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Australia’s Biggest Infrastructure Trends

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Following on from an article earlier this year, we want to take a look at how infrastructure is progressing throughout Australia.

Infrastructure is among the most important sectors in the Australian economy, contributing more than 10 per cent in gross value added and accounting for a substantial share of employment. Australia ranks as a world leader in infrastructure development, although we are currently facing many challenges within the sector.

International and internal migration trends have driven rapid growth in the big cities, especially Melbourne and Sydney. This has created substantial issues regarding adequate housing, infrastructure and services.

Australia’s population is forecast to hit 31.4 million people over the next 15 years. According to Infrastructure Australia, spending in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth is failing to keep pace with population growth, especially in the outer suburbs.

Urban fringes are particularly stretched due to the population boom. $600 billion of spending will be needed over the next 15 years, Infrastructure Australia said.

Migration trends are not the only thing on city planners’ minds. They are facing a diverse range of challenges, such as swift urbanisation, aging infrastructure, extreme weather conditions, increasing maintenance backlogs, and rapidly growing cities.

Although reports suggest that an investment of $200 billion for infrastructure is required every five years to keep up with population growth, the recent budget sees a much smaller investment.

The federal government has committed just $100 billion over 10 years.

We are, however, seeing a strong commitment from the Government with the development of Metro Stations. Metro stations are undoubtedly a key piece of infrastructure within the community, and fortunately, more and more of these are popping up across the country. 

These developments offer more than just an affordable and efficient means of transport; as we move towards a more people-centric future, they can serve as a connecting link to housing, retail and employment options. As urban populations continue to grow, there is an opportunity to transform metro stations from transit points into commercial, residential and recreational hubs that ultimately improve liveability. 

In NSW, the Government has announced that construction will begin shortly on the Western Sydney Metro, following confirmation of seven station locations. With construction set to begin in 2020, the new Metro Stations will be located at Westmead, Parramatta, Sydney Olympic Park, North Strathfield, Burwood North, Five Dock and the Bays Precinct.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the $20-billion project will create around 10,000 jobs directly, as well as 70,000 indirectly. A global search will be undertaken to find suppliers capable of building massive 50 kilometres of a new metro railway tunnel. This exciting project will become the longest railway tunnel ever built in Australia and the biggest tunnelling contract awarded in Australian history. 

Meanwhile, the construction of the Metro Tunnel is Melbourne’s biggest rail project since the 1970s. It involves building 9 kilometres of twin rail tunnels and five underground stations from North Melbourne through to the Domain precinct, south of the CBD.

This is the first ‘turn up and go’ rail system for Melbourne, signalling the start of a new technological era for Victoria. 

A number of Australian and global companies are building the Metro Tunnel, with construction split across several work packages including:

  • John Holland KBR: early works to relocate services and prepare the construction sites.
  • Cross Yarra Partnership consortium involving Lendlease Engineering, John Holland, Bouygues Construction and Capella Capital: Public Private Partnership to build the new tunnel and stations.
  • Beon Energy Solutions: construction power.
  • CPB Contractors and Bombardier Transportation: rail systems including signalling and systems integration work.
  • Yarra Trams: tram infrastructure works.
  • Consortium comprising John Holland, CPB Contractors and AECOM: rail infrastructure works including the tunnel portals and realignment of existing rail lines.

Construction of the much-anticipated tunnel is due for completion in 2025.

Along with the projects mentioned above, the government has many more infrastructure projects either committed to or currently under construction. These include WestConnex, the Sydney Metro City & Southwest, the Inland Rail, Victoria’s West Gate Tunnel and the Cross River Rail in Queensland.

There are more projects still in the proposal stage, such as the $16.5 million North East Link, the Sydney Harbour rail tunnel, and the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport Rail Link.

To ensure a safer and more efficient transport network for all Australians, the Government is increasing investment in key freight routes and national networks, including $1 billion for the Princes Highway and $400 million for Newell Highway Upgrades.

Significant upgrades will also continue to be made to the Pacific Highway in New South Wales, the Bruce Highway in Queensland, the North-South Corridor in South Australia and the Midland Highway in Tasmania. The Government’s Roads of Strategic Importance initiative is also supporting important regional freight corridors like $510 million towards the Toowoomba to Seymour corridor between New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, and $235 million to the Alice Springs to Halls Creek corridor in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

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