The discussion of a High Speed Train (HST) along the east coast of Australia has rumbled on for decades. But now it's running into the Sydney airport issue. The government has recently released a study into the feasibility of a HST system and is completing another report about a location for a second Sydney Airport (SSA).
The Australian Greens argued
in late 2012 that a new report, commissioned by Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt, outlined a strong economic case for High Speed Rail (HSR) and removed the need to build a second airport for Sydney. The study also concluded that $48 billion in benefits would accrue from a HSR network along the East Coast from Melbourne, to Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. High Speed Rail: Benefits that add up, A report for the Australian Greens
, authored by Naomi Edwards, claimed that high-speed rail would lead to shorter commute times, reduced congestion, fewer accidents, and less pollution than existing transport options.
The Australian and NSW Governments are considering the findings of the Joint Study on aviation capacity for the Sydney region
with respect to Winton, Richmond, Badgerys Creek and Canberra Airports. We may expect an announcement on the outcomes of the governments’ joint airport study sometime in 2013.
High Speed Rail Studies
The former Very Fast Train (VFT) proposal and later HST plans for passenger services along the east coast have been well studied since the mid-1980s. So far, no proposal has proven commercially viable without a significant public sector funding contribution and/or other forms of financial concession such as for lands. For a list of earlier reports, see the two Library Publications High speed trains between Canberra and Sydney
from 1996 and Australian Very Fast Trains – A Chronology
of June 1998.
During the 2010 federal election campaign, the Greens, the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal National Party Coalition all announced policy commitments to a feasibility study into an east coast, high speed train system. As well, plans were advanced for completion of an inland rail route to serve freight transport. The Terms of Reference for the latest study were released on 31 October 2010
. The study by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport drew on international experience, public and private sector expertise, growth forecasts and other contemporary data. The initial focus, Moving forward with high speed rail
completed by July 2011, identified requirements for a viable HSR network, including consideration of route and station options and costing.
Bullet Train Party
The Bullet Train for Canberra Party ran six candidates in the ACT Legislative Assembly election held on 20 October 2012. The party ran two candidates in each of the three electorates. Information about each of them may be extracted from the Party’s information sheet
. The party’s policy was discussed in an article covering public transport issues
during the campaign. Buoyed by the campaign’s success, where it won about 4 per cent of the primary votes, the party announced
it will field candidates at the 2013 federal election.
Sydney Airport Futures
The library publication Second Sydney Airport: a decade of deferral 2002–2012
provides detail of the airport saga. In its 8 May 2012 Budget, the Government announced the intention to begin a detailed investigation of the suitability of Wilton as a SSA, while ensuring that Sydney Airport Corporation continued to invest in the existing main airport. The study would also assess the scope for RAAF Base Richmond to handle limited civil operations. The Minister wrote to Sydney Airport to develop a new Master Plan and initiated consultation requirements under its share sale. Meanwhile, there has been a business lobby push
for an expansion of the existing Kingsford Smith airport through the construction of new facilities at Towra Point in Botany Bay. The Towra Point study was conducted by IAC Global consulting
. Minister Albanese maintains
the need for a SSA with or without this or an HST, but New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell has previously pushed for Canberra as the second airport.
Image source: author's own