| September 13, 2017

Government on the hunt for fresh fast rail proposals

Fresh ideas to build faster rail services to boost housing and job opportunities in regional and urban areas are being sought by the Turnbull-Joyce Government.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher have launched the government’s Faster Rail Prospectus, signalling the start of a process calling for business cases for new or upgraded rail infrastructure that would better link cities and the regions.

“Helping deliver the investment needed to unlock faster rail commutes will cut travel times, boost Australia’s economic productivity, reduce freight costs, and improve commuters’ quality of life,” Mr Chester said.

“This initiative will explore improvements to the rail connections between our cities and surrounding regional areas through $20 million in funding to support the development of business cases, following a commitment to investigate faster rail options in the 2017–18 Budget.”

Mr Fletcher said business cases must outline initiatives that will increase housing choices by opening up regional areas, encourage job and career opportunities, and improve access to specialist services for people in regional areas, as well as major events.

“Proposals are open for application to both state governments and the private sector, including consortia arrangements, with submissions for high-level Stage 1 proposals closing on 13 October 2017,” he said.

“Ultimately the best three proposals will receive Australian Government co-funding towards business case development, with the final business cases then progressing to Infrastructure Australia for assessment.”

Federal Member for Damian Drum said the funding had the potential to unlock investment in busy rail corridors such as Shepparton to Melbourne.

“For the many commuters in a region like ours, faster rail has the potential to have a significant impact on quality of life by allowing residents to spend more time at home, and less time travelling. Residents in Shepparton have been demanding better rail services for years, this is an opportunity for us to get a fast rail service that we need and deserve,” Mr Drum said.

“I have spoken in the parliament on a number of occasions about our needs in Shepparton; we now have the opportunity to put forward plans that would significantly improve the commute to Melbourne.

“Proposals may involve initiatives such as new lines connecting to the existing network, extending existing lines to growing urban areas, improvement to infrastructure such as bridges, track duplication, network electrification or rolling out next-generation signalling technology,” Mr Drum said.

The Faster Rail Prospectus is part of the Turnbull Government’s record $20 billion national rail investment announced in the 2017/18 Budget.

For more information on this significant rail investment, visit http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/

For more information on the prospectus, or to make a proposal, visit http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/funding/projects/faster_rail.aspx.

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