WA eyes road and rail record in 2013-14 Budget


Buswell allocates highest ever spending on transport infrastructure with Perth gaining lion’s share

August 9, 2013

The Western Australian Government expects 3.25 percent economic growth in the state, with Treasurer and Transport Minister Troy Buswell saying transport projects would receive a record spend in the 2013-14 State Budget.

"The Government has committed $5.7 billion over the next four years to transport infrastructure - a substantial increase on the $3.4 billion spent over the four years to 2011-12," Buswell says.

A significant proportion will be on passenger and freight rail, both in Perth and country areas.

Despite the transport industry’s concern about the road becoming a reality, WA will chip in $100 million into the $325 million in spending over four years on 37 km of the $845 million Perth-Darwin National Highway project.

The Budget papers describe it as "part of the Government's solution to provide a heavy freight vehicle alternative to the Great Northern Highway and create dedicated freight routes for heavy vehicles heading to the north of the State.

"Road projects funded under the next tranche of the Nation Building Program are scheduled to commence in 2014."

They detail major highway projects as Perth-Darwin National Highway (Reid Highway to Muchea), construction of three interchanges on Tonkin Highway, North West Coastal Highway (Minilya to Barradale), Leach Highway-High Street (Carrington Street to Stirling Highway dual carriageway) and Great Northern (Highway Muchea to Wubin Stage 2).

The papers highlight that, given the importance of the road transport industry to service regional areas, "delivering improvements in transport efficiencies is important for the State economy.

"Investment in initiatives such as the Over Size Over Mass Unit for the heavy haulage industry and planned construction of additional passing lanes assist in reducing transport costs."

However, road network permitted for use by heavy freight vehicles are forecast to slip 1 percent for all relevant combinations.

After dipping from $693 million to $538 million in the two previous budgets, spending on road maintenance will be very close to $700 million in 2013-14..

Planning for growth is designated a serious priority for the Department of Transport.

"The freight demands of export industries and the demand for consumer goods from a rapidly growing population have highlighted the critical need for strategic transport network plans that identify and prioritise infrastructure investment requirements over the next two decades," the papers say.

"The Government has released the Western Australian Regional Freight Transport Network Plan, which highlights the significant road investment task for regional freight, a major investment program by Brookfield Rail Pty Ltd, and large-scale investments in regional ports.

"The Department is working to complete a freight and intermodal network plan for metropolitan Perth, which will focus on redefining the strategic road freight network, investments to increase capacity in the rail freight network, measures to protect freight networks from urban encroachment, and medium to long-term plans for port development."

The papers reveal swings and roundabouts in departmental spending.

"The reduction in Total Cost of Services between the 2012-13 Budget and the 2012-13 Estimated Actual is mainly due to a delay in works on the Esperance Port access of $33 million, the Port Hedland upgrade of $53 million and Bunbury Port Access and Outer Ring Road of $17 million," they say.

"The increase in Total Cost of Services between the 2012-13 Estimated Actual and the 2013-14 Budget Target is mainly due to an increase of works on the Port Hedland upgrade project, some $60 million."

Income from oversize vehicle and loads permits jumped over the past two budgets from $6.8 million to $8 million but is expected to slide back to $5.6 million in 2013-14 and then rise by 200,000 a year until 2016-17, which is the last of the forward estimates.

The department will seek to raise percentage of containerised freight transported via rail in relation to total metropolitan container movements to and from Fremantle port 2 percent to 16 percent, up from 13 percent in 2011-12.

In 2013-14, about $54.6 million will be expended from the $171.4 million allocated to improving the State’s Grain Freight Network.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) backs the focus on rail.

"The near $4 billion investment for the 22km MAX Light Rail and the Airport Rail Link will open up Perth’s congested roads and provide people with a greater opportunity to get to where they need to be in a more sustainable, cost effective, reliable and safer way," ARA CEO Bryan Nye says.

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