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Cash from the resources boom should be used to build a $100 billion rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne, federal Greens leader Bob Brown says.
When a feasibility study was published by the federal government early this month, Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese said the plan to link the cities was worth the significant expense and would also cut carbon emissions.
On Tuesday, Senator Brown said funding for the rail link should be drawn from the resources industry, with private enterprise playing a role.
Referring to the feasibility study, Senator Brown told a high speed rail conference in Sydney on Tuesday, "Three times this report says you are not going to recover your capital costs, that $100 billion.
"It therefore is obvious this must be a nation-building project.
"Where do you get the money from?
"Well, we're in the middle of a resource boom."
Senator Brown said both Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Julia Gillard must promise in the run-up to the next election that they will use money from the resources boom for the rail link.
But he also highlighted some of the potential environmental concerns the project could face.
Planners would need to consider heritage sites, wetlands, protected regions and endangered species when building the rail line, he told conference delegates.
The goverment's feasibility study outlined plans for trains travelling between Brisbane and Melbourne at up to 350km/h outside cities and at up to 200km/h in built up areas.
The line would run from Brisbane to Newcastle, through Sydney and on to Canberra before terminating in Melbourne.
Travel time between Sydney and Brisbane and Sydney and Melbourne would be reduced to three hours.
The study put the price tag for the plan at between $61 billion and $108 billion.
Senator Brown said it was sensible to assume the cost would be at the upper end of that scale.
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