Three faster rail business cases have been selected for development under the Federal Government’s $20 million Faster Rail Prospectus.

The business cases are expected to be delivered over the next twelve months, and the Federal Government’s funding for the business cases will be combined with funding provided by the project proponents.

The intention of this process is to develop detailed proposals for faster rail services between major cities and surrounding regional areas.

The successful proposals in NSW, Queensland and Victoria were selected following a competitive assessment process for their potential to substantially improve the efficiency of rail links between key regional centres and major cities.

If these proposals prove to be viable, they offer the potential to significantly reduce journey times on these key corridors—meaning better options for people who want to have the lifestyle of a regional centre but access to the job opportunities of a big city.

In the Faster Rail prospectus, the Federal Government stated that it wanted to look at both ‘evolutionary’ and ‘revolutionary’ proposals—and the three proposals chosen for further development are at different points along this spectrum. One involves upgrades to existing track, another proposes entirely new track, and the third sees a mix. It has also ensured that three different transport corridors, in three different states, are being considered.

Once the business case for each proposal is complete they will then proceed to independent assessment by Infrastructure Australia.

Following a competitive selection process, the three proposals selected for business case development are:

  • The NSW Government proposal for Sydney to Newcastle;
  • Consolidated Land and Rail Australia’s (CLARA) proposal for Melbourne to Greater Shepparton
  • North Coast Connect consortium’s proposal for Brisbane, and the regions of Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

CLARA’s proposal includes two new SMART, sustainable, greenfield cities being built on sites within the Greater Shepparton Region and within the Strathbogie Shire. The two new SMART cities will be connected by world class high speed rail (HSR) enabling the new and existing communities to be within 35 minutes and 25 minutes respectively to the CBD of Melbourne.

CLARA CEO, Nick Cleary, said, “We have been working hard for two years to get to this exciting point. To demonstrate the CLARA plan and private funding model, and in the process help solve some of the major issues impacting our nation is a great step forward.”

CLARA has engaged with local shires along the designated corridor, and has received written support from Greater Shepparton City Council and Strathbogie Shire Council for the CLARA plan. New SMART, sustainable, greenfield cities will provide greater opportunities for jobs for the existing community and the future residents of the new CLARA Cities. Further benefits of advanced healthcare, high tech education, renewable energy, recycled water and a High Speed Rail will ensure the world’s most livable cities can be delivered.

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Mark Bailey, welcomed the announcement of funding for the North Coast Connect business case.

“Last year we provided our detailed business case for the duplication of the rail line from Beerburrum to Nambour to Infrastructure Australia,” Mr Bailey said.

“Beerburrum to Nambour is a key element of the North Coast Connect project and we look forward to favourable consideration of our business case so the duplication can get underway as soon as possible.”

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO, Danny Broad, said ARA strongly supports rail optimisation as a concept and is keen to reinforce to governments the value in upgrading existing freight and passenger networks.

“The ARA welcomes the news that three proposals have been selected for further business case development and we look forward to working with governments on these important initiatives.

“Incremental improvements to existing freight and passenger rail infrastructure to allow increased train speeds will provide a better rail service for Australian rail customers.”

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