transported to port.
“We are committed to Tasmania's long term commercial viability, which is clearly evident through our improvements to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme and our investments in the Midland Highway and the Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Package.”
The Australian Government has committed $59.8 million over four years to 2018–19 for the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation project, with the Tasmanian Government providing matching funding.
Should Tasmania bring forward a proposal for further capital works on the rail network, supported by a matched funding commitment, the Australian Government will provide a further $59.8 million through future Budget processes.