ARA welcomes new investments in safety and training initiatives

ARA have welcomed funding for safety and training initiatives in the recent Federal Budget, as the industry looks to support the nation’s economic growth.

ARA safety training

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed new rail funding and investment in safety, skills and training initiatives in the recent Federal Budget, as the industry continues to support the nation’s economic growth and recovery.

The ARA welcomed the Budget’s recognition of the importance of rail freight to the nation’s supply chain, with a range of new funding initiatives including the $3.1 billion Melbourne Intermodal Terminal Package, additional funding for Inland Rail works and a commitment to tranche four of the Tasmanian Freight Rail Revitalisation Programme. Funding for a business case to evaluate the upgrade of the Maroona to Portland Port Rail Line in Victoria was also welcomed.

“Moving more freight on rail delivers tangible environmental and safety benefits for the wider community,” Caroline Wilkie, Chief Executive Officer for the ARA, said. “Rail will meet three quatres of growing freight demand over the next decade, supporting strong supply chains for the long term. At a time when we want passengers to return to rail, investments like these will ensure rail continues to be a transport mode of choice and supports the sustainability and liveability of our communities in the long term.”

The ARA also commended $180 million in new funding to establish the Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Programme to improve level crossing safety in regional Australia. There are more than 23,000 level crossings in Australia and funding for initiatives that assess and improve level crossing safety and support education and awareness was welcome news for the industry and those living in the regions.

The Government’s $954 million Australian Apprenticeship Incentive System and an additional $365 million to extend support to employers taking on and retraining new apprentices would deliver help address one of the most critical issues facing the industry. The ARA’s Skills Capability Study predicted workforce gaps of up to 70,000 skilled workers by 2023, with some areas of specialisation already experiencing shortages.

Funding for key passenger rail projects including the Brisbane to Sunshine Coast rail extension, the Sydney to Newcastle and Brisbane to Gold Coast faster rail upgrades and the METRONET project in Western Australia were welcome investments in the rail network.