Labor leader Anthony Albanese has pledged to begin work on a high-speed train link between Brisbane and Melbourne if his party wins the federal election.
He said his government would initially prioritise a fast rail link between Sydney and Newcastle, before upgrading it to an even quicker service that would cut travel times to just 45 minutes.
Australian aviation’s domestic ‘golden triangle’ between the capitals of NSW, Victoria and Queensland is regarded as one of the most lucrative globally.
Qantas’ service between Sydney and Melbourne alone is thought to be the world’s second-highest revenue generator, bringing in more than $1 billion annually pre-COVID.
“If I’m elected prime minister, I want ours to be the first government that actually gets work underway on high-speed rail,” Albanese said.
“My vision is for high-speed rail that runs from Brisbane to Melbourne. Under a Labor government I lead, the High-Speed Rail Authority will make the corridor from Newcastle to Sydney, which includes stops at the Central Coast, its first priority.
“We’ll start with a fast-rail corridor but we’ll plan and build for the move to high-speed rail.
“Faster rail would see travel times from Newcastle to Sydney cut to just two hours, and once high-speed rail is up and running, this journey would only take 45 minutes.”
Albanese added Labor would set aside $500 million in its first budget to begin acquiring land.
A fast rail train service in Australia has been muted for decades. In 2013, the Rudd Labor government calculated the cost of a Brisbane–Melbourne–Sydney high-speed rail link at $114 billion.
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Currently, train times between Newcastle and Sydney run from 2 hours 30 minutes, with FlyPelican serving the route in the air at just 40 minutes. Flights from Sydney to Melbourne, meanwhile, take around 1 hour 30 minutes.
In Japan, the latest N700s bullet train entered service last year and has an operating speed capped at 285 kilometres per hour.
With the current distance between Sydney and Melbourne via rail clocking in at just over 700km, high-speed trains could theoretically reduce rail times to just two and a half hours.
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