26 February 2020

Better Canberra-Sydney rail link put on faster track

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Railway Station

Canberra Railway Station: a faster trip to Sydney is a step closer. Photo: File.

Upgrading the Canberra to Sydney rail link so it can provide a faster service has been listed as a priority project by Infrastructure Australia.

Infrastructure Australia today delivered the 2020 Infrastructure Priority List (IPL) with the rail link featuring as a joint priority initiative between the ACT and NSW governments.

But the ACT’s bid for improvements to Parkes Way and Fairbairn Avenue, to be listed as part of the ACT East-West Regional Freight Network, was not successful.

Possible work on the link could include track straightening and duplication, track formation renewal, electrification and signalling upgrades and new rolling stock, according to the listing.

It also says that the potential role of high speed rail in the future should also be considered. Preserving a corridor for a high speed rail line on the east coast of Australia is separately included
on the list as a High Priority Initiative.

Minister for Transport Chris Steel welcomed the rail link listing, saying the Government had been advocating for an improved rail service between Canberra and Sydney for a number of years.

“Investment in this link will not only make train travel a faster and more appealing option for Canberrans travelling to and from Sydney, but it will also provide better connections with regional towns,” he said.

“It’s time for the Federal Government to get on board with faster rail, and take this infrastructure investment proposal seriously.”

The NSW Government has committed part of the $4.2 billion from the sale of Snowy Hydro to upgrading regional rail links, including Canberra-Sydney, to slash travel times.

It has said the more-than four-hour run to Sydney could be cut to three, and eventually down to just one.

Mr Steel said the ACT Government was disappointed that Infrastructure Australia has not included the road links on the IPL as upgrading Parkes Way, in particular, would significantly help reduce congestion throughout the City as well as along the East-West route.

“However, we hope that continued planning will see this upgrade to this federally owned road recognised as one of both regional and national significance,” he said.

Keeping its place on the 2020 IPL as a priority initiative are improvements to Canberra’s public transport network, including the development of transit corridors connecting Belconnen and Queanbeyan to central Canberra.

“The continued inclusion of this initiative on the IPL reaffirms the national significance of the ACT Government’s investments in public transport infrastructure,” Mr Steel said.

Infrastructure Australia has also identified 16 initiatives for national infrastructure programs that were independently identified by Infrastructure Australia including waste and recycling, water, road network safety and Indigenous art and cultural facilities.

“We welcome the 2020 IPL and as a Territory I am confident we are actively prioritising infrastructure initiatives to support Canberrans in the ACT and as they move around our region,” Mr Steel said.

“We look forward to continuing to working with the NSW and Federal Governments to progress these projects.”

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Capital Retro5:15 pm 28 Feb 20

“Australia is third world country”

Not today but after the rout on financial markets this week we will be next week.

If Infrastructure Australia approve this project I would ask for the resignation of the board and any senior management that proposed it. The economics will not stack up and there is a very cheap alternative called Murray’s buses that provide an extremely regular service at a lot less than the airfare. Taking into account the time differentials between the different modes of transport and the potential costs shows that Canberra people have no idea of allocating taxpayer funds for efficiency gains in all of Australia.

Capital Retro1:15 pm 27 Feb 20

“We are in the 2020s. High speed rail everywhere but Australia….”

Without massive tax breaks for a private operator a fast train like the TGV in France cannot become a reality in Australia. There are simply not enough people to support it. Essentially, it has to be “public transport” which is subsidized by taxpayers and only relatively few people will use it and it will be very expensive.

And when you say “everywhere but Australia” remember there are only 25 million people here. Compare the other remote and isolated countries like Australia and they don’t have it either.

Sue Harvey, it doesn’t matter what the ACT government does the haters will go on hating. There is an express bus leaving the city every 15 minutes that arrives OUTSIDE THE STATION every 15 minutes.

so it’s just an “announcement”, no real plans, or work commencing, nothing like that. Must be an election in the wind!

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