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Ahead of the upcoming 2019 election, the Federal Government has pledged $2 billion for a fast rail line between Melbourne and Geelong. The line would cut the 80km journey in half, to just 32 minutes.
It would also be the first of its kind in Australia, travelling at the fastest speeds of any train line in the nation at an average of 160km/h.
The Melbourne-Geelong fast rail would be the first of many to be built over twenty years between the big capitals and surrounding regional centres.
The Federal Government’s 20-year fast rail plan also invests $40 million for detailed assessments of five additional corridors:
The business cases complement three presently underway that the Federal Government has funded, and others that state governments are funding.
These detailed assessments will determine the next priorities for funding and construction.
The Federal Government pledged to create a National Fast Rail Agency to guide the work, determine priorities based on the assessments, work with state governments and communities and the private sector and provide innovative finance solutions.
It would aim to take pressure off the Princes Freeway and West Gate Bridge. Over 54,000 vehicles take the Princes Freeway every day.
The announcement comes as part of the Federal Government’s Plan for Australia’s Future Population.
This plan aims to take pressure off big cities and support the growth of the regions by lowering immigration caps and proposing incentives for skilled migrants to take jobs in regional Australia.
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the congestion busting investment in infrastructure would give time back to commuters and enable more people to live in our regions and work in our cities.
“This is all part of our plan to manage population growth that I announced this week to take the pressure off our big cities like Melbourne and make our regional cities like Geelong even more attractive places to live and work,” the Prime Minister said.
“As our population grows, fast rail networks are crucial to easing the congestion pressures in our cities and shaping Australia’s future.”
The rail industry responds
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomed the investment and ARA CEO, Danny Broad, said fast rail allows commuting like never before.
“Fast Rail reduces travelling times, facilitating decentralisation of major cities, and revitalising regional centres through effective integrated transport options,” Mr Broad said.
“Other key benefits include easing of road congestion, and reduction of road maintenance costs, carbon and other polluting emissions.“
Mr Broad also hailed the commitment to create a National Fast Rail Agency.
“With the Federal Opposition’s policy for a High Speed Rail Planning Authority, we appear to have bipartisan support for a national agency dedicated to long term planning of faster rail initiatives. This is a welcome development,” he said.
Mr Broad said that rail projects in Australia have historically been in the province of state governments, resulting in a disjointed and uncoordinated approach to rail investment and decision-making.
This article first appeared on infrastructuremagazine.com.au
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