Put publicly funded high-speed rail on the fast track, say Greens

Ian Bushnell 5 March 2019 64

Chinese high-speed trains. The Greens say build it now.

The Australian Greens have rolled out their proposal for a publicly funded high-speed rail network, with a spur line to Canberra as envisaged in government-commissioned studies.

With the looming federal election firmly in mind, the Greens transport spokesperson Janet Rice this week issued her party’s plan for the elusive project, pledging the creation of the Australian High-Speed Rail Authority and an initial equity investment of $1.6 billion for the first stages of planning and land reservation.

Senator Rice says high-speed rail should be publicly funded, not handed over to private developers hoping to make windfall profits along the route at the expense of established cities.

She says a new raft of taxes and charges on CBD property developers set to profit from high-speed rail could contribute to the cost of the project.

The Greens join the Coalition and Labor, which have thrown their support behind the idea of high-speed rail without making any tangible commitment to the more than $110 billion infrastructure project.

Labor infrastructure spokesperson and long-time supporter Anthony Albanese said recently that Australia should “bite the bullet” and build a high-speed rail line between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane but Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is yet to pledge any money to the project.

Senator Rice said it was time to turn these dreams into reality and fund high-speed rail in full and build it in the public interest.

“For decades, Australians have dreamt about high-speed rail along our east coast. It would be nation-building at its best: big, bold and transformative,” she said.

“Governments up till now have refused to take action because of risk aversion and capitulation to private interests, despite studies showing the feasibility, high public benefit and strong economics of High-speed Rail.

“High-speed rail will connect our cities with our regions, reduce carbon pollution, create tens of thousands of jobs and provide a return to the taxpayer.”

CLARA’s proposed high-speed rail route.

She said both the Coalition and Labor wanted private interests involved, with the Morrison Government appearing to favour private developer Consolidated Land and Rail Australia.

“The CLARA project banks on developers making money from massive increases in the value of land along the route, building stations and new cities rather than building stations in existing towns like Albury-Wodonga and Wagga Wagga,” Senator Rice said.

“This would mean instead of high-speed rail unlocking the economic potential of our existing regional cities, these established towns would struggle to compete with the new cities built around new stations.”

Senator Rice said construction of high-speed rail stations both up and down the east coast and in the heart of our central business districts would immensely increase the value of surrounding land.

“Private developers who see their property values rise should not simply get a windfall gain. By using a variety of taxes and charges, they will be made to contribute to the overall cost of building the project,” she said.

The High-Speed Rail Study envisages two lines – Sydney to Melbourne (2 hours 44 mins) with spur lines for Sydney to Canberra (1 hour) and Melbourne to Canberra (2 hours 30 mins); and Sydney to Brisbane (2 hours 37 mins) with a spur line for Sydney to Gold Coast (similar time).

Senator Rice said the Greens would implement the accelerated timetable envisaged in the Study’s Phase 2 report.

Infrastructure Australia warned in 2017 that governments must take urgent action in the next five years to protect vital infrastructure corridors, including the proposed high-speed rail route.

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64 Responses to Put publicly funded high-speed rail on the fast track, say Greens
Queanbeyanite Queanbeyanite 7:28 pm 07 Mar 19

I bet it will cost a LOT more than the existing very efficient Murray’s bus service. And when a bus is full they wheel out another one straight away, you won’t do that with a Shinkansen.

Kel Watt Kel Watt 10:53 pm 06 Mar 19

This was first floated ‘seriously’ in the 1998 campaign by supporters. That’s 21 years ago and 7 federal elections ago.

The best chance we had was seeing a multi-billion investment as part of the GFC stimulus package in 2008 when the Rudd Government supported proposals such as school hall infrastructure and $900 cash injections for individuals.

While the rationale for those decisions can be debated, the idea appeared to work and keep the Australian economy protected from the downturns seen elsewhere.

The small construction projects were seen across the country, but I often see the $400 billion package as a missed opportunity. For the sake of shifting some of the funding to the VFT, or providing a little extra on top, we would now be enjoying a Sydney to Melbourne trip in the blink of an eye.

