High Speed Rail (HSR)

High speed rail has been discussed in Australia since the 1980s and various studies have been undertaken. The massive investment required has been a significant deterrent to its development, and there has been no strong government commitment to high speed rail. Nevertheless, it is a possible future project which has received considerable attention. A major study, High Speed Rail Study Phase 2 Report, was released on 11 April 2013. The key findings of the report included:

  • The proposed HSR network would comprise a dedicated route between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, a length of approximately 1748 km.

  • In addition to the four capital city stations, there would be stations at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury–Wodonga and Shepparton.

  • The line would be fully operational from the year 2065 and could carry around 84 million passengers each year.

  • Express journey times between Brisbane and Sydney, and between Sydney and Melbourne, would be less than three hours.

  • Total estimated construction cost for the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety would be around $114 billion (in 2012 dollars).

In 2016 a private company, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), released a proposal to build a high speed railway line between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. It said that it had reached deals to secure half of the private land required. The line would include eight intermediate stations. An express service between Sydney and Melbourne would take one hour and 50 minutes, while an all stations service would link the two state capitals in two hours and 45 minutes.


Inland Rail

Inland Rail is a new 1700 km freight rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane. A route through regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland avoids the congested Sydney network. Freight volumes on the east coast of Australia are projected to more than double in coming decades and significant network investment is required to cope with the demand. A typical train on Inland Rail will travel between Melbourne and Brisbane in less than 24 hours, making rail competitive with road transport. The Inland Rail will incorporate 1200 km of existing railway corridors and of 500 km of new track. It is anticipated that it will be constructed over a period of ten years. The Australian Government has committed funding to construction of the line.