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Report on performance

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Transport outputs and programmes

Output 1.3.1: AusLink

(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

The Australian Government's National Land Transport Plan (AusLink) is implemented to maintain and improve the standard of national infrastructure

The five-year AusLink National Land Transport Plan received a further $2.4 billion in the Australian Government's May 2006 Budget to bring to $15 billion the government's total funding commitment to AusLink over the five financial years to 30 June 2009. In 2005-06, the second year of the plan, the department administered $4.5 billion in grants for national infrastructure on behalf of the Australian Government.

During 2005-06, the department distributed $1.2 billion for more than 160 major projects on the AusLink rail (13,985 km) and road (22,500 km) network. A further $7.8 million was spent on research and technology projects.

All councils around Australia, and states and the Northern Territory where they administer unincorporated land, received $307.5 million for improvements to their local roads. An amount of $497 million was made available as untied financial assistance grants for roads. Supplementary funding to South Australian councils accounted for a further $9 million and $14.5 million was allocated to AusLink strategic regional projects.

In a targeted programme to reduce Australia's road toll, the government directed $44.5 million to a range of 'black spot' safety improvements.

Of the additional $2.4 billion distributed in 2005-06:

  • $1.8 billion was provided to states and the Northern Territory to complete major works packages by the end of 2009 on the Pacific and Hume highways in New South Wales, the Bruce Highway in Queensland, the Eyre, Great Eastern and Great Northern highways in Western Australia, the Sturt Highway in South Australia, the East Tamar Highway in Tasmania and the Victoria Highway in the Northern Territory.
  • $307.5 million was allocated as supplementary Roads to Recovery funding to about 700 councils around Australia, and to three states and the Northern Territory for unincorporated areas
  • the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), a company owned wholly by the Australian Government, received a further $270 million, which it will use to complete the replacement of old timber sleepers with concrete ones on the mainline track between Melbourne and the Queensland-New South Wales border. Together with other works, this will reduce travel times for freight trains by between two and nine hours over the main rail corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane.

In 2005-06, the ATC endorsed the first national model for rail safety legislation, marking a significant step towards improving the national consistency of rail regulations across state and territory borders.

The key challenges facing AusLink in 2006-07 include:

  • completing all the corridor strategies, including integrating information from the results of the North-South Rail Corridor Study
  • reviewing progress under the current five-year AusLink National Land Transport Plan and planning for major elements of subsequent Australian Government land transport infrastructure investment
  • finalising projects to be supported under the Strategic Regional Programme.

Infrastructure planning and investment decision-making processes are improved

The AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005 (the AusLink Act) was proclaimed on 28 July 2005.

AusLink's National Land Transport Network was determined under the Act in October 2005. It includes all of the former National Highway, plus additional freight routes and corridors through cities, and the interstate standard gauge mainline rail track.

During the year, the department finalised AusLink bilateral agreements with each state and both territories. These agreements identify respective responsibilities for developing the National Network, list projects approved for funding, and establish Australian Government financial contributions under the AusLink National Land Transport Plan to 2008-09.

The plan operates on a five-year basis within a 20-year planning horizon. Future funding will be informed by the findings of corridor strategies for the 24 transport corridors on the National Network. Guidelines have been developed to ensure consistent and robust strategies are developed. Four corridor strategies had been drafted and a further 12 were underway by 30 June 2006. In June 2005, COAG requested that all the strategies be completed by mid-2007.

Notes on administration were issued, providing detailed guidance to states and territories on how to administer the AusLink Programme on behalf of the Australian Government.

Stakeholders can access key documents and information about AusLink planning and decision-making processes on the AusLink website at www.auslink.gov.au.

The ARTC consulted widely with industry and freight users on the proposed rail track works and awarded corridor alliance contracts that involve the corporation and contractors sharing savings and costs.

Quality

Programmes are administered in line with relevant legislation

In 2005-06, the department administered the following programme elements:

  • AusLink-National Network
  • AusLink-Road Safety Black Spot
  • AusLink-Roads to Recovery
  • AusLink-Strategic Regional
  • AusLink-Improving Local Roads
  • AusLink-Improving the National Network
  • AusLink-Improving the National Railtrack
  • Management of residual issues of the former Australian National Railways Commission (AN)
  • Murray River Bridges-Federation Fund Project
  • Upgrade of Mainline Interstate Railway Track (removal of interstate rail track from Wodonga CBD).

For more information about programme administration, see the reports below.

Price

$19.8m

The actual price of this output in 2005-06 was $19.6 million.