If it was to ever happen, the track should run from Geelong to Rockhampton, placing 80% of the Australian population within an hour of the VFT. Now that would transform the country!

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:51 pm 06 Mar 19

If your dream is to turn Canberra into a dormitory suburb of Sydney – with housing rents and prices even higher than now – you should be cheering this on, otherwise it’s barge-pole material.

One way or another, the big end of town will make out like bandits on a project like this (they always do), and the punters will pay through taxes and rates which are higher than otherwise, and reduced services and benefits.

Florian Steinbacher Florian Steinbacher 4:36 pm 06 Mar 19

Building it would be easier than getting the house of idiots to agree on anything

William Packman William Packman 1:07 pm 06 Mar 19

It’s not going to happen , we don’t have the density of population in a small area.

EG , France , Germany Spain , UK etc , 50 million people plus in each country and all similar or less in area than NSW.

This idea gets rolled out every 6 months or so and then disappears , when will people think about it for more than 3 seconds and realise it won’t work.

Warwick Alsop Warwick Alsop 12:21 pm 06 Mar 19

Greens showing how relevant they are here (not). No-one wants this, no-one can afford it, it just saves polis from talking about hard things like jobs and the economy.

Nick Hill Nick Hill 11:12 am 06 Mar 19

Hyperloop... we need the top range technology, not something that will be obsolete in 5 years time - look up “Virgin Hyperloop One” Hyperloop One

Jo Byrne Jo Byrne 9:13 am 06 Mar 19

it must come to Canberra too for my support

Joachim Semmler Joachim Semmler 8:34 am 06 Mar 19

Must be another election coming for this oldie to be dusted off. Don't get me wrong, if this ever gets up it will a massive positive investment and open up regional Australia for those who don't want to live in over crowded cities.

Henry Thomson Henry Thomson 2:26 am 06 Mar 19

spur line = 1 train a day at a monopoly price. People will continue to go with car on certainly the sydney trip and air to melbourne.

John Smith John Smith 1:17 am 06 Mar 19

More green waste like the white elephant light rail, coming soon to bankrupt Canberra for 30 years. The irony is, although the greens push these schemes in theory, when they actually have to be put somewhere the Greens inevitably become NIMBYs and refuse to let anything be built anywhere- which really shows up their true selfish middle upper class nature.

Leon Ashman Leon Ashman 12:27 am 06 Mar 19

Take a lesson from this....


Hemanth Singirikonda Hemanth Singirikonda 12:01 am 06 Mar 19

Topic that only surfaces when elections are around the corner

Rod Yeo Rod Yeo 11:00 pm 05 Mar 19

Bulk of freight should be sent on rail too.

Gerry Gageldonk Gerry Gageldonk 9:58 pm 05 Mar 19

No objections to this except we don't have the people or the population to move and the taxpayer will be hit for the costs ..it's not just the train it's also the whole maintenance infrastructure that goes with it too.

    Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 7:37 am 06 Mar 19

    The taxpayer is already hit for the cost of the roads. What's the difference?

    Gerry Gageldonk Gerry Gageldonk 8:14 am 06 Mar 19

    Peter Marshall u can't see that OMG

Robert McMahon Robert McMahon 9:02 pm 05 Mar 19

If only: would be much more. It cost 1 billion to run an tram between Gunghalin and Civic in Canberra. Would be much more for inter-city solution. I suspect upgrading existing rail arrangements to achieve a 50% increase in speed, to make better than buses, is the way to go. Big bang solutions rarely work.

Wing Nut Wing Nut 8:58 pm 05 Mar 19

Let’s see the cost benefit analysis that doesn’t include such spurious metrics like “value capture” before we jump into spending a truck load of money.

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 7:58 pm 05 Mar 19

election time tradition: suggest a fast rail link.

    Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 7:39 am 06 Mar 19

    Old Party Tradition - stall and build another airport or road.

Michael Kiem Michael Kiem 7:56 pm 05 Mar 19

Not happening how many private Co have tried and got knocked back

Andrea Charlton Andrea Charlton 7:42 pm 05 Mar 19

No damned spur line! Direct connection only.

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