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Engineers from Japan and China believe they could build a high-speed rail line between Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle for about $30 billion, according to the Australasian Railway Association.
The ARA made the claim to an inquiry into rail costs in NSW yesterday, where it said the costs of tunnelling for major rail projects was falling around the world. If so, that would be a major benefit for the NSW Government's north-west rail link project, which involves a 15km tunnel, Sydney's longest and one of the longer rail tunnels in the world.
A parliamentary committee into rail costings held its second hearing yesterday. The inquiry was prompted by claims the cost of developing train projects in NSW regularly outstripped those in other states or internationally.
This perception was challenged by senior transport bureaucrats at yesterday's hearing but was reinforced by evidence from the ARA, the industry group for train builders and operators.
The chief executive of the ARA, Brian Nye, said rail-building companies regularly criticised the cost and complexity of tendering for projects in the state.
In Australia, tendering costs typically made up about 1.5 per cent of the cost of the project, Mr Nye said. In Britain, tendering costs typically made up about half a per cent of a project's cost. Mr Nye said international train-building costs were falling because of the volume of construction projects taking place in China. He said he had sought discussions with engineers from Japan or China about fast rail in Australia. They put a figure of about $30billion on a high-speed rail line linking Canberra, Sydney and Newcastle.
While large, that figure looks slightly more manageable than a $61 billion to $108 billion figure quoted on a high-speed rail line linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne by a federal study this year.
Transport for NSW tabled a study conducted by accountants Ernst & Young comparing project costs in NSW and other states.
The Ernst & Young study, based on a small sample of projects, put the cost of a kilometre of rail track in NSW at $48 million compared to $27 million in other states.
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