Labor will get high speed rail back on track

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 billion to begin securing the corridor required to build a High Speed Rail Link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

This election will be a choice between a united Shorten Labor Government, which will build the transport infrastructure Australia needs for the future, or more of the Liberals’ cuts and chaos.

Labor’s investment will end nearly six years of Coalition inaction and finally deliver progress on a project that will revolutionise interstate travel and regional development in Australia.

High Speed Rail would allow passengers to move between capital cities in as little as three hours at speeds of up to 350km/h.

As a first step toward commencing the project, a Shorten Labor Government will create a High Speed Rail Authority and require it to:

  • Work with the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory to finalise track alignment and commence land acquisitions.
  • Finalise an updated business case for the project in consultation with Infrastructure Australia.
  • Work with the private sector including international proponents with experience in building and operating High Speed Rail to advance the project.

Labor’s High Speed Rail plan builds on the work of the former Labor government, which completed a feasibility study for the project in 2013.

The study identified a 1,748km route and found the project was not only viable, but would return more than $2 in public benefit for every dollar invested.

Based on that study, an independent panel including former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer and the Business Council of Australia’s Jennifer Westacott recommended creation of a High Speed Rail Authority to advance the project.

While the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has failed to act on this independent recommendation, Labor recognises High Speed Rail’s potential to revolutionise interstate travel.

The project will also be an economic game-changer for communities along its path, including the Gold Coast, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Shepparton.

It would bring these communities closer to capital cities, allowing for increased commuting while also strengthening the case for regional business investment.

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.

Indeed, in 2017 Infrastructure Australia calculated that early acquisition of the corridors for seven rail projects on its Infrastructure Priority List, including High Speed Rail, would save the public $11 billion in land acquisition and construction costs.

Over nearly six years of chaos, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has cut infrastructure investment and shown no vision when it comes to Australia’s future transport needs.

By contrast, Labor has a developed a comprehensive plan to invest in the rail and roads our nation needs to meet its short-term needs while also boosting productivity and building capacity for the medium to long term.

/Public Release. View in full here.