21st Century Infrastructure
High speed rail’s time has come, but Australia needs courage and vision to get it moving. The old parties, stuck in the short- term political cycle, lack the will to really embrace this nation-building project. Only the Greens have a vision and a plan to build a clean, efficient, transport future.
Just when we need to improve the affordability and connectedness between our South-Eastern cities, boost the opportunities of our regional centres, support manufacturing jobs and reduce our transport emissions, the promises of High Speed Rail are here. The Greens stand ready to deliver them.
As part of the agreement to support the minority Labor government, the Australian Greens secured a $20 million feasibility study into high speed rail. That feasibility study demonstrated that it will cut pollution, enhance business and passenger transport and generate positive economic returns.
Transforming A Vision Into A Reality
Every continent except Antarctica and Australia is operating or developing High Speed Rail. It is a standard mode of travel for those living in Europe, Japan and China. The United States of America is set to join them as they begin construction in September on their 1,300km San Francisco–Los Angeles line. The Greens are the only party with the long-term vision to start work on the proposed routes along Eastern Australia now:
- Line 1: Sydney to Melbourne (2 hours 44 mins) comprising of Canberra to Sydney (1 hour) and Melbourne to Canberra (2 1⁄2 hours).
- Line 2: Sydney to Brisbane (2 hours 37 mins) comprising of Sydney to Newcastle (40 mins); and Newcastle to the Gold Coast and Gold Coast to Brisbane.
Once complete, the High Speed Rail will stretch 1,750km linking 11 major cities and regions all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane. It would pass through the regional centres of Coffs Harbour, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Central Coast.i
The commissioned phase two report laid down a plan for rolling out the High Speed Rail Project in several stages. The Greens will implement the accelerated timetable envisaged in the report. The preliminary requirements are preparing an investment plan, mapping the most appropriate routes, securing those rail corridors through agreement with the states and submitting a suite of comprehensive environmental assessments.
To begin this nation-transforming project, the Greens are committing to fast track high speed rail. We will:
- Fast-track intergovernmental agreements and legislation to get high speed rail moving.
- Establish a dedicated High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) to develop and manage the project. The Authority would be responsible for:
- Preparing a detailed financing and investment plan for the project.
- Surveying the best rail corridors with the relevant state and local governments
- Secure ownership of those routes and confirm the development and operation plan of the project through an inter-governmental agreement.
- Commence a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.
Once all these preliminary requirements have been achieved, construction will be ready to commence. This proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $664 million over the forward estimates period, plus the costs of the Environmental Impact statement (EIS). The EIS has been costed at $570 million. The Greens have budgeted for the full cost of the EIS but note it may not be completed over the forward estimate period. 100% of this cost will be funded by the Commonwealth government without any assistance or cost sharing with state governments or private enterprise.
i High Speed Rail Study Phase 2 Report page 8.