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End of the golden triangle? Labor’s new plan for high-speed rail

written by Adam Thorn | January 2, 2022

A lineup of JR East Shinkansen ‘bullet’ trains in October 2012 (WikiCommons)

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.

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“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.

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.

Comments (5)

  • John

    says:

    As a pilot and lover of aviation, I say go for it.

    High Speed rail is all over Asia and Europe. Even countries like Uzbekistan and Morocco have HR lines, Modern, fast, efficient, comfortable, convenient.

    Once you calculate the time to get from the CBD to the airport, check in, board, pushback, taxi, fly, land, wait for bags and then get transport into the city it makes a 90 min flight extend over 4hrs. With no delays. High speed rail? Just jump on the train 15 mins before departure and be in the other city’s CBD one hour earlier.

  • Mark

    says:

    As if it will ever be built.

  • Adrian P

    says:

    Will there be a superfast bus replacement service for when a train breaks down, signal failure and track maintenance?
    Not to mention the track kill, current slow regional trains have delays due to removal of the remains of a kangaroo.
    It would probably take twenty years to build and once built flying will probably be cheaper and quicker (Melbourne to Brisbane without having to go through Sydney, no brainer).
    Also Australian rail design capability is fully committed on existing projects.

  • Mark

    says:

    Election coming up ! Every election there is a promise of a High Speed Rail – and after the election promises are quietly cancelled.

  • hashgf

    says:

    Oh please! How many times have we heard this before from the Liberal and/or Labor party?

    Let us not forget that it was the NSW Labor party who, back in 2004 & 2005, introduced slower train timetables all over NSW. Since then Sydney- Newcastle trains have taken around 10-20 minutes longer than they did even going back to steam train days. NSW Liberal, at the time, criticised the move and claimed they’d reverse it. But of course they never did.

    Then in 2014, the NSW Liberal party closed the final section of the Newcastle train line down. Now the trains don’t even go into the centre of Newcastle! So you have to catch a tram or bus to get to the centre of Newcastle, adding a further 10-20 minutes again.

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