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Extra $270 million for the interstate rail network

Minister for Transport and Regional Services - Warren Truss
012TRS/Budget 9 May 2006

The Australian Government will provide the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) with $270.0 million in 2005-06 to further invest in the interstate rail network. The investment will improve track performance, allowing heavier trains to operate faster and compete more aggressively with road transport.

The extra funding is in addition to other considerable rail spending and investment by the Australian Government and the ARTC. Together, the Australian Government and the ARTC are spending more than $2.0 billion on Australia's mainline rail infrastructure, signalling and communications technology over five years to mid-2009.

"The greatest deficiency in the rail network is on the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridor, where the Government wants rail freight to be more competitive," the Australian Government Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Warren Truss, said today.

"This is increasingly important with long term forecasts indicating that from 2000 to 2020 the total freight task will almost double, rail therefore must be in a position to carry more long distance freight.

"The ARTC has advised that the $270 million will be used to purchase and install approximately 1.63 million concrete sleepers for the predominantly timber-sleepered track between Melbourne and Macarthur, and Newcastle and the Queensland border. This program will create a more reliable infrastructure and reduce the frequency and severity of speed restrictions and incidents.

"Other benefits will include improved ride quality, thereby reducing operator costs and minimising in-transit damage to freight. I also welcome the potential benefits to environmental performance and sustainability including reduced noise and improved fuel consumption.

Mr Truss said it is now up to the train operators to take advantage of the improvements in rail infrastructure being funded by the Australian Government and the ARTC so they can become more competitive with road transport in the North-South corridor," Mr Truss said.

"Our combined massive investment in the North-South link is expected to reduce train transit times between Melbourne and Sydney from 13 hours 10 minutes to 10 hours 40 minutes for 1500 metre super freighters and 11 hours 30 minutes for 1800 metre super freighters. Transit time Sydney-Brisbane for 1500 metre super freighters will be cut by four hours.

"The Government and the ARTC are already committed to investments in the railway lines serving ports and terminals at Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Such links fit the AusLink strategic objective of improving transport efficiency where the modes interact and are part of the Government's holistic approach to revitalising the transport infrastructure underpinning strong economic growth," Mr Truss said

Media contacts:
Mr Truss' office - Kylie Butler 02 6277 7680 / 0417 652 488