Overall performance

Administered programme-AusLink National Network
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

Road, rail and related infrastructure is maintained and enhanced along designated transport corridors

AusLink National Network provides funds for new construction projects and maintenance on the National Network. The Australian Government invested $1.2 billion on these projects in 2005-06. Some were funded jointly with relevant state and territory governments and other parties.

Work was completed on:

  • the Hume Highway bypass at Craigieburn, Victoria (total Australian Government contribution is $306 million)
  • the Westlink M7, a 40 km section in a ring road for Sydney ($392 million)
  • duplication of the Taree to Coopernook section of the Pacific Highway in New South Wales ($28.8 million)
  • Buckley bridge upgrades on the Barkly Highway, North-West Queensland ($21 million)
  • Stage 1 of the Penguin to Ulverstone duplication of the Bass Highway, Tasmania ($28.5 million)
  • Stage 7 of the Roe Highway extension, Western Australia (total Australian Government contribution to the Roe Highway is $76 million)
  • the North Quay rail loop, Western Australia ($9.5 million)
  • duplication from Noonamah to Cox Peninsula Road on the Stuart Highway, Northern Territory ($6.5 million).

Work began or continued on more than 160 other National Network projects, including:

  • Caboolture Motorway widening to six lanes north of Brisbane
  • Hume Freeway at Albury-Wodonga upgrading
  • Pacific Highway's further duplication
  • Geelong bypass
  • Adelaide's Port River Expressway
  • an improved rail link to the Port of Melbourne
  • Sawyers Valley to The Lakes section of Western Australia's Great Eastern Highway duplication.

The Australian Government announced in December 2005 a rescue package totalling $78 million for the Tasmanian mainline rail network, subject to the Tasmanian Government and Pacific National, the private sector operator of rail services in that state, meeting certain investment requirements.

Quality

Planning and investment decision-making processes are improved in partnership with state and territory governments

Through the bilateral agreements negotiated during 2005-06, partnership arrangements were agreed with all states and territories. They included cooperative approaches for improving long-term planning and decision-making to meet and manage future transport infrastructure needs. The aim is to target projects on the National Network that deliver high levels of national benefit.

Under AusLink, investment in infrastructure will:

  • be informed by examining how each land transport corridor needs to perform to meet future demands safely and effectively
  • represent the best solution to a transport problem
  • target national objectives and priorities
  • be based on planning undertaken in partnership with states and territories and involve non-government stakeholders
  • increase the potential for private sector involvement.

Transport corridor objectives, strategies and priorities are established for future investment

The Minister for Transport and Regional Services approved objectives for developing the National Network in early 2006. These objectives provide a focus for assessing corridor needs and establishing national priorities that will:

  • increase efficiency and infrastructure handling capacity
  • improve safety and security
  • improve the productivity of nationally strategic and export-oriented freight corridors
  • improve the reliability of travel on interstate and interregional corridors
  • be consistent with viable, long-term economic and social outcomes, and with the obligation to current and future generations to sustain the environment.

Four corridor strategies were drafted in 2005-06: Brisbane-Cairns, Sydney-Melbourne, Adelaide urban and Perth-Adelaide.
In early 2006, development of another 12 corridor strategies began: Melbourne urban, Melbourne-Brisbane, Melbourne-Adelaide, Melbourne-Geelong, Sydney urban, Sydney-Brisbane, Sydney-Wollongong, Brisbane urban, Mt Isa-Townsville, Brisbane-Darwin, Perth-Darwin and Adelaide-Darwin.

All corridor strategies are to be completed by mid-2007.

A national intermodal terminal study was completed in February 2006 and several other 'foundation studies' were begun. These will examine freight demand and function, different industry needs and the nature and patterns of freight flows, including factors that may trigger shifts in the pattern of freight activity in the future. In addition, in March 2006 the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) published Demand projections for AusLink non-urban corridors. Together, these studies and projections will enable robust analysis of corridors, including freight traffic on non-urban routes and an assessment of urban freight patterns.

The North-South Rail Corridor Study commenced in September 2005 and the study report was released on 7 September 2006. It examined future transport demand along the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor and identified potential impediments to meeting this demand. Information and data were obtained through extensive consultation with the rail industry, freight forwarders and other users.

Some $4.3 million was spent under Part IV of the AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005 (Auslink Act) on these studies.

Projects are administered in line with relevant legislation

More than 160 major land transport infrastructure projects are being administered under the National Network Programme.

Cost

$1,318.4m

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $1,228.9 million, principally because funds allocated previously to the Scoresby Freeway project ($90.0 million) on the basis it would be built as an untolled road were reallocated to other projects and moved to later years.

