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Chief Minister Andrew Barr's statement that "the immediate focus should be on making the train faster and not on developing a high speed network" in reference to the future of the Canberra-Sydney rail link ("Canberra fast rail route gaining steam", November 28, p3) is superficially promising but in reality profoundly disappointing.
Mr Barr's comment "Let's bring our current 19th century service into the 20th century" shows he is aware that the present rail service is hopelessly outdated, but it should be transformed into the 21st century, not the 20th.
Chief minister Andrew Barr speaks at the launch of the ACT Infrastructure Plan. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos.
Even more disappointing is Mr Barr's comment that the NSW trains, along with "a range of sensible and affordable signalling and track improvements" (such as the tortuous section along the Molonglo Gorge) will in the medium term "help to develop a more favourable environment for the consideration (my emphasis) of high-speed rail".
With the road transport connection between Canberra and Sydney becoming ever more congested, emissions from both road and air transport being large and growing problems, NSW, ACT and federal government coffers in healthy states, and interest rates at record lows, now is not the time for "consideration". It is the time for acting.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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