THE federal government will spend $20 million on a detailed study into high-speed rail on Australia's east coast. It has commissioned a consultant that has already indicated a fast train should be possible.
The Minister for Transport, Anthony Albanese, said yesterday AECOM Australia would complete a study by the middle of the year into potential routes for a fast train between Sydney and Newcastle, extending either side to south-east Queensland and Melbourne. The study would look at where stations should sit, and determine rough journey times and transit costs.
For AECOM, a global consultant, the work builds on a report it has released in conjunction with the lobby group for private infrastructure firms, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.
That report, A realistic pathway to very fast trains, argued there was a very good chance that a high-speed rail link along the eastern seaboard would soon be necessary. Released in September, it called on the government to start examining where rail lines should be built and to start buying land to preserve corridors.
The executive director of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Brendan Lyon, said the work AECOM would conduct for the federal government was likely to reflect this conclusion.
''I would be very surprised if any report doesn't support long-term planning so that this remains an option into the future,'' Mr Lyon said.
Crikey has more - High Speed rail study slowly leaves the station.
Now that China has a rail link of similar length to Sydney-Melbourne operating in under three hours between Guangzhou and Wuhan, it definitely deserves to be front-of-mind.
This earlier story on that link includes videos and other details, and in June, the Beijing-Shanghai high speed link is opening, providing many China air travellers with a superior point to point or total trip experience compared to air, whether measured by trip time, amenity, fare or continuous broadband connectivity.
The Australian study is not however primarily about tackling key air routes. It is about identifying and preparing for high speed rail corridors that could create immense economic activity and elevated land values in areas that have been ignored by or spared from urbanisation depending on your personal perspectives. ...
This is the detailed timetable.The study will focus on identifying possible routes, corridor preservation and station options, including city-centre, city-periphery and airport stations. This will provide a basis for route development, indicative transit times and high-level construction costs.
As part of the core network element at the centre of the east coast corridor, the Newcastle–Sydney ‘spine’ will be a central aspect of this work. Options for links northwards to Brisbane and southwards to Canberra and Melbourne will also be considered.
Specifically the study will:
• Identify undeveloped land corridors and/or existing corridors that could be considered for a high speed railway, and preservation strategies;
• Identify the main design decisions and requirements to build and operate a viable high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia;
• Present route and station options, including indicative construction costs and interaction with other transport modes;
• Provide costs estimates of undertaking the next stages of work, such as detailed route alignment identification and corridor resumptions;
• Identify potential financing and business operating models for the construction and operation of a high speed railway;
• Provide advice and options on relevant construction, engineering, financial and environmental considerations.
The study will be managed by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. It will draw on expertise from the public and private sectors, as well as international experience, growth forecasts and other contemporary data. Stakeholders will be consulted and contribute views through a formal reference group, which will include representatives from relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies and other key stakeholder groups.
The high speed rail implementation study will by July 2011:
• Identify the requirements for implementation of a viable HSR network on the east coast;
• Identify strategic route and station options, including high-level costing.
This initial phase will provide a basis for consultation and inform the specific direction of a second phase, including consideration of the specific corridors, routes and associated issues to be targeted for more detailed examination.
Further work from July 2011 will include:
• Detailed corridor alignment identification;
• Identification of preliminary geotechnical issues;
• Development of comprehensive robust cost estimates for preferred options;
• Further investigation of investment and (public and private) financing options;
• Detailed patronage and revenue forecasts;
• Consideration of preferred options in relation to other modes (for example, airport capacity implications resulting from diversion of air traffic to train).
This final work and report will take approximately 12 months to complete and inform the Australian Government and state and territory governments’ consideration of next steps for high speed rail in Australia.