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Federal Labor’s election promise to use $1 billion to protect a corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane for a future bullet train has put high-speed rail firmly back on the political agenda.
I played a key role on the accepted "playbook" on high speed rail – the High Speed Rail Study Phase 2 Report – that was used in 2013 by then infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese to map out how a very fast train could be delivered in our lifetime.
High-speed rail has returned to the agenda during the election campaign.
It is still an important text, but federal government presses should start booking in time for a reprint – one that factors in the biggest infrastructure project in Australia right now – big enough to bend the route the high-speed rail would take from Brisbane through Sydney onto Canberra and Melbourne.
First, though, there is the important matter of avoiding an additional $11 billion in costs, in the future, by protecting the corridor today.
Whoever wins government next Saturday must consider, as one of their first orders of business, setting up a body overseeing preservation of the 1750-kilometre high-speed rail corridor, particularly where it touches urban sprawl.
It is in the nation’s interest that a train travelling at 350km/h has a clear path ahead of it. The time to act is now. The social, economic and environmental benefits of future high-speed connectivity are significant.
The second order of business is to recognise the changes since the 2013 road map was produced – the growth of western Sydney and the commitment and construction of Western Sydney International Airport.
The release of the 2013 high-speed rail playbook pre-dated the decision to deliver what the Hawke government started in 1987 - building a new airport on a greenfield site in the paddocks at Badgerys Creek.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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