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High-speed rail: Consortium plans new inland cities to support Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney network

By Ian Bushnell 29 October 2017 10
High speed rail. Photo: iStock

Plans to connect the East coast are underway as high-speed rail plans are proposed. 

The dream of Canberra being linked to east coast capitals by high-speed rail is a step closer to reality with the announcement of a new multi-sector consortium’s bid to build the massive infrastructure project.

Private group Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) said the consortium – which includes Japanese company Hitachi, infrastructure services company Cardno and the CSIRO –  would deliver its proposal in response to the Federal Government’s Faster Rail Initiative Prospectus, which is seeking submissions for the co-funding of up to three business cases for faster rail initiatives.

CLARA plans to use the land value capture model along the route to fund and build eight inland ‘smart’ cities in conjunction with a high-speed rail network connecting Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra. It did put a cost on the project but estimates show that it would be more than $100 billion.

CLARA believes the 35-year eight cities project can deliver critical mass in passenger numbers for the HSR network, as well as unlock the significant financial benefits to the Australian economy of inland city development.

It says it is agnostic about technology and will choose the best on offer if its proposal is accepted. CLARA says research shows that there are at least four viable, currently available technologies that would enable CLARA to achieve its faster rail projections, including magnetic levitation and traditional systems.

CLARA’s proposal has three distinct stages which it says are commercially viable in their own right. The first two to be built concurrently are Melbourne to Greater Shepparton with two CLARA cities and then Sydney to Canberra with three CLARA cities.

The Sydney to Canberra corridor will deliver 501,000 new dwellings over 35 years, accommodating about 1.2 million people. The Melbourne to Shepparton corridor involves 334,000 new dwelling allotments accommodating 801,000 people.

The entire project will include the construction of stations in each of the eight new cities as well as high-speed rail platforms being developed for Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra.

CLARA says that in the construction phase alone more than 55,000 jobs will be created in the Sydney to Canberra corridor and over 45,000 jobs in the Melbourne to Greater Shepparton corridor.

It is also working with ‘employment sponsors’ from the United States and Asia who will provide the initial 5,000 to 10,000 jobs in each of the new cities and attract small to medium enterprises that will provide true job generation as the city evolves.

CLARA CEO Nick Cleary said the CLARA Jobs Plan would ensure there was organic growth within the cities from day one.

“This is not a traditional development, no one will move into our cities without the major infrastructure, including the high-speed rail, already being in place. There will be no waiting for schools, shops, and health care – they will be there from day one.”

Mr Cleary said Australia was facing a choice. “We either do nothing and continue the overcrowded megacity model, leading to a more fractured society, where people see little of their families and do not even know their neighbours, where housing prices of ‘The Australian dream’ are out of reach of the average Australian, leading to a further disintegration of the social fabric, or we can take a deep breath, hit the ‘pause button’ on our largest cities and provide a master plan that not only provides a smart choice for the region, the state, and the nation, but also to develop communities that reflect the best of Australian capability, and our aspirations in the 21st century.”

The consortium also includes DLA Piper, McCrindle Research, Slattery QS and Advisory, Roberts Day, Clarke Hopkins Clarke, V2i, Power Ledger, The Space Agency, SilverSun Pictures and New Best Friend graphic design.

Financial modelling will be undertaken by PwC, who will join the CLARA team as it progresses past stage 1 of the prospectus process.

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High-speed rail: Consortium plans new inland cities to support Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney network
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dungfungus 9:48 am 04 Nov 17

Maryann Mussared said :

CLARA may be seen as ‘pie in the sky’, but B1 and B2 (Barr and Barilaro) were at Queanbeyan railway station today for a media opportunity talking about the proposal they have put to the Federal Government for a ‘fast train’ between Canberra and Sydney.

Indeed “B1 and B2 ” (I love that!) had yet another meeting yesterday when they announced a “new” cross-border MOU announcing a series of projects (what are they?)

It was probably a good idea to strike a new MOU because bugger all has been been done under the original one signed years ago when Katy Gallagher was CM :http://www.katygallagher.net/act_and_nsw_sign_the_memorandum_of_understanding and the several that have been signed since.

I gather MOUs are stronger than “mentions” though, especially when they are announced at “a media opportunity”.

Those pies in the sky are getting mildew already.

