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Rail resurgence unlocks future prosperity

1 November 2017

This country’s ability to meet many of the challenges of the 21st century relies on our renewed commitment to our passenger and freight rail networks.

The growth in population across Australia won’t be evenly spread, which raises challenges for moving people around our cities, and between our cities and regional areas, quickly and efficiently. The federal government’s $10 billion National Rail Program, released in 2017, makes the case for rail being the most effective way to meet these challenges, while also making our passenger transport networks more reliable and our cities more liveable as they grow.

In December 2017, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Program will deliver funding for the planning and construction of rail projects for the next 10 years. “Better rail connectivity makes it possible to grow the regions, reduce congestion in our cities, create thousands of new jobs, and support our efforts to decentralise,” he said.

The announcement that rail will receive substantial funding for the foreseeable future represents a tilt in favour of rail after decades in which funding for roads has received priority.

Meeting the needs of the country’s growth in freight will also demand continued investment in major heavy rail projects. The Australian Rail Association indicates that there will be a potential 88 per cent increase in freight kilometres travelled by 2050 and an increase in vehicle stock on our roads of approximately 2.5 million trucks and light commercial vehicles.

Freight activity generates billions of dollars in value for the Australian economy and supports thousands of jobs. We’re increasingly seeing whole-of-supply chain solutions with rail as a dominant component. It’s therefore essential we continue our efforts to upgrade our heavy rail networks and ease the burden of heavy freight traffic on Australia’s existing interstate routes. Major freight transport projects underway throughout Australia, such as Inland Rail, won’t just give regional areas the chance to unlock new domestic and international markets, they represent enormous opportunities for the Australian steel supply chain and other related industries.

Brenton Marcinkowski, InfraBuild (formerly LIBERTY OneSteel) Sales Manager Rail Products, said the steel sector has a critical role to play in servicing projects currently underway – and those to come.

“InfraBuild is playing an important role in both the manufacture and supply of Australian-made and third-party certified steel rail products for many of these nation-building projects, collaborating with the constructors to meet their often-complex supply requirements to keep the projects on track,” he said.  

In this feature, we identify several of the major trends being driven by rail and look at how our investment in major heavy rail, intercity, metro and light rail projects is preparing us for growth in our capital cities and regional centres.

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