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The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has expressed serious concern over the Coalition opposition’s continuous support of upgrading and building new roads whilst ignoring the needs of rail.
ARA CEO Bryan Nye said he was disappointed in the short-sighted, quick-fix approach the Coalition opposition is promoting as its solution to address state-based infrastructure issues, with Tony Abbott announcing a commitment of $6.7 billion to fix the Bruce Highway.
“Australia as a nation is facing increasingly serious economic, social and environmental problems with traffic congestion clogging our roads, transport emissions choking our urban environment, fuel prices spiking and the continued growth of our major cities,” said Mr Nye.
“The Coalition opposition’s continued band-aid approach of throwing money at building, expanding and duplicating roads will not address any of the national issues that are affecting all Australians.
“Australia needs to invest in an integrated transport system that links our roads, rail and ports.
“How can our supply chain operate effectively when only one link is being utilised? Choosing to only invest in roads will see more cars and trucks on our roads and is not the long term solution Australia needs,” said Mr Nye.
“The average passenger train can take 525 cars off the road, the focus needs to shift to finding solutions for the bigger-picture problems.
“Tony Abbott has blocked funding for major rail projects in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland – Australia’s most congested states – because the Coalition opposition has ‘no history of funding urban rail projects’.
“This short sighted, old-fashioned approach to infrastructure funding will stifle productivity and efficiency in the transport sector and ultimately disadvantage the Australian people.
“By committing this money to the upgrade of the Bruce Highway, Mr Abbott is turning his back on other Queensland infrastructure projects like the Brisbane Cross River Rail, a project endorsed by Infrastructure Australia in its National Infrastructure Plan and set to increase public transport capacity by around 30 per cent to inner Brisbane, that’s nearly 120,000 people,” said Mr Nye.
“Leaving public transport solely to the states whilst continuing to fund road projects makes no sense- there is simply no way to coordinate, prioritise and build the public transport our cities need without involvement at a federal level,” Mr Nye concluded.
On the other side of the political divide, the federal government has joined the ARTC in announcing the completion of the final 15 kilometres in the 711-kilometre program to upgrade a section of track from South Australia to New South Wales.
The re-railing is the final part of a $288 million program to upgrade the interstate rail network between Parkes and Cootamundra, and Broken Hill and Whyalla.
The re-railing program has seen 47 kg/m rail replaced with heavier, stronger 60kg/m rail which will help heavier, more efficient trains use the rail corridor.
“The productivity improvements include reduced maintenance and train operating costs, better track reliability and improved transit times,” Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) CEO John Fullerton said.
“Trains running on the Sydney to Perth corridor will benefit from the improved punctuality and reduced congestion due to the re-railing upgrades as well as recent concrete re-sleepering works, in one of the busiest interstate freight corridors in the country.”
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