Report calls for investment in faster rail

A report calls for investment in faster rail services across Australia to connect CBDs to neighbouring regional centres, but says high speed rail isn’t the immediate answer.

Carlonine Wilkie

The report commissioned by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) says investment in rail in Australia has fallen behind road funding, resulting in gridlocked roads, slow train journeys and lack of support for an expected exodus of people from urban areas.

It’s also left an Australia lagging compared to other countries around the world that are investing in rail, like the UK, France, Germany and Japan.

Faster Rail presents a more pragmatic approach, where the rail network can be upgraded in stages.


But the ARA says the future of the rail system needs to do more than just be fast – it also needs to be frequent, reliable, comfortable and safe.

“Previous investigations for High Speed Rail in Australia have not progressed due to the high costs involved in connecting our three big cities,” the report says.

“Faster Rail presents a more pragmatic approach, where the rail network can be upgraded in stages.”

It describes faster rail as reaching speeds of up to 200 km/hr, compared to speeds of up to 250km/hr for fast rail and speeds in excess of 250km/hr for high speed rail.

Faster rail can be achieved upgrading existing lines, while fast and high speed rail require new rolling stock and the construction of dedicated tracks. In the case of high speed rail, the new tracks need to be separated from the existing network.

ARA recommends firstly investing in improvements to existing infrastructure, and planning for the delivery of faster or fast rail within the next five to ten years.

High speed rail can be a longer term goal, but governments should start acquiring land for high speed rail corridors now.

Impact of Covid

ARA this month also released the results of a survey of 600 regional and metropolitan residents across NSW, Victoria and Queensland showing about a quarter of city residents  were likely to consider a move to the regions and faster rail would increase the likelihood of them making a move.

The survey found regional residents would also be 71 per cent more likely to take the train if faster rail connections were available, while 84 per cent of regional respondents believed faster rail connections would make their region more attractive for people considering relocating.

ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie says itls time to bring Australia up to international rail standards and tap into the demand for regional development resulting from COVID-19.

“With an additional 10 million people expected to move to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane by 2060, faster rail will be essential to support urban renewal in key regional centres,” she said.
“Highways in and out of Sydney are already reaching capacity, which means we must invest now in faster rail to support the east coast’s sustainable development.
“Immediate investment in existing networks would improve the speed, reliability and frequency of regional rail services into the city as we plan for fast rail connections over the next decade.”

Geelong Fast Rail

The federal government last November announced the first stage of the Geelong Fast Rail project which is expected to begin in 2023 and will deliver faster passenger journeys between Geelong and Melbourne.

The $4 billion project is the first part of the federal government’s faster rail plan.

It has completed faster rail business cases for Greater Shepparton, Newcastle and the Sunshine Coast and has several other business cases underway.

Ms Wilkie said the Geelong project could fuel a region a boom by cutting travel times to the city to less than an hour.

“The Geelong Fast Rail project shows just how transformational rail investment can be for Victorian residents,” she said.

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2 thoughts on “Report calls for investment in faster rail

  1. I agree with all of of the above comments by Carlonine but it is very hard to break the monopoly of those who have a vested interest in maintaining a road transport strategy including Govts by the way through its petrol tax, or the coming user pays arrangements ( See South Australias implementation already.) Rail also started to fall out of favour in Aus in the 1950,s with the advent of affordable vehicles for private citizens and the recognition that Govts could raise taxes via the above, vehicle registration fees and CTP. It is ironic that
    if you look at a map of all the very early railways that existed or constructed in Victoria since day dot up to say the 1960,s .many of these railways have been closed down. If these were opened again,environmentally,economically etc they would attract greater numbers to them today than what they ever served in the past because the regions is where the big push is going from the effects of Covid and the Digital Age in general
    Ah for the need for long term vision and imagination and for Govts to act in the interest of the population of Australia and not in favour of neo-liberalism all the time

  2. Encouraged. Someone is offering a Plan to move forward. Sates other than NSW are ideally placed to quickly move forward!

    But for NSW. The geography of the Greater Sydney [Sydney Basin] is challenging
    All of the mentioned options would need significant tunneling.
    Sydney is a coastal basin surrounded by Mountains.
    The rock for tunneling is Great. But we have lots of Mines scattered in each corridor and some with Longwall mining in places makes it Tricky = expensive

    Each of the NSW corridors have a Challange!
    Northern Corridor: to getting too and Crossing the Hawkesbury river
    The Central Western: The Blue Mountains
    Southern Inland: to get past Yerrinbool and navigate the Hills of the southern Macarthur region.
    Southern Coastal: Illawarra escapement and its peppered with Mining sites

    We have few existing rail corridors that allow an upgrade to even Faster rail.
    Issues of realizing minimum radius curves required.

    And as the report points out seemingly no effective future use policy . as any Land held by the state for the Future use of any kind Including any corridors have in recent years been sold off to have a AAA rating.

    But the ARA actually has a real plan and its now past time to implement the recommendations. As regional centres have experienced a Covid housing Boom already. With People discovering WFH means home can be out of Sydney, Melbourne,Brisbane ….!

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