Labor to launch $1b fast-rail plan
CONSTRUCTION of a high-speed rail line linking Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra would commence under a $1 billion plan to be announced by Labor today.
It could see a bullet-train style vehicle travel from Brisbane to Sydney in just 2½ hours at 350km/h, taking pressure off crowded airline routes.
Regional stops would include the Gold Coast, Grafton, Port Macquarie, Newcastle and Wagga Wagga.
The $1 billion will go towards setting up a High Speed Rail Authority and buying land along the 1748km route.
The plan was first approved by the Labor Government in 2013 and, while it was promised again in 2016, there was just a $54 million commitment.
The $1 billion price tag is intended to show the party is taking the project seriously.
Original planning for the rail link showed that while a Sydney-Canberra link was expected to open by 2035, it was expected it would be 2058 before commuters could take the rail directly from Brisbane to Sydney or Melbourne.
At that time, it was also estimate to cost $114 billion.
But the proposed HSR authority would seek updated time frames and costings.
Labor infrastructure and transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said it would "revolutionise interstate travel" and boost regional communities.
"It would bring these communities closer to capital cities, allowing for increased commuting while also strengthening the case for regional business investment," he said.
"As Australia's strong population growth continues in coming years, the already established case for High Speed Rail will become more compelling. If we start to acquire the corridor now, we will protect it from development and thereby minimise costs."
Infrastructure Australia is already valuing the cost of securing the land required at $2.8 billion.
Last week, The Courier-Mail reported tourism and transport advocates were urging both sides of politics to consider high-speed rail to prevent flight routes between capital cities reaching capacity in coming years.