Last week, the Australasian Railway Association claimed that Australia was being ‘left behind’ as the only continent without a high-speed rail network.
The federal government released a study last August on the feasibility of a high-speed rail system on the east coast, linking Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. The $20-million study said a 1,600-kilometre speed network could reduce travel time between Melbourne and Sydney to three hours, with customers needing to pay $99 for the trip.
The proposed Melbourne to Sydney high-speed rail network could cost between $61 billion and $108 billion. Due to the very high cost of the project, the government has commissioned a second study, due to be finished by November 2012.
Should a project of this scale get the green light, it would see major tunnelling construction work expected to begin in 2014. It would be the biggest transport infrastructure project in Sydney since work started 90 years ago on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and supplement the harbour and rail network system being put in place across Australia to serve the storage and rail and sea transport requirements of the country’s booming resources sector.