In the run up to Australia’s largest rail exhibition, AusRAIL PLUS 2019, Railway-News asked the Australian Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development about the key successes and challenges for rail in Australia.
“The opportunities and challenges facing Australia’s freight and passenger rail industries are broad and far reaching. Transport infrastructure underpins the proper function of our economy and is responsible for the movement of more than 1000 billion tonne-kilometres of goods and bulk freight across the country each year. The Australian Government’s $100 billion infrastructure pipeline recognises the importance of continued investment in our roads, air, sea and rail as a vital platform for economic growth and transport safety. To maximise the benefits from this unprecedented investment Australia’s rail sector faces the challenge of attracting and retaining skills in a competitive labour market, but there are also opportunities to innovate, embrace new technology and harness the power of data to deliver better services for all Australians.
“For the first time, a national approach has been agreed to position Australia’s multimodal freight supply chains to face the growing freight challenges of the next 20 years and beyond. For passenger rail, the Government has committed to faster rail, providing for people to be able to commute from regional areas into the cities quickly and safely.
“The National Transport Commission has been tasked with developing an action plan to address skill/labour supply. With an aging population, the rail industry like many industries – is competing for a diminishing skilled workforce. The action plan will identify measures that can be taken immediately and map out a forward work program that is designed to support the unprecedented level of investment in the rail sector.
“In addition, the Government has developed the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy and Action Plan to position Australia to meet its emerging freight and supply chain challenges. Inland Rail is a strategic investment in Australia’s national freight network, one that will help Australia manage future demand from a growing domestic population and increasing international trade. Inland Rail will also connect productive agriculture regions between Melbourne and Brisbane with new markets and customers. The Government has also established the National Faster Rail Agency to deliver fast rail connections between major capital cities and their regional centres. This includes leading the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s 20-year plan for a Faster Rail Network. The Government is also funding a range of business cases investigating options for faster rail connections between capital cities and regional centres and has committed $2 billion to deliver faster rail between Melbourne and Geelong.
“The Government has committed up to $5 billion towards the construction of a rail link to Melbourne Airport. The Melbourne Airport Rail Link will improve the performance of critical transport links to Melbourne Airport and Melbourne’s north-west, and improve track capacity between Sunshine and Melbourne CBD.
“These initiatives taken together mean more Australians getting home sooner and safer and more of the products and produce we like transported to us by rail to us safer and faster than ever before.”
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