A private company has published a AU$200bn (£114bn) proposal for Australia’s first high speed rail line, linking Sydney and Melbourne.
Consolidated Land & Rail Australia (Clara) said it would raise private finance for the project, using a “value capture model”.
This involves Clara buying cheap farmland and building eight new “smart cities” from scratch. The cities would be built using proceeds from the increase in value of land that comes from transport and other infrastructure being built nearby.
Clara chairman Nick Cleary told Australia’s ABC news the high speed rail line would revitalise regional areas and revolutionise travel between Australia’s two largest cities.
Yet the plan has been criticised because of fears that it will create “commuter towns”, and avoid direct links with other large established inland cities.
Cleary said a high speed train could run from Sydney to Melbourne in just under two hours, or two hours and 45 minutes. Conventional passenger rail services between the two cities currently take about 12 hours.
The plan would reduce greenhouse emissions between Sydney and Melbourne – the fourth-busiest air transport corridor in the world.
But it is far from the first time that a “Very Fast Train” (as it was called back in 1989) has been proposed for Australia’s east coast.
The second-to-latest iteration in 2013 resulted in an Aecom feasibility study into 1,750km of high speed lines connecting Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It priced the project at AU$114bn (£65.3bn).