New authority to fast track work on high speed rail

Legislation has been introduced to parliament to establish a High Speed Rail Authority, which will absorb the National Fast Rail Agency and begin work on the first section of the east coast network.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie

The HSRA’s first priority will be planning and corridor works for the Sydney to Newcastle section of the ambitious eastern seaboard project, which will be funded by a $500 million down payment allocated in Labor’s October budget.

The new authority, a statutory body to be overseen by a board of rail and infrastructure experts, will also continue to advance plans for other sections of the high-speed network, which will eventually connect Brisbane to Melbourne, Infrastructure minister Catherine King said in a statement last week.

The HSRA will advise the government and lead state and federal coordination in the project, which will see trains travelling at 250 km/h and more along the east coast, with stops in Canberra, Sydney and regional centres.

Opportunity for the regions

Ms King described the high-speed rail network as a ‘visionary investment that would open up the regions to more opportunity.

“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,” she said.

“This is a long-term project, but with the pragmatic advice of the High Speed Rail Authority we can take a genuine path forward.”

A fast rail would make it possible to travel from Sydney to Newcastle in 45 minutes and from Sydney Gosford in just over half an hour, the government says.

Labor went to the election with a commitment to establish a high speed rail authority, saying NSW government projections showed the population of the Central Coast and Hunter Valley is set to grow by 200,000 by 2040, making better transport connections a necessity.

Anthony Albanese has described the vision as ‘smart regionalism’ and a recognition that the prosperity of regions can be improved by better connections to big population centres and international gateways.

The next priority for the HSRA after the Sydney-Newcastle corridor would be working sections connecting Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, Mr Albanese said.

Investment in faster rail still needed

Australasian Railway Association Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said ARA looked forward to engaging with government as the Authority is established.

Significant improvements to the speed, reliability and frequency of existing networks can be achieved through shorter term rail upgrades … These short and medium term investments must be considered alongside planning for a vision for high speed rail.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie

“The delivery of a transformational infrastructure project such as high speed rail will require considerable planning and consultation, and the Authority will support these needs,” she told Government News

Ms Wilkie said priorities for the new HSRA should be identifying a route for high speed rail, preserving the rail corridor and exploring funding models.

“The establishment of the High Speed Rail Authority is a positive step towards achieving this and ultimately revolutionising travel on the east coast of Australia,” she said.

However Ms Wilkie said it was important not to lose sight of short to medium term investment in faster rail, as well as the longer term focus on high speed rail.

“Significant improvements to the speed, reliability and frequency of existing networks can be achieved through shorter term rail upgrades, while dedicated faster rail projects can help make rail travel times more competitive with driving on key transport routes,” she said.

“These short and medium term investments must be considered alongside planning for a vision for high speed rail.”

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6 thoughts on “New authority to fast track work on high speed rail

  1. If they haven’t abandoned the 2013 Phase 2 Study notion of bringing HSR from Newcastle into Sydney Central station something is really wrong.

    Likewise if they don’t realise the scope for connecting lower Hunter towns (which already have old rail or old rail corridors) with a fast exchange/transfer to the HSR.

    A spur line from Gosford/Woy Woy to transfer express trains onto the HSR Mainline from Newcastle should also be a consideration rather than the Phase 2 notion of a Central Coast Station away from the Coast or Gosford.

  2. My understanding is that Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) roughed out a route for an high speed rail joining Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, and Brisbane some years ago.

  3. Unless out of this new authority there is a agreement and the real setting aside route corridors, then the piecemeal approach to just enhancing a particular sections of the existing corridors. So, the best we will get. is minor enhancements.

    No significant benefits likely till we tackle the major issues is Getting in or out of the Sydney Basin to anywhere . So, Hawkesbury river area, Blue Mountains and South out of the MacarthurRegion ,Past Berrima these are all large number of tunneling projects where the first Billions will be quickly expended.

    The Key is HSR needs long straight and flat track. This means Tunnels in the case of the Sydney Basin.

  4. Why is the Commonwealth and NSW Government’s looking North when when there is the opportunity to UPGRADE an Existing Line between Queanbeyan and Bombala with an extension to the Deep Sea port of Eden.

  5. I agree with you here Brian as it will open up the whole south coast for new economic opportunities including tourism via cruise ships

  6. I often wonder where these times come from, I suppose if there is a completely new rail alignment that is located inland of Newcastle, to somewhere in the Sydney area, & forget Central Station, 45 minutes is possible but there would be no stopping at Gosford/Woy Woy, in fact if they are included it would be additional 15 minutes added to the running times, It is hoped that this new body is not full of so called experts, who are simply the spokesperson of railway equipment manufacturers etc, who will advise the government of the day to build a route for the benefit of the companies bottom line & not the tax payer, as the current NSW Government has been in relation to the Metro.

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