Standing up for Canberra

Final high speed rail study released with clear benefits for Canberra region

Today’s release of the second and final report into High Speed Rail has been welcomed by representatives from the ACT, Gai Brodtmann, Kate Lundy and Andrew Leigh.

This landmark study fulfils a key 2010 election commitment, and reflects Labor’s vision and determination to move Australia and its economy towards a low carbon, high productivity and even more prosperous future.

High Speed Rail (HSR) connecting Canberra with Melbourne, Sydney and on to Brisbane has the potential to be a game-changer, transforming the way Canberrans live, work and take holidays.

It also has the capacity to ease congestion on our roads as well as provide a new foundation for a low carbon, high productivity economy.

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

The report was prepared for the Federal Government by a consortium led by 
AECOM and comprising Grimshaw Architects, KPMG, Sinclair Knight Merz, Acil Tasman, Booz & Co and Hyder and it identifies a potential route for HSR between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.  It estimates the costs and benefits of HSR, and investigates a raft of issues including construction, patronage, environmental, and urban and regional development.

The study concludes that once fully operational, HSR could carry 84 million passengers each year, with express journey times of just 64 minutes between Sydney and Canberra.  Such a network has the potential to deliver a net economic benefit and generate sufficient revenue to cover its operating and asset renewal costs.

But equally, HSR would be a monumental endeavour, with very real technical, logistical and financial challenges.  That’s why we must take a deliberate, thoughtful approach and this report provides a comprehensive analysis on which an informed public debate is now possible.

To this end, Minister Anthony Albanese is today initiating a comprehensive program of public consultation and debate on the role HSR could play in Australia’s transport future.  As part of this, he is inviting feedback and views on the report and its findings from all interested parties by 30 June 2013.

The full report and feedback forms are available at: www.infrastructure.gov.au/hsr.

The Department’s HSR Unit is also embarking on detailed consultations with industry, local governments and community groups.

A high level HSR Advisory Group is also being established to work along with the HSR Unit in directly advising the Government on key industry and community issues arising out of the report.

Minister Albanese has written to the Premiers of Queensland, NSW and Victoria, as well as the ACT Chief Minister, seeking their formal views on the report and nominations to a new Ministerial Group charged with coordinating the next steps for HSR across jurisdictions.