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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
A national rail plan being unveiled today by Labor would preference local workers by mandating the construction of more trains within Australia in a bid to create jobs and sure-up the manufacturing sector.
Labor argues that 3000 skilled workers have been lost in the rail manufacturing industry in the last decade with a pipeline of over $100 billion already committed or planned for rail-based public transport projects across Australia over the next twenty years.
Some of these projects include the Cross River Rail in Brisbane, the Melbourne Metro, the Sydney Metro and Light Rail project as well as Perth’s Metronet and the Inland rail project.
Bill Shorten, if elected, will aim to use Council of Australian Government (COAG) meetings to secure state and territory agreement for a new blueprint called the “national rail procurement and manufacturing strategy”.
“Australia will spend more on rail in the next decade than on submarines. It’s important to get that investment right,” Mr Shorten said. “Labor’s serious about investing in rail — we’ve committed $3.7 billion to new urban rail infrastructure around the country. And we want to make sure that these funds are creating as many local jobs as possible — not flowing to overseas competitors.
“I don’t want a cent of taxpayer money creating jobs overseas. That money should be staying in Australia, making Australian products and creating Australian jobs”.
The new strategy will aim to link funding for rail projects to companies which agree to have more work undertaken in Australia instead of outsourcing construction overseas.
A new office — Office of National Rail Industry Coordination (ONRIC) — will also be established to implement the strategy and tackle the fragmented nature of the rail manufacturing sector.
The ONRIC will undertake a national audit of the adequacy of the national passenger train fleet and develop a delivery schedule for the next ten years. Labor is also promising to reinstate a Rail Supplier Advocate to help medium and small businesses secure export opportunities and establish a new Rail Industry Innovation Council to help prevent local job losses.
The pledge from Labor comes after NSW placed orders for $1.7 billion in new Waratah trains to be manufactured in China and $2.3 billion for a new fleet of intercity trains to be manufactured in Korea. Trams for the Sydney Light Rail project are also being built in Spain and France.
Fed-state deal on inland rail line
The federal budget will next week contain $300 million to duplicate the Port Botany to Enfield freight line secured in a deal with the state government, as NSW signs off on the inland rail freight line today.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Deputy Premier John Barilaro will today sign an intergovernmental agreement on the $10 billion to $12bn inland rail for NSW, handing over freight line assets in return for the federal government spending billions on the rail project.
Mr McCormack, who is also Transport and Infrastructure Minister, said yesterday the agreement meant Victoria and NSW were on board for inland rail and he was talking to Queensland about joining the project.
He said there were plans to begin work on a section of rail from Parkes to Narromine in months. Even if Labor were to win office and decide it did not want to proceed, it would find it hard to unpick the project: “It’d be worse than the east-west link in Melbourne (if Labor cancelled it).”
Mr Barilaro said the project would transform the regions.
The deal with the federal government included a commitment to fund the Port Botany line duplication and meant there would be fewer blockages when there were problems on the rail line out of Port Botany.
“Barnaby (Joyce) when he was the boss of the Nats put in the budget $10bn for the rail program,” Mr Barilaro said. “This has been decades in the making, but what does it actually mean?
“He uses this term: ‘The corridor of commerce.’ It means trucks off the road and saving haulage for freight for farmers. This is a spine for regional NSW.”
The line would also revitalise centres like Parkes and Narrabri.
NSW Freight Minister Melinda Pavey said Narrabri council had ambitions to attract the likes of Coca-Cola Amatil to the town once the rail was operating.
Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the agreement included a commitment to negotiate a long-term lease with the Australian Rail Track Corporation and protect the rail corridor.
“While construction for the Parkes to Narromine section will commence in the coming months, the agreement provides guiding principles for the delivery of new sections of inland rail, including the 307km corridor of new rail between Narromine and Narrabri,” Senator Cormann said.
Mr Barilaro said the project would reduce congestion on roads and rail and “pave the way for the development of inland ports in regional NSW”. The project would create a direct rail freight connection between Melbourne and Brisbane capable of moving double-stacked freight containers.
This article first appeared on www.theaustralian.com.au
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