Budget a blow to freight efficiency

The Budget delivered by Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has committed Australia’s burgeoning freight task to road transport for many years to come, with precious little new spending announced for rail freight improvements.
While the Australasian Railways Association and various infrastructure groups have welcomed the additional spending, most of the billions are earmarked for metro and urban passenger rail projects, such as $3.2 billion for a Werribee to Melbourne CBD line or the Queensland Gold Coast light rail at $365 million.
Some of these projects will assist freight rail by easing congestion on some corridors and thereby (hopefully) free up additional windows for freight trains, but by and large the projects are exclusively passenger-focused.
In contrast, a total of $12 billion has been allocated to the so-called ‘Network 1 (N1)’ road transport corridor, which stretches from Melbourne to Cairns. Of this, 3.4 billion is new money.
Not surprisingly, the Australian Trucking Association has welcomed the Budget announcements.
"Australia’s truck drivers and trucking operators will benefit from today’s Federal Budget for decades to come," the chairman of the Australian Trucking Association, Trevor Martyn, said.
“Australia’s truck drivers will be using the roads funded in tonight’s Budget for many years into the future. Our journeys will be safer and faster, with lower transport costs for businesses,” Mr Martyn said.
Rail spending in detail
  • Victorian Regional Rail Express – $3.2 billion to provide a new rail line from Werribee to Southern Cross station in Melbourne CBD.
  • Melbourne East West Rail Tunnel linking Footscray with the CBD – $40 million for pre-construction work ahead of construction commencing in 2011-12.
  • South Australia Gawler rail line modernisation and Noarlunga to Seaford rail extension – $585million and $61million to extend O-Bahn track in Adelaide.
  • Queensland Gold Coast light rail – $365 million and $20Million for planning study into potential new corridors in Brisbane.
  • $236 million towards the central city section of the Perth to Fremantle rail line $91 million for detailed design work of the Sydney West Metro – a new 25 kilometre rail line from Central Station to Westmead Hospital.
Road spending in detail
The 2009-10 Budget includes $28 billion in road projects over the six years from 2008-09 to 2013-14, with $3.4 billion to be invested in 2009-10. It features the announcement of four major new projects on Network 1, the north-south road freight corridor from Melbourne to Cairns:
  • $1.5 billion for the Hunter Expressway, which will link the F3 and the New England Highway near Branxton.
  • $618 million for the Kempsey bypass on the Pacific Highway.
  • $488 million to duplicate the Bruce Highway in Queensland between Cooroy and Curra in Queensland.
  • $884 million to continue upgrading the Ipswich Motorway in Queensland.

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