Overall performance

Did you know?

It can cost more than $70 million to build a kilometre of four-lane, freeway-standard road. The most expensive road in Australia, per kilometre, is the Tugun bypass-it is 7.5 km long and cost $546 million. The Australian Government is contributing $120 million to the cost of the road west of the Gold Coast Airport.

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Administered programme-AusLink Road Safety Black Spot
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

Road crashes are reduced at treated sites, along with trauma and associated costs to the community

The AusLink Black Spot Programme is a key element of the Australian Government's aim to reduce the national road fatality rate by 40 per cent over the decade to 2010. It is currently funded until June 2008.

In 2005-06, $44.5 million was allocated to improving road safety at about 370 crash sites around Australia.

The programme has reduced the risk of crashes by funding measures such as traffic lights, roundabouts, signage and edge sealing at dangerous locations on roads around Australia.

The BTRE, which evaluated the programme in 2001, began a further evaluation during 2005-06 to assess the effectiveness of the Black Spot Programme since 2001. This is expected to be completed by March 2007.

Quality

Priority is given to proposals for cost-effective treatment of sites with a proven history of crashes (black spots)

A black spot can be nominated through the AusLink website at www.auslink.gov.au.

Most funding goes to treat sites with a proven history of crashes-black spots with a record of at least three accidents involving casualties over a five-year period-and with a robust benefit to cost ratio of at least 2:1.

Completed projects prevented more than 1,500 serious crashes and 32 fatalities between 1996 and 1999 alone. It is estimated they saved the community many times the cost of the works, returning approximately $14 in benefits for every dollar spent.

Approximately 50 per cent of Black Spot Programme funding is reserved for projects in rural areas, consistent with the proportion of road deaths and serious injuries occurring in those areas. In 2005-06, more than 54 per cent of funding was allocated to rural projects.

Payments are made in line with the AusLink legislation

This programme is administered under Part 7 of the AusLink (National Land Transport) Act 2005.

Quantity

Approximately 370 'black spots' are approved for funding

The number of projects varies each year depending on the cost of approved works. In 2005-06, 358 new black spots were approved for treatment.

Cost

$44.5m

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $44.4 million.

Overall performance

Administered programme-AusLink Roads to Recovery
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

Local councils use funds to maintain and improve land transport infrastructure

Under the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme, each local authority across Australia is guaranteed a share of the available funding. Money is paid directly by the Australian Government to each council. Spending decisions are made locally and reported to the government. Councils nominate projects to be funded.

Funds are used for a range of purposes, including roadworks, traffic lights and bridges, but not for moveable capital equipment such as graders.

In 2005-06, $307.5 million was provided under this programme. About 4,500 projects have been proposed by councils in 2005-06. Councils are required to lodge audited financial statements stating how they have spent the programme funds.

Quality

Payments are made in line with AusLink legislation

Following an audit of the previous Roads to Recovery Programme by the Australian National Audit Office, programme procedures have been enhanced, including a clearer requirement for councils' annual reports.

Quantity

Approximately 700 councils are eligible for funding

Every council in Australia is entitled to receive money under this programme. Funds are also provided to some state and Northern Territory agencies responsible for roads in unincorporated areas.

The funds are allocated as follows:

  • $1.2 billion over four financial years goes to councils, distributed in accordance with the recommendations of the various Local Government Grants Commissions
  • $30 million over four financial years is provided to the unincorporated areas of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Indian Ocean Territories of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Cost

$307.5m

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $307.5 million. The cost of this programme in the 2005-06 PBS is $340.6 million, which included $33.1 million for the Strategic Regional Programme. To improve the usefulness of this report, the programmes have been disaggregated and are reported separately.

Overall performance

Did you know?

Rail is a very safe and energy efficient form of land transport. One train with two drivers carries an equivalent amount to 150 trucks and drivers. The Australian Government and the Australian Rail Track Corporation, a private company wholly owned by the government, together are investing $2.4 billion in national rail infrastructure in the first five years of AusLink, the National Transport Plan

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Administered programme-AusLink Strategic Regional
(AusLink Business Division)

It is normal practice to report against the performance indicators in the Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS) or the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements (PAES) for the reporting year (2005-06). However, AusLink's administered programme outcomes changed during the year. To make this report as useful as possible, the new framework and targets have been aligned with those published in the 2006-07 PBS.

