THE potential routes announced this week for the State Government's proposed high-speed rail network could prove greatly beneficial to regional NSW.
THE potential routes announced this week for the State Government's proposed high-speed rail network could prove greatly beneficial to regional NSW. NSW Government

Labor promises high-speed rail to connect to Grafton

GRAFTON could be connected to a high-speed rail link that will allow passengers to travel between capital cities along the eastern seaboard in as little as three hours.

Today, Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese will announce a Shorten Labor government would invest $1billion to begin securing the corridor required to build a high speed rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra.

The project is touted as 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.

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, a Labor government would create a high speed rail authority and require it to:

Work with Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the ACT to finalise the route and begin 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.

The plan builds on the work of a 2013 feasibility study that identified a 1748km route and found the project would return more than $2 in public benefit for every dollar invested.

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

A spokesman for Mr Albanese said the project would bring communities closer to capital cities, allowing for increased commuting and 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," he said.

"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 $11billion in land acquisition and construction costs."

He said the Coalition had 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 boosting productivity and building capacity for the medium to long term," he said.