The Australian Government has confirmed A$1bn ($660m) for upgrading national railways’ infrastructure which has been battered by climatic events over several years, in its annual budget. 

The federal funding of A$540m will be combined with A$500m invested by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC). 

The year’s funding is part of the Canberra government’s A$13.2bn rail segment of the Infrastructure Investment Programme. 

Australasian Railway Association CEO Caroline Wilike welcomed the funding confirmation. 

“The ARA welcomes the decision to invest over A$1 billion to upgrade critical sections of the 8,500-kilometre national rail network to help ensure the safe, reliable and efficient delivery of commercial goods to support businesses and families,” Wilkie said.

She explained why the investment in resilience is so crucial: “Repeated severe weather events, particularly flooding, have had a major impact on rail freight and passenger services and resulted in significant disruptions to our national supply chain, with washouts on the east-west rail line alone costing the economy $320 million in 2022,” Wilkie said. 

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“It is very pleasing to see the Australian Government acknowledge the significant impact that increasingly frequent extreme weather events have had on our national rail network. This essential investment will help ensure our supply chains keep moving when our communities need it most.”

The projects financed by the new budget included: A$140 million for culvert upgrades to increase flood resilience in South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales and A$150 million for track rehabilitation and operational upgrades between Albury and Sydney. 

Elsewhere in the budget, the government will spend A$1.4 billion on the 72km Metronet project in Perth, A$50 million on the design of Stage 2B of the Canberra light rail, and A$1.15 billion for the Direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line in Queensland.