Effectiveness

Local councils use funds to develop regional land transport infrastructure supporting industry, tourism and economic development

AusLink's Strategic Regional Programme encourages collaboration among local government authorities to develop an effective regional transport network to assist established and emerging industries and strengthen social connectivity.

In total, $220 million has been provided for a range of projects to mid-2009. Some $127 million was made available through a competitive merit-based process, which was announced at the beginning of March 2006. Applications closed on 1 May 2006 and are being assessed by the department. The Australian Government expects to announce the successful projects late in 2006. Before the call for applications in March 2006 to decide the distribution of $127 million, the Australian Government announced in 2004 initial projects with funding totalling about $93 million. Of those 22 projects, 15 have been approved by the minister and are either completed or underway. Completed projects include:

  • safety improvements to Jervis Bay Road intersection, New South Wales (one of four subprojects of the Princes Highway Safety Works project)
  • traffic lights at Yan Yean and Ironbark Roads, Yarrambat, Victoria
  • a boardwalk along Metung Road, Victoria
  • the Russett Park Causeway in Mareeba Shire, Far North Queensland
  • upgrade of Port Sorell Road, Tasmania.

The department continues to work with proponents to finalise funding and administrative arrangements for the remaining seven projects.

Quality

Projects satisfy eligibility criteria

Current funding applications are being assessed against one of two sets of criteria: one for large projects (those seeking more than $1 million) and one for small projects (seeking up to $1 million).

The criteria for large projects require:

  • collaborative regional planning and regional support
  • stakeholder funding contributions
  • industry competitiveness
  • regional significance
  • access to services and employment
  • clear construction timelines and relevant construction standards.

The criteria for small projects include:

  • community/regional significance and community support-relevance to local industry and development
  • community access and social significance
  • safety
  • clear construction time lines and relevant construction standards.

The Australian Government will announce the successful projects before the end of 2006. The department will work with successful proponents to establish financial and administrative arrangements, enabling some projects to commence in the first half of 2007.

Quantity

Approximately 700 councils are eligible for funding

More than 480 applications from 274 separate councils seeking more than $1 billion in Australian Government contributions were received and are being assessed. The total project value represented by these applications is $2 billion.

Cost

$16.5m (down from $33.1m at Budget)

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $14.5 million, with
$2 million carried forward to 2006-07.

The AusLink Strategic Regional Programme is administered under Part 6 of the AusLink Act.

Overall performance

Administered programme-AusLink improving local roads
(AusLink Business Division)

It is normal practice to report against the performance indicators in the PBS or the PAES for the reporting year (2005-06). However, this programme was announced in the context of the 2005-06 Portfolio Supplementary Additional Estimates Statement (PSAES), with the performance indicators being reported for the first time in the 2006-07 PBS.

Effectiveness

Local councils use funds to accelerate works to maintain and improve the local road network

In the May 2006 Budget, the Australian Government announced a special one-off payment of $307.5 million to Australia's councils and to three states, the Northern Territory, Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands, to accelerate local road improvements.

Quality

Funds are paid to local councils and for unincorporated areas and are used for the construction or maintenance of roads

The funds are administered under similar funding conditions to those of the AusLink Roads to Recovery Programme.

Quantity

Approximately 700 councils are eligible for funding

Payments were made in June 2006 to 706 councils and five state/territory governments.

Cost

Nil (the programme was announced in the 2005-06 PSAES)

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was nil. An amount of
$307.5 million was paid in 2005-06 to be expensed over the next three years to 2008-09.

Overall performance

Administered programme-AusLink improving the national network
(AusLink Business Division)

It is normal practice to report against the performance indicators in the PBS or the PAES for the reporting year (2005-06). However, this programme was announced in the context of the 2005-06 PSAES, with the performance indicators being reported for the first time in the 2006-07 PBS.

Effectiveness

Roads and related infrastructure is enhanced along designated transport corridors

The Australian Government provided an additional $2.4 billion in 2005-06 for improving transport infrastructure. Of this total, $1.8 billion was paid to states and the Northern Territory to undertake specified works packages towards improving the AusLink National Network by the end of 2009. The funding will be expensed over the five years to 2010-11.

