We are still to learn a lesson in Australia. More funding into roads and less and less into transport in Queensland. The QLD Government could only find $80m over 4 years for the Mount Isa rail line a fundamental piece of infrastructure for the mining industry they are so dependent upon for royalties but can spend another $1.2b in roads?
Does Queensland need an independent planning authority who can review projects which are in the best interests of the state rather than the current parliamentary party?
$2 billion state-federal deal to fast-track Queensland construction
Queensland's sluggish infrastructure delivery process is already the result of too much bureaucracy - adding another level is the last thing needed. I suspect the same issue can be found throughout the rest of Australia. QR is hamstrung by oversight by the Department of Transport - which has resulted in the Next Generation Rollingstock debacle and the delivery of incompatible signalling systems - both undertaken by the Department without input from QR.
Meanwhile interference from the minister's office this decade has resulted first in unsustainable staff cuts, followed by a recruitment and training program stymied by union agreements. The Toowoomba Range tunnel lowering project was fully funded in August 2013 with work to begin in January 2014. The project was delayed six years by a change of government, all containers moving to road in the interim, and coinciding with the Queensland Transport Department delivering the second Toowoomba Range toll-road crossing. The latter was expected to be used by 3,500 heavy vehicles daily, paying tolls of nearly $26 each. Queensland's rail infrastructure would be handled far more adeptly if QR could report directly to the minister rather than through the multiple layers of Queensland Transport - layers, which may, or may not, have completely different priorities.
As for the Mt Isa Line, the $80-million reannounced this week is to discount access fees for the next four years, not for infrastructure delivery. A separate five year $380-million upgrade program is underway between Townsville and Mt Isa, while the State Government and the government-owned Townsville Port are co-funding a $48-million rail intermodal terminal at the port, so the money is coming in, in this case without Federal assistance, unlike some other regional rail projects around the country. Seperate to this funding was the flood rebuilding carried out earlier this year that saw 16 bridges rebuilt, 47km of new rail and concrete sleepers and 120,000-tonnes of ballast used to reduce transit times on the reopened line by 50-minutes.
And as much as I'd hate to say it, the South East Queensland upgrades to the Bruce Highway and the M1 are desperately needed. Amplifications to these roads should have been completed a decade ago. Today's Federal funding announcement has also included final funding for the next stage of the Gold Coast Light Rail, initial funding for the North Coast Line duplication north of Beerburrum and initial funding for parts of the Inland Rail project around Brisbane.