In the News

11 April 2-13 – Great to see that the report on a high speed rail network between Melbourne and Brisbane released today indicates that despite the huge cost, it’s expected that the investment will return $2.30 for every dollar spent.

The report, by AECOM, and released by  Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese, estimates total capital cost of $114 billion comprising $10.4 billion in project development costs and $103.6 billion for construction.

Almost one third of the construction cost, or 29 per cent, would be for 144km of tunnels, which is just 8 per cent of the route length.

A statement from Mr Albanese’s office today said:

The second and final stage of the Gillard Labor Government’s landmark study into the economic merits and financial viability of an east coast high speed rail network is underway following the retention of AECOM, the lead author of the interim report.

Following a competitive tendering process, this leading global consultancy now has the opportunity to complete the work it started almost a year ago — and to do so it has assembled a consortium which brings together a broad range of expertise: KPMG, SKM, ACIL Tasman, Booz & Co, Hyder and Grimshaw Architects.

Over the next 12 months, the work done in Stage One and the findings contained in the interim report will be further tested and refined.

AECOM and its partners will determine with greater precision the alignment of the track and station locations, improve the accuracy of the costs associated with building and operating the network, re-evaluate patronage projections, and recommend financing options along with possible governance arrangements.

Since its release in early August, more than 316,000 copies of the interim report have been downloaded from my Department’s website—an indication of widespread community interest in this technology.

Indeed High Speed Rail could be a game-changer, with the potential to better integrate our regional and metropolitan communities, ease congestion on our roads and at our airports as well as provide a new foundation for a low carbon, high productivity economy.

However, this kind of monumental endeavour must take place in a deliberate, thoughtful manner. The work we’re undertaking is all about planning for Australia’s future, not just for the next five years but for the next five decades.

Copies of the interim report along with the Terms of Reference for the study can be downloaded from:

Interim Report: Key Findings

Based on the preliminary work undertaken as part of the Study’s first stage, an eastern seaboard network connecting Brisbane to Melbourne via Canberra, Sydney and a range of regional centres would:

  • Cost between $61 billion and $108 billion to build and involve laying more than 1600 kilometres of new standard-gauge, double-track.
  • Achieve speeds of up 350 kilometres per hour and offer journey times as low as three hours from Sydney to Brisbane, and just 40 minutes from Sydney to Newcastle.
  • Carry around 54 million passengers a year by 2036 including, for example, about half those who would have flown between Sydney and Melbourne—currently the world’s fifth busiest air corridor.
  • Offer competitive ticket prices, with one way fares from Brisbane to Sydney costing $75$177; Sydney to Melbourne $99-$197; and $16.50 for daily commuters between Newcastle and Sydney.
  • Cut carbon pollution, with emissions per passenger a third of what a car emits and each full train—450 passengers—equivalent to taking 128 cars off the road.

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  1. The key thing is to get cross-party support. That’s the reason for the success of HSR in Europe, and increasingly, in the UK.

    For example, HS2 in England will lead north from London to Birmingham, then Manchester, Leeds and eventually to points north. That would never have been achieved without cross-party support. The project was conceived by the Labour administration, and wholeheartedly supported by the Conservatives and Liberals. In the case of the Conservatives, this support was at the expense of some of their own rural electorates. That takes leadership.

    Can we imagine that Abbot will support this? If not, it’s history…