Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : December 2010 Contents Of course, Australia has been talking for decades about various
High Speed Rail projects to service the east coast. But despite a
series of serious proposals, High Speed Rail has not advanced from
a policy proposal to a real live project.
So why is the latest discussion being taken seriously?
There is now a convergence of diffcult policy issues that would
beneft from High Speed Rail, like the need to accommodate rapid
population growth and demographic change, the opportunities
for regional development, and, particularly, the ability of HSR to
provide additional airport capacity to service Sydney at existing
airports in the Hunter or Canberra.
On top of this, there is a strengthening political consensus
that Australia needs to at least identify and protect a HSR-capable
corridor to link Australia's east coast population centres.
A new study by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) and
AECOM, entitled 'East coast high capacity infrastructure corridors
-- a realistic pathway to very fast trains', takes a new and pragmatic
approach to the issue. The report recommends that Australia's
decision-makers take the important initial steps required to ensure
that a HSR system in Australia remains an option into the future,
stating, 'it is clear that High Speed Rail could offer a game change
in the way we consider and plan for mobility, regional development
and other social and economic outcomes.'
This new paper avoids the trap of talking about technologies
and trains, but rather paints a realistic vision and an achievable
pathway to deliver HSR in Australia.
It is encouraging to see a growing political consensus for the
potential of HSR -- both the Federal Government and Opposition have
confrmed their support for a corridor study. The aspiration of HSR
appears to be on the table for earnest and realistic consideration.
The six key recommendations of the IPA/AECOM report are:
1. Undertake a detailed corridor profle and implementation
study to identify and protect a high capacity infrastructure
corridor between the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne, to
future-proof Australia’s infrastructure capacity on the eastern
2. Ensure the corridor is suitable for High Speed Rail;
3. Commit to a frm timeline for the procurement of the frst
economically feasible segment of a future network;
4. Reserve the corridor, and target capital expenditure towards
5. Spend when feasible in line with a long-term vision for
infrastructure corridors, integrated with other policies; and
6. Prepare an integrated infrastructure plan for Australia's east
The paper argues that reaching frst base on High Speed Rail
must be the identifcation and protection of an east coast high-
capacity infrastructure corridor that is High Speed Rail capable.
While the development of segments of a HSR network may not be
economically feasible until years into the future, the paper cautions
that without the corridor being protected and retained, High Speed
Rail may never be a realistic option.
18 futurebuilding DECEMBER 2010
For decades, High Speed Rail (HSR) has been part of the
transport mix in countries like Japan, France, Spain and
Portugal. An ever-growing list of countries has been looking
to High Speed Rail to help solve inter-urban mobility and
regional development challenges, with very fast train (VFT)
projects being announced with increasing regularity.
Rail back on
By Dan Stojanovich
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