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Background Paper 16 1997-98
Australian Very Fast Trains-A Chronology

Paula Williams
Economics, Commerce and Industrial Relations Group
6 April 1998

Contents

Introduction

Chronology

Attachments

 

Introduction

Since the early 1980s, when high speed rail services in France received considerable publicity, there have been a number of schemes to introduce similar services to Australia. The largest of these schemes was a plan to construct and operate a line between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. This scheme was backed by BHP, Elders IXL, Kumagai Gumi, and TNT-the VFT 'Joint Venture'. This scheme was abandoned in 1991, primarily because it failed to secure tax changes from the Federal Government that it claimed would have made it financially viable. Presently, (April 1998) a range of more modest proposals, including schemes to link Canberra and Sydney have emerged. Whether this project will be successful or 'derailed' as was the Joint Venture, will be of considerable interest.

There appear to be a number of similarities between the various proposals to build high speed rail lines. The proposals are backed by private enterprise, and considerable resources are devoted to extensive feasibility studies. The proponents of the schemes claim that there would be several advantages to the projects, including:

  • reduced travel time
  • job creation
  • industry development
  • economic stimulus
  • increased tourism
  • decreased pressures on road and air transport, including the airports
  • rural and regional development
  • enhanced freight capacity.

The proposals are exceptionally costly compared to conventional rail systems, with the cost increasing substantially for the fastest train technologies. The least costly, but slowest fast train technology involves 'tilt trains', while the fastest technology, involving magnetic levitation, is extremely expensive. Between these two extremes is the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) technology used by the French. While 'tilt trains' may appear to offer a short term financial advantage over more expensive technology, they may not operate at speeds which attract enough customers to make them viable.

Government support for proposals has generally been positive but guarded, with approval being dependent upon the projects demonstrating that they would bring considerable benefits, but not require a net government outlay. A number of reports have been conducted by or on behalf of governments to determine the impacts and/or feasibility of the projects, and unlike the reports released by the proponents of the schemes, the conclusions of the reports have been mixed. Concerns have been expressed about the social, environmental, and financial impacts of the services-and especially the possibility that the government will need to 'bail out' failed projects.

The proposals are dependent upon both State, Territory and Federal Governments for a range of assistance including land acquisition, agency cooperation, and perhaps the provision of financial incentives. There have however been difficulties in coordinating State, Territory and Federal Government approaches to proposals-with each on occasion accusing the others of being uncooperative. There is also the danger that if a coordinated approach to fast rail services is abandoned the States may separately introduce incompatible fast train technology, which could make each service less viable and prevent the development of a national network of fast trains.

This chronology attempts to provide a background to the current proposals, and given that the current fast train proposal between Canberra and Sydney has had significant precedents, should be of use in placing it in an appropriate context.

Chronology

Milestones

Details

Source Documents

1964

High speed rail line commences operation in Japan

Japan's Shinkansen line opens. Trains run at average speeds of 210 km an hour.

'Train reaction', Australian, 14 Jul 1988.

December 1979

Proposal to electrify the Melbourne-Sydney line

At the 1979 Premiers' Conference it is agreed to commission a report examining the feasibility of electrifying the Sydney-Melbourne line. Proponents believe that electrification could p

otentially decrease rail travel time from over 12 hours to under 10 hours, and involve energy, staff and maintenance cost savings. The Sofrerail report is subsequently released in June 1980 and is supportive. In the lead up to 18 October Federal Election, Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser promotes the proposal. Concurrently, the Senate Standing Committee on National Resources examines a number of alternative energy sources-including an examination of the rationales for the electrification of rural rail lines. The Senate report finds that electrification of the Sydney-Melbourne line is probably not justified on economic or energy efficiency grounds.

'Rail scheme likely to be rejected', Age, 11 September. 1980.

Elrail, Sofrerail, R. Travers Morgan Consultants. Sydney-Melbourne Railway Electrification Study. The Consultants, Brisbane, 1980.

385.068 f ELR

Senate Standing Committee on National Resources. The Replacement of Petroleum-Based Fuels by Alternative Sources of Energy. AGPS, Canberra, 1980.

333.79 AUS

1981

High speed rail line commences operation in France

It is reported that a high speed train between Paris and Lyons involving a distance of 427 km commences operation. This line was later expanded to include Marseilles. By 1989, the system operates at average speeds of about 270 km an hour and carries about 15 million passengers annually.

'Very fast train winds tortuous track', The Australian Financial Review, 11 October 1989.

October 1981

High speed rail line proposed for Australia

The Institution of Engineers proposes the Bicentennial High Speed Railway Project, to link the five capitals in south-eastern Australia. The project involves the building of new railway lines to replace sections of existing track, the upgrading of other sections, and the construction of bypasses. High speed diesel/electric trains would be purchased, and eventually the line would be electrified. The scheme proposes that eventually the journey between Sydney and Melbourne could be completed in 9 hours, Sydney-Canberra in 3 hours, Melbourne-Canberra in 6 1/2 hours, Brisbane-Sydney in under 12 hours and Adelaide-Melbourne in under 8 hours.

