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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
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LONG-stalled plans for High Speed Rail could be fast-tracked at no cost to taxpayers, with a link to the Sunshine Coast and Noosa under discussion.
Federal MP and former tennis great John Alexander, who headed an inquiry into transport and regional development, believes HSR could help solve the housing affordability crisis.
“We all agree now this is a real estate deal,” he said.
The inquiry’s report looks at using a “value capture model” for HSR to open vast tracks of land to development via quick connection to our major cities, driving decentralisation and reducing congestion.
The China Railway high speed train bound runs at an average speed of 350km/h.Under current HSR plans, Brisbane to Lismore would take 40 minutes. Once expanded, Noosa would be a 30-minute commute.
Industry Minister Greg Hunt recently revealed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Cabinet were considering HSR.
With the report to be tabled in Parliament next week, Mr Alexander, chairman of the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, said expressions of interest could be called late next year and the project completed without taxpayer funding.
“There is a perfect storm of opportunity,” he said. “We have some of the highest-priced real estate in the world and separating our expensive cities is very low-cost real estate. The uplift of land value in these corridors will actually fund the infrastructure.”
A senior executive from Japanese rail giant Hitachi told the committee the value-capture potential for HSR in Australia was the best in the world.
“If you’re looking at one of the most desirable pieces of real estate in the world, it would lie between Sydney and Brisbane,” Mr Alexander said.
Liberal MP John Alexander, who is based in former prime minister John Howard’s seat of Bennelong in Sydney, sees high speed rail as a solution to the housing affordability crisis. Pic: Adam WardA southern consortium, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia, (CLARA) is well advanced with plans to link Melbourne and Sydney by HSR and build eight new regional cities in Victoria and NSW.
Mr Alexander said the level of interest from Japan, China and Korea could result in a “super-consortium” with companies collaborating to build it as fast as possible.
Construction would start north and south and meet in the middle, with Brisbane developing as a hub for future links.
CLARA boss Nick Cleary said his company would happily collaborate to get it happening sooner.
“We’d welcome the opportunity to work with other consortiums to make that happen,” he said.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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