Australian Budget Received Mixed Reaction on Rail Funding

12 May 2009 (Last Updated May 12th, 2009 18:30)

The results of Australia's second budget under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor Government were revealed yesterday, causing equal measures of celebration and disappointment for some of the state's governing transport authorities. The Federal Government has allocated AU$8.5bn for railw

The results of Australia's second budget under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Labor Government were revealed yesterday, causing equal measures of celebration and disappointment for some of the state's governing transport authorities.

The Federal Government has allocated AU$8.5bn for railway, roads and ports as it embarks on one of the biggest building programmes in Australian history to combat the global financial downturn.

While the budget has allocated $3.2bn for Melbourne's 40km regional express line, Sydney's much-maligned metro network received barely more than 1% of the total transport funding for the nation.

The New South Wales state government had promised a $13bn metro network for the Australian capital, which included an extension of the central business district (CBD) metro to Rozelle and the West Metro to Parramatta. It received, however, just $91m for planning towards those projects.

In stark contrast, Melbourne received over three quarters of the total cost required for its rail project linking the city centre and western suburbs.

Elsewhere, $585m was given towards extending and modernising Adelaide's rail network, $365m was allocated towards a light rail corridor for Queensland's Gold Coast and $236m was put towards Perth's central city section to Fremantle line.

"The Rudd Labor Government is investing more in rail over the next 18 months than our predecessors did during their 12 years in office," Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Anthony Albanese said.

"As well as putting in place the modern rail infrastructure vital to Australia's long-term prosperity, our economic stimulus package is supporting jobs and businesses during the global economic recession."

By Alex Hawkes.