THE New South Wales Government has pledged $1 billion to a package which will include upgrading of regional roads, fast-tracking of rail freight and rebuilding of transport infrastructure after disaster.
Announced on Friday, the pledge comes as the ruling Liberal-National Coalition, the Australian Labor Party in Opposition, and minor parties and independents roll out their policies ahead of the March 25 NSW election.
The announcement has been welcomed by those in the rail sector, including Southern Shorthaul Railroad principal Jason Ferguson.
“There are parts of the network where our grain trains can wait up to eight hours to get through a bottleneck,” Mr Ferguson said in a statement.
“These projects will eliminate these delays and will allow greater productivity and efficiency, which ultimately ends up with money back in the pockets of farmers”.
A spokesperson for the NSW Government said the rail bottlenecks which will benefit from the funding package were yet to be identified, but would be determined on criteria beyond benefit-cost ratio.
“The BCR isn’t the only angle the government will be looking at; that means projects that didn’t get up before might be eligible,” the spokesperson said.
Funding for rail will come primarily from the $300 million Fast Tracking Freight program which has been announced to tackle freight pinch points on the road and rail network, and better connect road and rail with key and emerging freight hubs and increase the capacity and reliability of the network.
NSW’s road and rail network was hit hard by flooding last year, and the $1B pledged includes $300M for a Build Back Better program to invest in more resilient state, regional and local road and transport infrastructure across regional NSW.
Also included is $400M for Fixing Local Roads to help regional councils continue their work to repair, maintain and seal road.
In a NSW Government statement, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the total commitment would improve the resilience of the road and rail network right across NSW for generations to come.
“This is a state-building initiative that will drive safety and drive productivity, ensuring people and products get where they need to – and that when disaster strikes, communities and supply chains remain connected,” Mr Toole said.
“In 2019, we made history with a $500M investment to help regional councils fix their
“It’s improved thousands of kilometres of the local roads our communities use every day and benefitted every regional LGA in the State.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that there’s more to do which is why we’ll inject an extra $400
million into the Fixing Local Roads program so we can help councils turbocharge their efforts
on road maintenance.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said on the back of the COVID-19
pandemic and recent floods, forward thinking was needed to strengthen the state’s supply
“Freight is worth $66 billion a year to the NSW economy and the freight task is only growing,” Mr Farraway said.
“Our new Fast Tracking Freight program will make it easier for rail freight projects to get off
the ground and get our food and fibre from paddock to port.”
Source: NSW Government