National Committee on Railway Engineering. The Bicentennial High-Speed Railway Project. sl.: sn, December 1981.

June 1984

CSIRO officers propose a high speed rail link between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne

The Chairman of the CSIRO, Dr Paul Wild, and colleagues Dr John Brotchie and Dr John Nicholson propose a high speed rail link between Sydney Canberra and Melbourne via Cooma, Orbost and the Latrobe Valley. The train would run at 350 km/h, and be based on French TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) technology. The initial cost is estimated to be $2.5 billion, and they claim could generate initial revenue of $120 million a year against operating costs of $50 million a year. The scheme is seen as an ideal Bicentennial project.

Wild, J. P. Brotchie, J. F. and Nicholson, A. J. A Proposal for a Fast Railway Between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne: An Exploratory Study. CSIRO, Canberra, May 1984.

CSIRO. VFT - A Fast Railway Between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne: a CSIRO Proposal. [CSIRO], Canberra, January 1985.

PAMP 385.0994 p VET

September 1984

Unfavourable response to CSIRO proposal

It is reported that the Bureau of Transport Economics finds the scheme proposed by Dr Paul Wild to be uneconomic. The Bureau finds that Dr Wild's cost estimate of $2500 million to build the system to be $1500 million too low, and as a consequence, passenger fares would need to be set at a rate that would not be commercially viable.

The Minister for Transport, Mr Morris rejects Dr Wild's proposal.

'Supertrain likely to be fiscal disaster, study concludes', Age, 8 September 1984.

House of Representatives: Hansard. 12 September 1994, p. 1119.

24 September 1984

Elders IXL and TNT become involved in the proposal

It is reported that Sir Peter Abeles, chair of TNT expresses his interest in the project, and talks between Dr Wild, Elders IXL, and TNT begin.

'Fast train or fast bucks?', Sunday Age, 24 September 1989.

October 1984

Various business interests become involved in the proposal

Three banks, two construction companies and other unnamed business interests are claimed to be interested in the funding of Dr Paul Wild's proposal. Feasibility studies are discussed.

'Builders and banks revive hopes for supertrain', Australian, 8 October 1984.

24 September 1986

Very Fast Train Joint Venture established

The Very Fast Train (VFT) Joint Venture established. The group comprises TNT, Elders IXL, and Kumagai Gumi. The plan is to be to build a line from Sydney to Canberra via Bowral and Goulburn, and a line from Canberra to Melbourne via Cooma, east Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley (the 'coastal route') or alternatively though Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga, Wangaratta and Seymour (the 'inland route'). (The Australian Conservation Foundation subsequently strongly objects to the coastal route because of the sensitive nature of the environment along parts of the proposed corridor). Dr Paul Wild is appointed director of a $600 000 pre-feasibility study of the Sydney-Melbourne and Canberra-Sydney routes.

Stackhouse, John, 'A Railway System for the Space Age', Australian Business, July 30, 1986, p. 71.

'Fast train or fast backs?', Sunday Age, 24 September 1989.

June 1987

VFT pre-feasibility study

VFT pre-feasibility study completed.

James, Denis and James, Matthew. High speed trains between Canberra and Sydney. Current Issues Brief No. 17, 1996/97. Department of the Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 1997.

21 August 1987

BHP is reported to have joined the VFT project as an equal partner.

'Fast train or fast bucks?', Sunday Age, 24 September 1989.

July 1988

$19 million VFT feasibility study initiated by the VFT Joint Venture.

 

August 1988

VFT passenger market analysis completed.

 

December 1988

VFT Concept Report seeks Government support

The VFT Concept Report is completed. The proposal outlined is to build a high speed rail system between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Trains will operate at speeds up to 350 km an hour. The system will be built and operated by private enterprise.

The Report seeks positive responses from the NSW, Victorian, Commonwealth Governments and the ACT Administration. Governments are urged to show their support for the project by:

  • facilitating access to land for survey and route investigation purposes
  • ensuring that all relevant departments and instrumentalities cooperate
  • indicating that after due process, governments will support the project and that relevant legislation will be enacted to facilitate land acquisition.

VFT Joint Venture. VFT: concept report. VFT, Canberra, December 1988.

Mono 385.370994 VFT

March 1989

The Joint Venture's proposal expands to include Queensland

It is reported that Queensland Premier Mike Ahern, State Transport Minister Peter McKechnie, and State Tourism Minister Rob Borbidge met with the Joint Venture Chairman Dr Paul Wild. The Queensland Government agrees in principle to the Joint Venture's proposal to link Brisbane and Sydney with the VFT, and to participate in a feasibility study and an environmental impact assessment.

