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Moving Australia Forward – Part 1: Transport Infrastructure in Australia

July 11, 2022

Australia continues to experience an infrastructure boom as local, state, and federal government funding grows. Increasingly, the focus of this investment is on sustainable long term transport infrastructure which will prove critical to sustained economic growth moving forward.

This article forms the first in a four-part series exploring the various considerations relevant to transportation infrastructure across Australia. This series will focus on three key infrastructure transport sectors, rail, bus, and highways, assessing various legal questions and considerations relevant from project inception through to practical completion.

As Australia faces increased demand for sustainable and long-term transport solutions, projects associated with rail, buses and highways have become more popular. However, these projects often face unique and uncertain challenges which all parties should understand before project commencement.

Current Investment in Rail and Bus Networks

Australia’s sustained investment in rail and bus projects include the following key projects across major Australian cities:

  1. Cross River Rail in Brisbane (Qld) (estimated value – $5.5 billion);
  2. METRONET in Perth (WA) (estimated value – $4.1 billion);
  3. Melbourne’s new Airport Rail Link (Vic) (estimated value – $5 billion);
  4. the Brisbane Metro (Qld) (estimated value – $1 billion);
  5. the Sydney Metro (NSW) (estimated value – $12 billion);
  6. the Melbourne Metro (Vic) (estimated value – $13.7 billion);
  7. the Parramatta Light Rail (NSW) (estimated value – $2.4 billion);
  8. Inland Rail between Melbourne and Brisbane (Vic, NSW, Qld) (estimated value – $10 billion); and
  9. the Gold Cost Light Rail (Qld) (estimated value – $1 billion).

Current Investment in Highways

Further to the above mentioned transport infrastructure projects and investment in rail and bus based projects, funding has also been increasingly focused on complex highway projects across Australia. These such projects include:

  1. WestConnex (NSW) (estimated value – $16 billion);
  2. Bruce Highway Upgrade Program (Qld) (estimated value – $8.5 billion);
  3. West Gate Tunnel (Vic) (estimated value – $6.8 billion);
  4. Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan (NSW) (estimated value – $2.9 billion);
  5. M80 Ring Road Upgrade (Vic) (estimated value – $2.25 billion); and
  6. Princes Highway Upgrade (NSW) (estimated value – $450 million).

Ongoing Federal Funding

These projects are underpinned by the Federal Government’s investment of $110 billion over the next 10 years in Australian transport infrastructure. This indicates that a continued expansion and development of projects within the various infrastructure network which underpins transport across Australia.

Since 2013 the Federal Government has invested in more than 1,300 major land transport infrastructure projects under the Infrastructure Investment Program. As a part of this, over 500 projects have been completed and more than a further 300 are currently under construction or underway.

This represents an ongoing investment in transport infrastructure as it continues to be a critical tool to generate economic growth and development. Given this, such investment is likely to continue to grow well into the foreseeable future.

Legal Considerations

Transport infrastructure projects often involve complex legal and commercial matters which require adequate consideration during initial project stages to ensure long-term success. Through seeking legal advice early in a project’s lifecycle, legal matters can be addressed in an effective and efficient manner, while assisting in the adoption of appropriate governance structures to maximise project performance.

Often where parties are fully informed of risks in advance of commencing a project, and the parties are clear where such risks rest, best for project outcomes can be facilitated.

Given the growing uncertainty within the infrastructure sphere as supply costs continue to rise and government covid restrictions remain subject to change, parties should remain aware of their contractual rights and obligations to ensure successful completion of projects.

Lamont Project and Construction Lawyers

The Lamont Project and Construction Lawyers team is highly skilled in dealing with transport infrastructure projects, their unique challenges and implementing contractual frameworks which best align with project objectives.

Through working alongside client’s during a projects infancy we can maximise the long-term benefits to our clients. Our comprehensive understanding and experienced working across a project’s lifecycle allow a tailored approach that adopts applicable governance and assistance structures, that contractual rights and obligations are effectively administered, and disputes can be managed efficiently.

This full-service holistic approach allows our team to be deployed across the lifecycle of a project as it becomes required, and deal with matters in a way tailored to addressing the unique challenges in complex transport infrastructure projects.

If you have any questions about your current or future projects, please do not hesitate to contact Lamont Project and Construction Lawyers for a discussion on how we can assist you.