The Greens’ Amanda Bresnan is wondering aloud where the railways have gone.
Recent responses to questions from the ACT Greens reveal that the ACT Government has not made a submission to the Federal Government’s high-speed rail study and is making limited efforts on local sustainable rail projects.
“Rail is a key transport mode for a sustainable Canberra. But the ACT Government gives us talk and no action when it comes to rail,” said Greens’ Transport Spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA.
“The most recent lack of action by the ACT Government is on high speed rail. Now is a key time for action, given the Federal Government is investigating proposals for an East coast high speed rail network.
“Last year I asked the ACT Government to consult with the Canberra public about possible high speed rail routes in and out of Canberra and the potential locations for a Canberra high speed rail station.
“I also asked the Government to present a proposal to the Federal Government making a case for the prioritised construction of the Canberra stages of the route.
“The ACT Government has not done this and, as of January 2012, it has made no submission to the Federal Government regarding high speed rail.
“I am also very concerned that the ACT Government is failing to progress opportunities for using rail freight.
“The Government’s most recent proposal is to defer any action to a future ‘ACT freight strategy’.
It would seem obvious this government has no interest in rail whatsoever.
UPDATE: The Minister for Transport Anthony Albanese is in the Canberra Times making a rare intervention into local matters and saying any ACT submission would be irrelevant.
FURTHER UPDATE: Chief Minister Gallagher has announced that she is in fact mad keen for a VFT.
The study is being carried out in two phases. Phase 1 was released in August 2011, by the Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Transport. The study identified Canberra on the shortlisted corridors, both the Sydney – Canberra corridor and the Canberra – Melbourne corridor. Possible Canberra station locations include Civic and Canberra Airport. The study also indicated a total cost of between $61 to $108 billion, with 1,600kms of new track.
Phase 2 of this study has only just commenced, with the ACT Government again closely involved through the High Speed Rail Reference Group.
The Phase 2 study will be broader and deeper in the scope of its investigation and analysis. It will consider the preferred corridor and transport products, the medium term travel market, the economic, social and environmental impacts of the recommended program, the most appropriate institutional arrangements, and the implementation plan for delivering the program.
“This Government has put in years of effort into advocacy to other jurisdictions and the Commonwealth,” the Chief Minister said. “The Greens are now trying to play catch up.”