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The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says a very fast rail link for Canberra is "some time away" from even being viable.
Ms Gillard told a breakfast event in Canberra this morning that the long-mooted high speed rail system linking Australia's east coast capitals would cost a "lot of money" and that the population density did not exist at present to support the project.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended a "Breakfast with Powerful Women" at old Parliament House in Canberra with ACT Chief minister Katy Gallagher this morning. Photo: Andrew Meares
The NSW infrastructure authority was also dismissive of the idea last week, writing in its State Infrastructure Plan that the benefits of the east coast system were not worth its estimated $86 billion price tag.
Canberra's very fast train advocates say a link could be built linking central Canberra to the Sydney CBD for about $10 billion.
But Ms Gillard was not optimistic this morning about the broader system when asked by Canberra businessman Tim Efkarpidis if she supported a high speed trail link for the capital.
"We've had Minister (Anthony) Albanese scope all of this out, through a feasibility study and the truth is, it's a lot of money for a fast train that will do not only the interconnection from Sydney to Canberra, but also the interconnection to Melbourne," Ms Gillard said.
"I think it's some time away, before you would see population density at a point where it would make it viable.
"But I expect that we would continue to get very strong representations from the ACT about what Katy and her team believe is the right shape of the future of transport needs for Canberra."
Ms Gallagher was more supportive of the link, but indicated that she too saw the project as happening in the long term.
"It's no secret that we support the fast train to Canberra, but like the Prime Minister has outlined, it's not sitting on our budget books," the Chief Minister said.
"We'll continue to support the work that's being done and to work with the Commonwealth to complete the studies.
"I think the next study is due in December this year to put the business case together."
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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