Australia welcomes $17.9 billion transport infrastructure budget

Aerial view of rows of shipping containers

Major road and rail projects across the country will be given a boost in funding as outlined in the Australian Government’s 2022-2023 budget.

The government is committing an additional AUD$17.9 billion ($13.4 billion) to transport projects as part of its 10-year infrastructure investment pipeline.

A total of AUD$3.1 billion ($2.3 billion) will be used to support the AUD$3.6 billion ($2.7 billion) Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package to accommodate future inland rail services and strengthen the national supply chain.

The Port of Melbourne has backed the additional funding but has said that priority should be given to the Western Intermodal Freight Terminal (WIFT) as it is the most effective consolidation point for the majority of the port’s international import and export containers that are located to the west and north of Melbourne.

“The port has always acknowledged the long term need for two Intermodal terminals in the Melbourne metropolitan. However, we believe the immediate priority should be WIFT,” said Saul Cannon, CEO of the Port of Melbourne.

“WIFT creates the most opportunity to shift more freight onto rail in the short to medium term.

“More than one-third of Australia’s container trade comes through the Port of Melbourne, and with container trade expected to triple over the next thirty years it’s critical we get more freight movements on rail in the future, so this commitment to our national supply chain infrastructure is very welcome.”

The port’s container volumes grew 1.3 per cent year-on-year in February this year, handling 269,127 TEU.

The Port of Melbourne has a large commitment to rail as it is demonstrating with the development of its Port Rail Transformation Project (PRTP). With the implementation of the PRTP, more containers will be able to be moved by rail more efficiently and will increase the overall rail terminal capacity and operations at the port.

“Inland Rail needs to connect efficiently with other freight infrastructure, including the Port of Melbourne and metropolitan and regional intermodal freight terminals,” Cannon continued.

“Connection of Inland Rail to the Port of Melbourne, including a direct freight connection to Webb Dock, is essential if we’re going to meet the long term demands of consumers and business.”

The government’s budget also detailed that AUD$1.5 billion ($1.1 billion) will be invested in Western Australia’s Pilbara region to upgrade roads, ports, and other infrastructure.

A further AUD$2.7 billion has been set aside for Faster Rail projects from Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in Queensland.

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