AUSTRALIA BACKS RAILWAY INFRASTRUCTURES TO RESPOND TO THE GROWING POPULATION IN ITS MAIN CITIES AND TO PROMOTE FREIGHT IN A TERRITORY MARKED BY LONG DISTANCES. THE GOVERNMENT WILL MAKE AN INVESTMENT OF 20 BILLION AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS (17.965 BILLION EUROS) UNTIL THE YEAR 2027.
Australia has a surface area of 7,741,220 km2 with a population of 25 million inhabitants. Its geographical location and its sizeable extension also conditions the structure of its transport network, both in terms of freight and passengers. In the country, the sixth largest in the world, there are six states, plus two territories: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory.
The majority of the population is concentrated in the capital Canberra and the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Considered one of the 15 largest economies in the world,it also stands out in the international rankings as one of the most attractive countries for businesses. The increase in population, which will rise from about 25 million to 31.4 million by 2034, and the search for competitive solutions compared to air and road travel have led the authorities to focus on a sustainable solution for the future. Furthermore, each territory has planned its own programmes to boost transport. In all of them the implementation of infrastructure investment programmes have the railway in centre stage. It is an ideal context for companies that want to contribute their products and services to the development of these initiatives.
The railway sector
The Australian rail network boasts 33,355 kilometres of track, plus another 4,000 kilometres that are devoted to the transport of sugarcane in the state of Queensland. 10% of these lines (3,369 kilometres) are electrified and are located in the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne (1500 V DC), Brisbane and Perth (25 kV AC). The rest of the system runs on diesel.
The main connections are especially concentrated on the east coast and southeast on the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne axis.
As for its technical characteristics, it should be noted that the network has three types of widths. The international standard (1,435 mm) is the most implanted, with 17,247 kilometres and is used on interstate routes, as well as in certain mining areas such as Pilbara (Western Australia). Alongside this, all states have some branches with these characteristics, except Tasmania
There are 12,522 kilometres of narrow track (1,067 mm), found in the states of Queensland, Tasmania and in the metropolitan area of Perth for the transport of goods such as sugar cane.
The least commonly found is the wide track (1,600 mm) with 3,247 kilometres spread throughout in the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The federal government and that of the different states own most of the rail infrastructure (Transport for NSW, VicTrack, Queensland Rail Limited, Public Transport Authority of Western Australia).
Also, they are entrusted with the maintenance of the networks and the plans for expansion and modernisation of the lines.
The management element belongs to several private companies. In passenger transport, operators vary depending on the territory. In New South Wales the companies are
Sydney Trains, NSW Trains (intercity); in Victoria, Metro Trains Melbourne (suburban rail network), V / Line (interstate lines) and Yarra Trams (Melbourne trams). In Queensland there are Citytrain (city network), Traveltrain (intercity connections) and GoldLiQ (tram). On the other hand, Western Australia operates TransPerth and TransWa. They are joined in South Australia: Adelaine Metro and Glenelg Tram. Long-distance journeys provide Great Southern Railway, NSW TrainLink and Queensland Rail.
As for the transport of freight, the market is highly concentrated.
65% of the network is in the hands of two companies: Aurizon and Asciano.
There are also other companies such as SCT Logistics, GWA, Qube Logistics, Pacific National, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Karara and Tasrail, among others.
Australia has modern transport networks, but the increase in population, especially in large urban centres and the momentum intended to be given to freight traffic, has led the authorities to prioritise modernisation and network expansion projects. The government will make an investment of 20 billion dollars (17.965 billion euros) until the year 2027.
On the one hand, the “National Rail Plan” (National Rail Programme) is underway, endowed with 10,000 million Australian dollars (8,949 million euros) to be invested over a period of 10 years.
The goal is to improve rail connections in the surrounding cities and regional centres. On the other, for mega projects such as the “Inland Rail” they have a budget of 8.4 billion Australian dollars (7,545 million euros).
The opportunities to participate in this major boost to the railways are historical. Together with the federal programme over the next ten years, a portfolio of projects is planned that encompasses the numerous initiatives of the different states that include new infrastructure, improvements to existing networks and fleet renewal.
Solely in the Budget for 2019-2020, the Government has earmarked 3.5 billion Australian dollars (3.132 billion euros) to the South Sydney North South rail link and another 2 billion Australian dollars (1.789 billion euros) for the fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne.