AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Selling the regional benefits of high-speed rail

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> A recent forum held in Goulburn has highlighted the benefits of high-speed rail to Australia’s regional areas – something that has so far not featured strongly enough in the nation’s high-speed rail debate. </span> <p>Last week Goulburn Mulwaree mayor, Geoff Kettle welcomed around 100 local and interstate visitors to a forum designed to inform attendees on the many benefits that high-speed rail (HSR) and keep it firmly on the agenda of all governments across Australia.</p><p>Speaking at the event, ARA CEO Bryan Nye said until now, Australia’s HSR debate has been dominated by what it could do for capital cities and airports but, there is “much more to the argument.”</p><p>“Global experience shows that high speed rail will dramatically change where Australians live, work and how we travel. This means regional centres like Goulburn will benefit – faster connections will allow people to live regionally and commute to cities for work,” Nye said.</p><p>The forum featured a number of presentations from key industry stakeholders including Central Japan Railway Company GM Gen Okajima Ian Gibbs, Managing Director, CFCL Australia Canberra Airport director planning and government relations Noel McCann and MD Dale Budd &amp Associates Dale Budd.</p><p>Canberra Airport’s McCann told the forum he was not confident the government would spend money on HSR technology but there was immense opportunity to “work our way through that.”</p><p>He indicated that political pressure, emerging from forums like last Thursday’s, was essential in that respect.</p><p>The <em>Goulburn Post</em> reported Gen Okajima saying he would have loved to have caught the train to Goulburn’s transport forum last Thursday.</p><p>But the general manager of Japan’s Central Railway Company Australian office said it would have taken him “twice as long as driving” from Sydney.</p><p>Okajima, whose company runs the 515km long Tokaido Shinkansen rail line in Japan, said the day would have been very different had he jumped on a fast train for a 40-minute trip to Goulburn.</p><p>“I’m very excited to see high speed rail back on the government agenda and I hope it doesn’t derail again,” he told the forum.</p><p>Okajima took the audience on “imaginary HSR journeys” – a three-hour trip from Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane and a 40 minute ride from Goulburn to Sydney, arriving for morning meetings, enjoying lunch and home by 1pm.</p><p>With Australia’s capital cities becoming more congested, improving the way people moved was essential for economic growth, he said.</p><p>Kettle said that HSR along Australia’s eastern seaboard is a “no brainer,” and the dire need for a second Sydney airport needed to be factored into the HSR debate.</p><p>The forum also highlighted the importance of Australia’s rail freight network.</p><p>“In order for Australia to prosper economically and be environmentally efficient it needs a reliable transport system for both passenger and freight traffic,” Kettle said.</p><p>“A high speed link along the eastern seaboard combined with the opening up of the inland freight corridor is the only alternative,” he said.</p>