27 October 2023

Australia A$70 billion rail construction pipeline

There has never been a more exciting time to be part of the Australian rail industry. With A$70 billion in rail construction activity planned over the next 5 years, the country is currently in a period of development that will transform its rail network for generations to come.

Australia has a strong pipeline of public sector funded projects, with 357 large road, rail, airport, energy and social infrastructure construction projects planned in major cities and across key freight and transport routes.

Infrastructure industries account for more than 20% of Australia’s GDP. The Australian Government has committed A$120 billion over 10 years to major infrastructure projects, including billions on road and rail projects across the country.

Train going over a bridge

Unprecedented investment in passenger and freight rail

Around 80% of all Australians live in our 21 largest cities. Over the decade to 2032, Australia’s population is projected to increase by 3.8 million to just under 30 million people – equivalent to an annual growth rate of 1.4%.

Developing cities and regional centres to meet future passenger needs is a key government focus.

Australia’s largest infrastructure projects include Sydney Metro, which is Australia’s biggest public transport project and the nation’s first fully automated metro rail system. It will deliver four new rail lines and 46 stations, boosting Sydney’s rail capacity up to 60% by 2024.

The Melbourne Suburban Rail Loop creates 90km of new rail line and 15 new stations circling Melbourne. Three sections should be fully complete by 2035.

The Inland Rail Network is pushing ahead with connecting Melbourne and Brisbane via a 1600km new rail freight corridor across rural Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. This project will connect our burgeoning rural industries with port and logistics centres in Melbourne, Brisbane and NSW, as well as our western states via the city of Parkes.

Opportunities in high speed rail and across the rail manufacturing supply chain

High speed rail is also a major priority on the Australian Government’s agenda with a High Speed Rail Authority established in June 2023.

Queensland will benefit from faster rail between Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, preparing it for strong population growth in the South East, as well as the 2032 Commonwealth Games taking place in Brisbane.

Further work will also be done on links between Melbourne and the northern cities of Shepparton and Albury as well as the Geelong-Melbourne fast rail, bringing the travel time down below 1 hour between the latter two cities.

To support rail manufacturing supply chain, the new Office of National Rail Industry Coordination (ONRIC) will lead a national and coordinated approach to strengthen Australia's rail manufacturing. The office will deliver the Australian Government’s $14.2 million National Rail Manufacturing Plan.

Reducing emissions to reach net zero

The Australian Government has set a target of reducing emissions by 43% by 2030. Currently the transport sector is the country’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (source).

One commuter train is estimated to take 578 cars off the road (source). The Australian Government is investing in reducing road freight and utilising public transport to accelerate progress to net zero and seeking global partners to transition its rail network and decarbonise its transport sector.

Austrade supports international players to bring world class expertise

Australia is seeking global partners to transition its rail network and decarbonise its transport sector. Currently transport contributes 19% of Australia's total carbon emissions.

For example, the Inland Rail Network will reduce our reliance on roads for moving freight cutting carbon emissions by 750,000 tonnes per year from 2050.

Multinationals in Australia include Acciona, Alstom, Arup, Keolis, Laing O’Rourke, Mott MacDonald, MTR Corporation and Webuild.

Austrade is Australia’s national investment promotion agency connecting investors to early-stage opportunities in Australia and providing direct and tailored professional assistance.

Recently we supported RATP Dev to grow its footprint in Australia as part of the Parklife Metro Consortium contracted to deliver the new Sydney Metro transport line to service the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport. Once the line is operational, RATP Dev will operate the metro line for 15 years.

‘The pipeline was extraordinary,’ says Denis Masure, RATP Dev’s General Manager Australia & New Zealand. ‘It is not very often there are 3 outstanding projects in a wonderful country such as Australia. It was the perfect timing for us to open our business in Australia.’

‘The procurement process itself has been one of the best we’ve been involved in,’ he adds. ‘Sydney Metro has been very professional and has done an amazing job of sticking to their deadlines.’

Austrade’s expertise was important in facilitating discussions at many levels, explains Masure. ‘At one point we were having discussions with another government agency. Austrade helped us understand the global perspective of the commercial matter and reaching a resolution.’

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