'Brisbane to Sydney VFT appraisal in principal', Canberra Times, 27 March 1989.

7 March 1989

VFT has Prime Ministerial support

It is reported that in a caucus meeting, Prime Minister Bob Hawke strongly supports the VFT project saying that it would revolutionise the geographic and demographic aspects of cities on the route.

'Hawke backs Very Fast Train', Age, 8 March 1989.

21 March 1989

Calls for a government inquiry into the VFT

Senator Chris Schacht, in his capacity as a member of the ALP Caucus Transport and Communications Committee, is reported to have called for a government inquiry into the VFT proposal to examine the advantages trains using magnetic levitation would have over other technology.

'Senator calls for federal inquiry into Very Fast Train', Age, 22 March 1989.

14 August 1989

Cabinet considers the VFT proposal and refers the matter to a Senate Committee

The Cabinet considers the VFT proposal. Leaked details of the Cabinet Memorandum suggest that all government departments which contributed to the memorandum (excluding the Industry Department) recommended that the Government 'neither support or oppose the project' noting that 'there is still much that remains unknown or undecided about the VFT project and changes central to it could occur throughout the feasibility study'. Cabinet refers the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure.

Bob Brown, Minister for Land Transport and Shipping. Very Fast Train. Media Release, 154/89, 14 August 1989. (Attachment 3)

'Very Fast Train - very fast', Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August, 1989

17 August 1989

Senate inquiry's terms of reference.

Senator Robert Ray, Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, moves that the Senate refers the VFT proposal to the Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure, and reports by the last parliamentary sitting day in May 1990. The Committee is to examine:

(a) the effects which such a project could have on existing and future land use patterns and transport and communications infrastructure in south-eastern Australia;

(b) other possible environmental impacts of such a project including possible noise and atmospheric effects;

(c) transit time, route and technology options;

(d) safety aspects, both in terms of protection of passengers and in terms of effect on the road toll;

(e) the effect on energy use: and,

That, in conducting this inquiry, the Committee have regard to the scope and coverage of any other concurrent review or inquiry, including environmental impact study processes, into the VFT and seek to consult and liaise as necessary, to avoid unnecessary duplication.

Senate Hansard, 17 August 1989, p. 230.

September 1989

The Victorian Government establishes a process to review the VFT proposal

The Victorian Government establishes a VFT review panel, chaired by Monash University Vice-Chancellor Professor Mal Logan. The panel releases an Interim Report on 26 June 1990, which it claims to be incomplete as key information was withheld from it by the consortium. The Interim Report suggests that the inland route is preferable to the east Gippsland route. A Final Report, supporting the Interim Report, is released in June 1991.

'Cain calls for withheld data on VFT', Australian, 27 June 1990.

16 September 1989

Opposition to the VFT proposal

Conservation, community groups and unions are reported to have met in Sydney and call for the Federal Environment Minister, Senator Graham Richardson to establish a commission of inquiry into the VFT under the Environmental Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974. The inquiry should examine the proposed route, means of land acquisition, and the impact of the project on local communities.

'Fast train or fast bucks?', Sunday Age, 24 September 1989.

October 1989

VFT Joint Venture releases a progress report

VFT Joint Venture releases 'Focus for the Future', which provides input to the Victorian, ACT and Federal inquiries into the VFT.

VFT Joint Venture. VFT: focus for the future: a progress report, October 1989. VFT, Canberra, 1989.

Folio 385.0994 f VFT

October 1989

VFT Joint Venture proposes a scheme to benefit from increased land values along the rail corridor

It is reported that a confidential discussion paper from the VFT consortium entitled 'Sharing Value Added to Property in the VFT Corridor', is circulated to the Federal, NSW, Victorian and ACT Governments. In the paper, the consortium suggests that the VFT proposal is partially dependent on the benefits from boosted land prices along the rail corridor, and suggests three options for taxing land-holders who benefit from increases in the value of their properties. The paper allegedly proposes that proceeds from these taxes are shared between the VFT consortium and governments.

'Gains tax all for VFT land', Sunday Age, 13 May 1990.

November 1989

Report for the Victorian Government on the VFT released

Touche Ross and Dames & Moore report on the impact of the VFT on the State for the Victorian Government. The Report examines environmental impacts, socio-economic impacts, transport impacts, route choice, and economic impacts. The Report is hampered by a lack of information. The Report concludes that:

  • mechanisms for obtaining missing data should be established
  • local communities should be involved in the planning process, and appropriate funding provided to facilitate these activities
  • strategies for resolving disputes and avoiding delays be established.

Dames & Moore. The Very Fast Train : preliminary appraisal of impacts on Victoria. Dames and Moore, Touche Ross, Melbourne, 1989.

