Market Sectors, Passenger Rail

Calls increase for Sydney to Canberra high-speed train

Pressure is increasing on the federal government to commit to a Sydney to Canberra high-speed train, with Stockland’s Mark Steinert pitching in via the Financial Review this week.

“A high-speed rail service between Canberra and Sydney would have a significant, positive impact on productivity, given the frequent travel between, and national importance, of these two cities,” Steinert, CEO and managing director for Australia’s largest property developer, told the paper.

“Investing in high-speed rail boosts economic activity through jobs growth, productivity gains, reduction in congestion and sustainable, improved mobility.”

The most important factor about fast rail, said Steinert, is its ability to create equal opportunity.

“High-speed rail can be a connector and equaliser – giving people improved access to major capital cities or activity hubs, opening up possibilities for greater participation in education, jobs and cultural experiences, helping people create better lives with more opportunities,” Steinert said.

In 2017, Infrastructure Australia reported that the early acquisition of corridors for seven rail projects on its priority list, including high-speed rail, would save the public $11 billion in land acquisition and construction costs,

There is support for the project across governments. NSW’s premier Gladys Berejiklian committed $5 million in funding to investigate high-speed routes between Sydney and Canberra via the future Badgerys Creek Airport, while ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has said he would call on the federal government to fund the high-speed rail link before the next election.

Minister for population, cities and urban infrastructure Alan Tudge said the government’s 20 year Faster Rail plan, released early this year, identified the Sydney to Canberra route as a potential corridor in future years.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has said there is long-standing interest from China, Japan and Europe to build the rail line.

“The Japan Railway Company – they’ve had an office here [in Sydney] since the 1980s waiting for something to happen,” Albanese said earlier this year.

Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Catherine King is also pushing the project.

“High-speed rail is a game changer for real decentralisation, with benefits flowing to both the city and the country,” King said.