Maryann Mussared 7:26 pm 03 Nov 17

CLARA may be seen as ‘pie in the sky’, but B1 and B2 (Barr and Barilaro) were at Queanbeyan railway station today for a media opportunity talking about the proposal they have put to the Federal Government for a ‘fast train’ between Canberra and Sydney.

dungfungus 6:01 pm 31 Oct 17

Queanbeyanite said :

Lucy Baker said :

Where is the water supply for all these dwellings going to come from?

There’s plenty of water but the infrastructure to reticulate it would have to be built. The last Canberra water shortage was after the 2003 fires when the Cotter catchment was damaged and the Googong dam infrastructure just couldn’t supply the amount of water usually required, hence the ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ call to action. There are fewer gardens now anyway and more living in apartments. Goulburn I believe is now connected to the Shoalhaven water grid.

Do you have more information on that Shoalhaven water grid connection to Goulburn because the group think 14 years ago about Shoalhaven water, especially a dam at Welcome Reef Crossing was “no dam, ever” http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/14/1068674381134.html

Sydney’s population has grown dramatically since then and it will only require and Act of Parliament to get the wheels turning again. 1.2 million people living in the proposed “smart cities” between Sydney and Canberra would be a good reason to build it, indeed it would have to be built.

This will alienate the Greens for a start. Any comment from Green-land?

Queanbeyanite 3:27 pm 31 Oct 17

Lucy Baker said :

Where is the water supply for all these dwellings going to come from?

There’s plenty of water but the infrastructure to reticulate it would have to be built. The last Canberra water shortage was after the 2003 fires when the Cotter catchment was damaged and the Googong dam infrastructure just couldn’t supply the amount of water usually required, hence the ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ call to action. There are fewer gardens now anyway and more living in apartments. Goulburn I believe is now connected to the Shoalhaven water grid.

dungfungus 8:16 pm 30 Oct 17

Maryann Mussared said :

Andrew Barr spoke at a tourism event this morning with John Barilaro and specifically mentioned the prioritization of ACT and NSW working together on the fast train and approaching the Federal Government together.. He also mentioned the Barton Highway duplication which would be very good for regional commuters, tourism and transport.

Both the fast train and duplication of the Barton Highway have been “mentioned” regularly for the past 20 years, so why hasn’t anything happened?

Why doesn’t Barr and Barilaro first work on a daily commuter rail service from Bungendore to Kingston via HQJOC and Queanbeyan. This has the potential to take hundreds of the 10,000 cars that battle in and out of Canberra every day along the Kings Highway and the Federal Highway from the north.

The infrastructure is already there and modern diesel electric rail-cars are readily available. It’s a no brainer.

HiddenDragon 6:38 pm 30 Oct 17

“CLARA plans to use the land value capture model along the route to fund and build eight inland ‘smart’ cities in conjunction with a high-speed rail network connecting Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra.”

Even with the inevitable demands for direct or indirect subsidies from federal and state/territory taxpayers, that is going to be a lot of value capturing, which means that these dream towns will likely not be much less costly (it at all) places to do business than the existing east coast capitals. More likely what this would amount to is some new long-distance dormitory suburbs for the existing cities, and tree change sites, most likely for a demographic which will demand lots of expensive publicly funded health care and related services.

“Employment sponsors” sounds like a concept which will be of interest to unions already concerned about flat wages for Australian workers.

Maryann Mussared 3:45 pm 30 Oct 17

Andrew Barr spoke at a tourism event this morning with John Barilaro and specifically mentioned the prioritization of ACT and NSW working together on the fast train and approaching the Federal Government together.. He also mentioned the Barton Highway duplication which would be very good for regional commuters, tourism and transport.

dungfungus 9:05 pm 29 Oct 17

Lucy Baker said :

Where is the water supply for all these dwellings going to come from?

Apparently, “smart cities” don’t need water and electricity.

Lucy Baker 1:52 pm 29 Oct 17

Where is the water supply for all these dwellings going to come from?

dungfungus 11:10 am 29 Oct 17

If the whole project is commercially viable then why does the government need to be involved at all for co-funding?

Surely with all the debt-seeking money sloshing around the world now why doesn’t the consortium simply do an IPO and let the infrastructure-investing Industry Super Funds become the lead investor?

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