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Rebuild solution post-COVID-19
IT has been the most “born again” project in Australian transport history, but High Speed Rail is back on the public agenda courtesy of Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

Mr Albanese is arguing for High Speed Rail to be a central part of the rebuilding of Australia’s economy following the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Albanese raised the idea in a recent Shadow Cabinet meeting, calling on Prime Minister Morrison to use it as a springboard back to prosperity.

High Speed Rail has been investigated by every Federal Government since 1980 with proponents citing successful launches overseas. However, Australia’s vast distances, combined with its challenging geography and city layouts, have been the major stumbling blocks.

Sydney to Melbourne is one of the world’s busiest airline routes, so it would be the most logical link to introduce High Speed trains,

Western Sydney would play a key role in the development of the system as it is sure to link with the new Western Sydney Airport complex.

Mr Albanese believes the High Speed Rail project, along with accompanying decentralization, should be pursued by the Federal Government as a way to recover and create a more resilient nation.

Mr Albanese also wants to combine a commitment to High Speed Rail with local train manufacturing.

“We must invest in nation-building infrastructure including iconic projects like High Speed Rail and we should be building trains here,”

“Government procurement policy in rail manufacturing has produced superior outcomes to imports and created regional jobs in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.”

In 2019, Labor took a $1B land acquisition policy for High Speed Rail to the Federal election, however the Coalition has not pursued high speed rail during its time in office.

In April, Shadow Transport spokeswoman Catherine King nominated High Speed Rail as an “economic game changer” and indicated Federal Labor’s continuing support for a High Speed Rail network linking population centres down the Eastern seaboard. Ms King also said investment in High Speed Rail would encourage economic growth in regional communities.

At the time, Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the government’s focus was building the Inland Rail project and pursuing faster rail projects.

“While I have long been an advocate for high-speed rail in Australia, given the significant costs outlined in the reports conducted between 2010 and 2013, my focus is currently on delivering the inland rail and faster rail proposals which the Federal government has committed to” Mr  McCormack said.

Ms King said  building a High Speed  network along the eastern seaboard would be able to cut travel times significantly.

“High-speed rail has the potential to revolutionise interstate travel, allowing travel between capital cities in as little as three hours,” Ms King said.

With regional areas also reeling from the impact of the bushfires earlier in 2020, she said the project had the potential to inject economic activity into regional economies, as Inland Rail was currently doing.

“If the government is interested in creating jobs and boosting regional economies, it should seriously consider investing in high-speed rail now,” Ms King said.

In 2019, Labor took to the election a $1B promise to set aside land for an East Coast high speed rail corridor.

Between 2010 and 2013 the Australian government looked into the possibility of a 1748km route from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

With a speed of 350km/hr this would make the travel times between Sydney and Melbourne and Sydney and Brisbane below three hours, the threshold for passengers to swap from air to train travel according to the Australasian Railway Association.

The route alignment mapped out in 2013 also included regional stops such as in Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga, Shepparton, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour and Grafton. The cost of linking Sydney and Melbourne with high speed rail would be around $50B.

Source: Rail Express      



Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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