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This report finds that rail construction and maintenance activity in Australia will rise to $14.4 billion per year over the next five years, increasing from a record year that saw $12.9 billion in rail civil construction and maintenance activity in 2021-22.

Key messages:

  • The forecast for railway construction activity over the short to medium term is driven by a strong, funded pipeline spanning heavy haul, freight and passenger projects. A positive longer-term outlook is driven by population growth; urban expansion; and environmental concerns, particularly the need to reduce carbon emissions in Australia’s transport sector to help meet critical climate targets.
  • Australian railway construction activity is set to continue to rise over the coming years, peaking at $13.3 billion in 2023- 24. This growth is driven by publicly funded major projects across the east coast states. Activity is set to remain above current levels until 2026-27 before dropping to $8.6 billion in 2031-32.
  • Rail maintenance activity is expected to increase each year over the forecast period for each state and territory. This is due to the need to maintain a growing rail network, but also reflects rising rail remediation works given the increasing frequency of climate change-influenced events (floods, droughts, bushfires and coastal erosion) impacting the Australian rail network.
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