$114 billion fare for fastest rail link

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$114 billion fare for fastest rail link

EXCLUSIVE by Simon Benson
The Daily Telegraph
April 11, 2013 12:00AM

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THE federal government’s dream of a 350km/h rail link between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would cost $114 billion and involve 67km of tunnels under the heart of Sydney.

It would also transform Australia by cutting travel time between Sydney and Brisbane to just two hours and 37 minutes, and two hours and 44 minutes between Sydney and Melbourne.

A final report into the project, which the Gillard government is expected to give in-principle agreement to, admits that nothing of its scale has been tried anywhere in Australia.

It claims most of the project would have to be funded by government, with the returns of about 1 per cent falling well short to make the project commercially viable.

The $20 million feasibility study commissioned in 2010, to be released today, outlines a regional route from Sydney to Brisbane with stops at Central Coast, Newcastle, Taree, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour before reaching the Gold Coast and then Brisbane – taking three hours and nine minutes.

It would reach the Central Coast in 27 minutes, Newcastle in 39 minutes and Coffs Harbour in 1 hour 50 minutes.

The express, travelling at a top speed of 350km/h and an average 300km/h, would take just two hours and 37 minutes.

To the south, it would stop at the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton before reaching Melbourne in three hours and three minutes, or, as an express, in two hours and 44 minutes.

It would also involve a spur line to Canberra, taking just over an hour from Sydney.

It is envisaged that by 2065, the service would cater for 111 million passenger trips, running 18 hours a day, all year. The report also said significant issues included noise pollution, while environmental and planning laws would also present hurdles.

The report estimates that 144km of tunnel would have to be built to carry the bullet train, with the largest single section of 67km underneath Sydney.

Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, a proponent of an east coast high-speed line, welcomed the report and said it had the potential to be a “game changer” for the way Australians, live, work and holiday.

“It also has the capacity to better integrate our regional and metropolitan communities, ease congestion on our roads as well as provide a new foundation for a low carbon, high productivity economy,” Mr Albanese said.

“Already this technology is being rolled out across the globe with clear economic, productivity, lifestyles and environmental benefits.”

The report says that high-speed rail could produce economic benefits to Australia’s economy in the order of $2.30 for every dollar invested and cut carbon emissions from the transport sector.

The government will seek public comment until June 30 and set up a high level advisory group to consult with industry on how it could be delivered.

The Daily Telegraph did not seek comment from the Coalition on the report, according to a strict condition of the government releasing the report.

The condition comes two days after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy criticised The Daily Telegraph for not seeking his comment before the release of a Coalition NBN policy.

One thought on “$114 billion fare for fastest rail link

  1. Neville

    10 April, 2013

    This is pie in the sky stuff. Govt’s will spend untold Millions on studies into VFT proposals. This money would be
    much better spent on Hospitals and other areas, which are desperate for funding.
    The suggestion of a North Coast corridor is ridiculous due
    to the severe weather events causing severe flooding on our
    coastlines.Climate Change is being ignored.

    O’Farrell’s concept of running fasr trains from Canberra to
    Sydney in conjunction with the airport at Canberra is typical
    of the lack of knowledge our pollies have.We will now see many ill-informed reports suggesting impossible options
    which will cost billions of tax-payers money.

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