Posted October 02, 2018 09:00:06 Australian freight transport has suffered a dramatic drop in demand as the Federal Government prepares to scrap a $16 billion project to build a new rail network between Sydney and Melbourne.

“It’s been a slow recovery from what has been a pretty tough period,” the CEO of Sydney’s Metro Rail, David Dyson, said on Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get back to business as usual in terms of capacity and on the ground level.”

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the Government was working hard to build capacity for trains to deliver services to the CBD and that it had secured “significant funding” for the project.

“Rail is the next best thing,” he said.

Mr Constance conceded that the project was “going to be difficult to do in the short term”, but said that would be the “realisation of the full potential of rail”.

“It is the fastest, cheapest and most reliable option to move goods around the country.”

Sydney’s Metropolitan Rail Link will be the largest rail project in Australia, but the state’s rail operator, Metro Rail Australia, said the new line would not be operational until 2028, after which time the State Government would be responsible for paying the entire cost of the project and ensuring that the new track and signalling infrastructure would be up to code.

Metro Rail said the project would be built “without taxpayer subsidies”, but that the money had been secured from a federal government project.

The Federal Government has pledged to build two new railways from the northern suburbs to the northern coast and the Federal Highway Authority has pledged $5 billion for the development of a new interstate line between Sydney’s northern beaches and the northern city of Canberra.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government would be investing $10 billion over the next five years in improving the state and local transport infrastructure.

“Australia needs to be moving to a world class rail network for the next 100 years,” he told the ABC.

“The sooner we get that right the better off we will be in the long term.”

Mr Frydenburg said he expected the Federal government to “go through all of the planning, all of those processes” for Metro Rail.

He also promised to deliver on the $10 million rail fund promised by the State Governments Budget to the Federal Infrastructure Commission, which was used to pay for rail improvements.

“That’s a good starting point to start with,” he added. Loading