Budget 2024: The roads, rail and regional hotspots getting billions

Karen Dellow
Karen Dellow

The 2024 federal budget has unveiled a range of initiatives aimed at tackling Australia's housing issues head-on, but it's also provided billions of dollars to build more infrastructure across the country.

The measures include bolstering the supply of new housing, including social and affordable options, amidst record-low housing and rental affordability, all while grappling with cost-of-living pressures.

A significant focal point of investment lies in Western Sydney, with an additional $1.9 billion allocated for priority road and rail projects.

This region has witnessed remarkable residential construction growth in recent years to accommodate its burgeoning population.

However, further public transport and road systems are imperative to effectively connect this expanding populace with central Sydney, the forthcoming airport, and a proposed business park.

Key infrastructure commitments - Budget 2024-25

QLD South East Queensland rail:  $1.15b to fund the construction of the line from Beerwah to Caloundra. In addition, $226.7m has been allocated to the in Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade, and $431.7m for the Coomera Connector Stage 1 project.
QLD Inland Rail Route:  $720m will be earmarked for the construction of the Inland Freight Route in Queensland.
QLD Bruce Highway:  $467m for upgrades
QLD Road improvements:  $134.5m for the Mt Crosby Road Interchange Upgrade and $42.5m for Bremer River Bridge (Westbound) Strengthening on the Warrego Highway in Queensland.
NSW Western Sydney Airport and infrastructure:  $1.9b for priority road and rail projects, and an additional $100m for zero-emission rapid bas infrastructure. An additional $302.6m over 5 years to enable federal authorities to operate at the airport.
NT Remote housing:  $2.1b will be provided as part of a joint $4b investment with the Northern Territory Government for housing in remote communities, as part of a 10-year housing agreement.
NT Rural roads:  $72m for the Port Keats Road – Wadeye to Palumpa (Nganmarriyanga) in the Northern Territory, and $64m for the Berrimah Road Duplication – Stuart Highway to Tiger Brennan Drive in the Northern Territory; $25m for the Carpentaria Highway Upgrade.
SA Road improvements:  $120m for the Mount Barker and Verdun Interchange Upgrades in South Australia; $100m for the South Eastern Freeway Upgrade.
TAS Roads package: Tasmania will receive $219m in a roads package funding existing and new projects, including $124m for new highway upgrades and corridor planning, and $95m for existing projects.
WA Metronet: An additional $1.4b has been provided for existing METRONET projects.
WA High-Capacity Signalling:  $300m has been allocated to a new High-Capacity Signalling program.
WA Rural road upgrades: $54m for the Regional Road Safety Program – State Roads in Western Australia.
VIC North East Link: An additional $3.25b has been provided to the project.
VIC Regional rail: $290.1m has been allocated to the Gippsland Rail Line Upgrade, and $150m to upgrade the Maroona-Portland Rail Line.
VIC Road improvements: $17.6m for projects in Victoria, including $12m for the Bridgewater Road and Portland Ring Road intersection upgrade.
Source: Federal Budget 2024-25: Infrastructure

The government has set its sights on erecting 200,000 new homes in western Sydney by 2036, with already substantial numbers established in growing suburbs like Box Hill, Marsden Park, Schofields, and Leppington.

Given the influx of new residents and commuters flocking to these areas, robust road and rail networks are needed.

West Hoxton is one of the new suburbs in western Sydney that will benefit from improved infrastructure. Image: Getty

Federal transport minister Catherine King said these projects would help underpin the fundamental shift of jobs and growth to Sydney's west.

In Queensland, an extra $1.15 billion has been earmarked for stage one of the Sunshine Coast rail link, bridging Beerwah to Caloundra.

With the Sunshine Coast's population currently surpassing 370,000 and growing steadily, infrastructure endeavors must match this expansion.

Upon completion, the Sunshine Coast Rail Line promises swifter, more dependable, and environmentally sustainable connections between the Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Brisbane.

Caloundra will eventually be connected to Brisbane by the Sunshine Coast Rail Line. Image: Getty

Canberra is also poised to receive a boost in public transport funding, with a $50 million infusion slated to aid in constructing a segment of the planned light rail line.

This line, once operational, will seamlessly connect Gungahlin, the City Centre, and Woden, with construction on the Lake Burley Griffin to Woden section set to commence in 2028.

Victoria's North East Link road received a substantial budgetary increase, with an additional $3.25 billion allocated to the project.

The North East Link tunnels, which comprise three integral projects and span 6.5km from Watsonia to Bulleen, stand out for their anticipated impact.

Upon completion, these tunnels are expected to divert 15,000 trucks daily from local roads and slash travel times by up to 35 minutes.

Parts of North East Link under construction in Melbourne. Image: Getty

With every state receiving funding for regional projects as outlined in the table, the overarching aim is to match the imminent surge in housing construction with proportional road and rail infrastructure development.

The $16.5 billion investment in new and existing infrastructure projects over the next decade underscores the government's commitment to ensuring seamless connectivity and accessibility to jobs and services across Australia's urban and regional landscapes.

Check out more Insights on the latest budget

How the federal budget’s housing measures stack up

Federal Budget 2024: $6.2b housing splash

Federal Budget 2024: Housing package slammed as ‘business as usual’

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