IA prioritises major road and rail projects

Murray Basin Rail and Bringelly Road put at high level

IA prioritises major road and rail projects
Paul Fletcher is keen on all three projects


The nation's independent infrastructure advisor Infrastructure Australia has today added three major projects to its Infrastructure Priority List.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher said Infrastructure Australia had completed its assessments of the business cases for the Murray Basin Rail and Bringelly Road Stage 2 Projects, and the Melbourne Metro Project.

"The Murray Basin Rail Project and Bringelly Road Upgrade Stage 2 are now regarded as Priority Projects by Infrastructure Australia, and the Melbourne Metro a High Priority Project," Fletcher says.

"The Australian Government has committed $220 million to the Murray Basin Rail Project which will give farmers from the region access to Victoria's ports in a more efficient and cost competitive way.

"The Murray Basin Rail Project will help address capacity constraints on the existing freight rail network, which includes standardising rail gauges along the route, as well as increasing axle loadings to 21 tonnes to allow trains to run at full capacity.

"In addition, we are also delivering major upgrades through the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan including the $509 million Bringelly Road upgrade.

"The Australian Government has committed $407 million to this upgrade, which is being delivered in two stages.

"The Australian government welcomes the Victorian government's commitment to fully fund the Melbourne Metro project.

"The inclusion of this project on the Infrastructure Priority List demonstrates the important work undertaken by Infrastructure Australia in identifying and assessing priorities that are capable of being funded independently of the federal government."

Infrastructure Australia chief executive Philip Davies emphasises the strategic imperative for the rail project for exports.

 "The Murray Basin region is a major producer of agricultural and mining goods, but access to large domestic and international markets is constrained by the poor condition of the regional rail network due to a historic underspend on maintenance," Davies says.

"Capacity on the Murray Basin rail network is constrained by the mixture of broad and standard gauge lines and a 19 tonne axle load limit, which means trains cannot operate at full capacity.

"The Murray Basin Rail Project has been identified as a Priority Project as it addresses the fragmentation of the regional rail network and will alleviate current capacity constraints. This will ultimately reduce rail freight costs to business and improve the competiveness of Murray Basin exports."

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) sees great supply chain efficiencies from the project once complete.

"The Murray Basin Rail Project will allow up to 500,000 more tonnes of grain, and 450,000 tonnes of general freight, to be moved by rail each year," ALC MD Michael Kilgariff says.

"Ports will also potentially benefit from the increased freight load, with an incentive to invest and add new jobs to manage the increasing rail freight.

"The Murray Basin Rail Project will also reinforce the need for clarity around the regional freight network. In particular, the project should cause the Victorian Government to look at how connections between the regional freight network and ports can be further improved"

For more information on the Infrastructure Priority List, the assessment process, and to find the three business case assessments, visit http://infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/

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