Canberra, Australia (Urban Transport News): The Australian Government is moving a step closer to high-speed rail by introducing legislation to establish the High Speed Rail Authority.
The Authority will build on previous work including the comprehensive study, commissioned under former Infrastructure Minister and now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, that found high speed rail was not only viable, but would return over $2 for every $1 of investment.
A high-speed rail network could allow passengers to travel between major cities and significant regional cities at speeds exceeding 250 km/h.
The first priority of the Authority will be planning and corridor works for the Sydney to Newcastle section of the high-speed rail network, backed by a $500 million commitment from the Australian Government.
This commitment will see corridor planning and early works progress in this fast-growing region of the east coast.
While the Authority works closely with the New South Wales Government on this section, it will continue to advance plans for other sections of the high-speed rail network, which will eventually connect Brisbane to Melbourne, with stops in Canberra, Sydney and regional centres.
The Authority will provide independent advice to governments on high speed rail planning and delivery, and will lead the coordination with states and territories.
The Authority will be overseen by a Board, drawn from experts in the rail and infrastructure sector.
Faster rail will also continue to be advanced under the Authority, with the functions of the National Faster Rail Agency being undertaken within the Authority and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.
High speed rail will revolutionise interstate travel on the east coast, providing a fast alternative for people to move between cities and regional centres, promoting sustainable settlement patterns and creating broad economic benefits for regional centres.
“High-speed rail offers the promise to change the lives of millions of Australians, especially in our regions, while also bringing our east coast capitals closer together. This is a visionary investment in opening up our regions to greater opportunity," said Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King.
“A high-speed rail network recognises the importance of prosperity in our regions, which will benefit from enhanced connection to our major cities and international gateways. No project captures the imagination of Australians quite like high-speed rail, and we are committed to realising the massive benefits this project could bring," she added.
“This is a long-term project, but with the pragmatic advice of the High Speed Rail Authority we can take a genuine path forward,” she added.