The programme includes:

  • providing dual carriageway on the remaining unduplicated sections of the Hume Highway, except for about 20 kilometres at Woomargama, Holbrook and Tarcutta, where planning for bypasses is required
  • duplicating the Pacific Highway from Moorland to Herons Creek, south of Port Macquarie, and undertaking priority safety works along the highway
  • undertaking flood immunity works on the Bruce Highway at Tully and a range of improvements on the highway between Townsville and Cairns
  • upgrading the Great Northern Highway in Victoria and the Great Eastern and Eyre highways in Western Australia, including completing the Lennard Street to Muchea section of the Great Northern Highway and further bridgeworks on the highway in the Kimberley
  • duplicating the Sturt Highway from Gawler to Daveyston and further upgrading it to Nuriootpa in South Australia
  • upgrading the East Tamar Highway in Tasmania, including a bypass of Dilston
  • undertaking flood mitigation works for the Victoria Highway across the Victoria River floodplain in the Northern Territory.

Quality

Projects are administered in line with relevant legislation and agreements between jurisdictions and the Australian Government

Memoranda of understanding in relation to the additional funding were negotiated with relevant states and the Northern Territory. These memoranda require adherence to relevant sections of the AusLink Act, bilateral agreements and Notes on Administration.

Cost

$2.5m (the programme was announced in the PSAES)

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $2.5 million. An amount of $1,820.0 million was paid in 2005-06 with the balance to be expensed in the forward years.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Management of residual issues of former Australian National Railways Commission
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

The future of the AN plan room is resolved, along with any other residual issues which may emerge

The department continued to deal with a number of residual issues associated with the former Australian National Railways Commission (AN), which has been wound up. The main issue continues to be the AN plan room in Adelaide, which now houses an estimated 200,000 plans and drawings of rail rolling stock and infrastructure.

In 2005-06, the department engaged a consultant to scrutinise the plans and develop a disposal strategy in conjunction with the Australian National Archives. The process included consultations with users of the plans. This process is expected to be completed in 2006-07.

Public access to plans of heritage value is maintained

Public access to the AN plans was maintained in Adelaide throughout 2005-06.

Cost

$0.5m (down from $0.7m at Budget).

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was $0.05 million. Amounts of $0.4 million in 2006-07 and 2007-08 have been set aside to meet any costs that might arise in connection with AN, including the AN plan room and any legal costs.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Murray River Bridges-Federation Fund Project
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

New regional infrastructure improves access

On average, more than 100,000 vehicles each day use the 30 Murray River crossings. Road transports carry 20 million tonnes of freight across Murray River bridges every year. The average value of this freight is $29 billion annually. Much of the freight is carried on the AusLink National Network between Sydney and Melbourne (Lincoln Causeway), Sydney and Adelaide (George Chaffey Bridge at Mildura) and Melbourne and Brisbane (Tocumwal Bridge on the Newell Highway).

The Australian Government is contributing $44 million to the cost of three non-network bridges over the Murray River in addition to the AusLink National Network bridges it funds. The Corowa Bridge has opened to traffic, the Robinvale Bridge is due to open on 7 October 2006, while construction is yet to start on the Echuca-Moama bridge. Because of heritage issues encountered by the Victorian Government, the project has been delayed to 2006-07.

Quality

A new bridge is constructed over the River Murray at Echuca-Moama

The Echuca-Moama crossing carries the third-largest value of freight on Murray River crossings between Victoria and New South Wales. The growing economic importance of Echuca-Moama as a tourism destination underscores the need for efficient and safe regional transport links; the new bridge will be consistent with such an objective.

Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations

n/a

Cost

$0m (down from $9.5m at Budget)

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was nil, with funding carried forward to 2006-07.

Overall performance

Administered programme-Upgrade of Mainline Interstate Railway Track (removal of interstate rail track from Wodonga CBD)
(AusLink Business Division)

Effectiveness

The project improves interstate rail track efficiency

The Australian Government remains committed to contributing to the cost of a Wodonga rail bypass. The bypass will remove the interstate rail track from the CBD of Wodonga, through construction of a new standard gauge track north of the city. The release of 20 hectares of railway land in the town centre will allow its redevelopment.

The rail bypass will benefit the residents of Wodonga, who have long had to deal with having the Melbourne-Sydney main line running through the centre of their city. This has meant delays and dangers for residents, fragmentation of the CBD-with loss of valuable space that could be better used for provision of civic amenities-and inefficient rail and road transport for industry.

Funds were moved to 2006-07, given ongoing negotiations between the ARTC, Victorian Department of Infrastructure, and Pacific National on the details of the project. Once agreement is reached and the Victorian Department of Infrastructure finalises a detailed project proposal, the project can proceed in 2006-07.

Quality

The interstate main line rail track through the Wodonga CBD is replaced with a rail bypass

n/a

Payments are made in line with the Australian Government's obligations

n/a

Cost

$20.0m

The actual cost of this programme in 2005-06 was nil, with funding carried forward to 2006-07.

Overall performance

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