Moving forward with high speed rail
The Hon Anthony Albanese MP
The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport
Regional Development and Local Government
Leader of the House
Member for Grayndler
August 5 2010
A re-elected Gillard Labor Government will undertake a detailed feasibility and corridor study to determine the economic viability of, and identify potential routes for, a high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia.
This is about the Gillard Labor Government’s vision for moving the nation and economy into the future, increasing productivity, supporting a sustainable population and tackling climate change.
We are committed to supporting our major cities and tackling the increasing productivity costs of urban and traffic congestion.
High speed rail has the potential to cut travel times for people commuting between capital cities like Sydney and growing regional cities like Newcastle and Gosford.
Nearly 10 million people live along the east coast between Brisbane and Melbourne, which requires ongoing investment in modern transport infrastructure.
The feasibility study will build on previous preliminary work on this issue by identifying potential rail corridors, undertaking geotechnical and engineering investigations and doing the financial and economic modelling to determine the project’s viability.
It will examine the network between Brisbane and Melbourne, with a specific focus on the geotechnical analysis and preservation of the corridor between Sydney and Newcastle.
International experience shows that high speed rail requires special trains, dedicated tracks and networks and modern signalling systems capable of serving the network.
This announcement builds on the Federal Labor Government’s record $9 billion investment in the nation’s railways, which has delivered more than 10 times the funding provided by the former Coalition government.
In fact, more than $4.5 billion of the Fedral Labor Government’s investment is supporting urban passenger rail and public transport infrastructure.
Only one side of politics can be trusted to have an economic plan that invests in and supports rail and public transport. That side is Labor.
Tony Abbott, as a senior member of the former Coalition Government, refused to spend even one dollar on public transport infrastructure.
In a newsletter to his constituents Mr Abbott even declared all ‘transport infrastructure is a state responsibility’ and the provision of Federal funding for such projects to be as silly as ‘…the State Government hav[ing] to buy new tanks for the army.’
The high speed rail feasibility study will:
- Identify possible undeveloped land corridors and/or existing corridors to support a high speed railway network.
- Establish high-level estimates of construction costs.
- Undertake geotechnical investigations in targeted areas to determine the need for tunnelling or alternative corridor alignments.
- Identify the level of patronage that would be compatible with an economically-competitive and viable project.
- Survey potential travel patterns to help inform station location options and market analysis on the relative value of city centre and other city rail terminals, including possible links to airports.
- Assess viability of the project in the context of public and private financing options and of possible economic returns such as congestion and other infrastructure investment.
High speed rail is already well-advanced in Europe and Japan, with China now building new state of the art high speed rail networks to service their major cities.
The Gillard Labor Government’s study will be undertaken by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.
It will draw upon other expertise within the Commonwealth, State, Territory and local governments, the tourism and transport industries, the private sector, experts as well as consider the depth of international experience.
The study will cost up to $20 million, commencing later this year and will be expected to take about 18 months to be completed.
Funding for this contribution will be fully offset over the forward estimates, consistent with the Gillard Labor Government’s commitment to return the budget to surplus in three years.