Plans to build the mooted Melbourne to Brisbane railway will cost around $10 billion but add $22.5 billion to the Australian economy and generate up to 16,000 jobs over a ten-year construction period, a new report says.
Prepared by former deputy prime minister John Anderson, the report warns that eastern Australia would become increasingly reliant upon heavy trucks if work on the 1,700 kilometre plan does not commence soon, and calls for money in the federal budget from next year onward in order to complete the project over the next decade.
Set to complement existing transport networks, the project involves a direct connection between Melbourne and Brisbane via an inland route which avoids the busy Sydney network.
It will use the existing line through Victoria and southern NSW but will require around 400 kilometers of track upgrades predominately in NSW and around 600 kilometers worth of new track between NSW and Queensland.
Once fully built, the line will allow for trains of 3.6 kilometers in length.
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss welcomed the plans, saying that projections for sixty percent growth in population over the next forty years across the east coast mean that without inland rail, more heavy vehicles would be needed to move more than two million tonnes worth of additional freight between Melbourne and Brisbane by 2050.
“That is equivalent to 200 B-Double truck trips per day along the full length of the corridor and would require the introduction of high productivity heavy vehicles such as B-Triple trucks on the Hume, Pacific and Newell Highways,” Truss wrote in an article published in The Australian.
“Inland Rail will cost around $10 billion, but not building it will cost us more.”
Truss says the new line will reduce transit times between Brisbane and Melbourne by more than ten hours, remove 200,000 trucks from roads each year and add $22.5 billion to the Australian economy.
Up to 16,000 jobs will be generated over a ten-year construction period followed by more than 600 ongoing positions once the project is operational.
But Labour’s Transport spokesman Anthony Albanese accuses the government of inaction and says construction should already have started or at least more money should have already been put in the budget.
The project’s business case has now been referred to Infrastructure Australia.
- Runs 1700 kilometres from Brisbane - through Moree, Parkes and Wagga Wagga in central NSW - to Melbourne.
- Estimated to cost $10.7 billion with construction to take 10 years.
- Will cut 10 hours from Brisbane-Melbourne trip.
- Will replace an estimated 200,000 truck journeys each year and take freight trains off congested Sydney lines.
- Will require 600 kilometres of new track, with $450 million needed to buy real estate.
- 60 per cent of funding to be spent in Queensland because of extensive upgrading to existing track.
- Trains will initially be 1.8 kilometres long and eventually 3.6 kilometres, with containers stacked two high.