8 December 1989

Opponents to the VFT demonstrate

The Canberra Region VFT Action Group, representing 60 union, community and environmental groups in south-east Australia is reported to have demonstrated outside the ACT Legislative Assembly against the VFT. The group is concerned with the social, economic and environmental effects of the VFT and argued that the Senate inquiry into the VFT was inadequate. The group specifically wanted answers to questions on noise, and the government's or taxpayers responsibility for infrastructure costs.

'New Canberra action group wants Commonwealth VFT inquiry', Canberra Times, 9 December 1989.

January 1990

VFT supporters group established

The VFT Progress Group is formed to support the VFT proposal. The Group consists of business organisations including the Canberra Development Board, the Canberra Association for Regional Development and the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canberra.

 

January 1990

The ACT Government's response to the VFT Concept Report

The ACT Government issues its response to the VFT Concept Report. The Response gives conditional support to the proposal, and indicates that there are outstanding issues that need to be addressed before full support can be given. In particular:

  • the impact of the project on the ACT needs to be studied, and a cost/benefit analysis completed
  • explanation and analysis of route, track alignment and station location
  • the impact of the VFT on the planned urban structure of Canberra, including the natural environment
  • social impacts
  • commercial viability
  • impact on Government expenditure and revenues
  • public consultation mechanisms
  • noise
  • the possible location of the VFT headquarters in the ACT.

The Government indicates that it would be willing to support the project by facilitating land acquisition, and instructing relevant Government agencies to cooperate with the Joint Venture-but agencies may charge the Joint Venture for some services. The final proposal will be subject to normal public and Government scrutiny.

ACT Government. Response to the VFT concept report. ACT Government, Canberra, ACT, 1990.

PAMP 385.0994 p RES

January 1990

The NSW Government investigates tilt trains

It is reported that NSW Transport Minister Bruce Baird has held discussions with a tilt train company in London, and gives the go-ahead for a feasibility study for a tilt train. There is concern that two high speed railways will be built-which would be unsupportable.

'New fast trian proposal tilts at VFT', Canberra Times, 19 January 1990.

January 1990

Klynveld Peat Marwick Goedeler report to the ACT Office of Industry and Development

KPMG Peat Marwick and ARUP Ove Arup Engineering Consultants present a report to the ACT Office of Industry and Development on the economic costs and benefits of the Very Fast Train Project. The report concludes that the VFT project could bring substantial benefits to the ACT. In particular, the project may provide annual benefits to the ACT of $30 million in travel savings, 430 new jobs, a population increase of 800, and household income growth of $10 million. Costs to the ACT are estimated to be between $35 and $50 million. The report urges a proactive approach to ensure that the benefits of the project are captured by the ACT.

Klynveld Peat Marwick Goedeler. Report for the ACT Office of Industry and Development: Study of the Economic Costs and Benefits of the Very Fast Train Project. KPMG Peat Marwick Management Consultants, ARUP Ove Arup and Partners Engineering consultants. KPMG/ARUP, Canberra, 1990.

Folio 385.370994 f REP

21-22 March 1990

National VFT Conference

National VFT Conference, sponsored by the Institution of Engineers, is held in Canberra. The conference is supportive of the VFT proposal, and aims to inform the four governments concerned with evaluating the proposal of the findings of the conference.

National Conference on the Very Fast Train (VFT) Project: Canberra 21-22 March 1990. Institution of Engineers, Barton ACT, Australia, 1990.

Anals S 690 NAT

29 May 1990

The Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure (Senator Foreman) tables the Interim report on Aspects of the proposal for a Very Fast Train.

Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure. Interim Report on Aspects of the Proposal for a Very Fast Train. Senate, Canberra, May 1990.

1 June 1990

In the Senate, Senator Powell (Australian Democrats, Victoria), presents a petition signed by 168 people against the VFT.

Senate Hansard, 1 June 1990, p. 1693.

June 1990

The Victorian Very Fast Train Review Panel's Interim Report

The Victorian Government's Very Fast Train Review Panel issues an Interim Report. The Panel supports the rail connection, and recommends that in general, the Government should facilitate the construction of the line. The Panel does call for the Joint Venture to provide a substantial amount of additional information and to undertake additional analysis of impacts.

Very Fast Train Review Panel. Interim Report. Melbourne: The Panel, 1990.

Folio 385.370994 f VER

June 1990

ACT VFT Advisory Committee Report

The ACT Government's VFT Advisory Committee reports. Recommendations address:

  • environmental impacts
  • financial implications
  • public interest aspects
  • social impacts

Further studies are recommended regarding fair dealing practice, noise effects, safety matters, land acquisition and tax incentives.

Scully, Jim. Report on the Very Fast Train Project: Public Consultation and Major Issues / ACT VFT Advisory Committee, Canberra: ACT VFT Advisory Committee, 1990.

Folio 385.09947 f REP

14 June 1990

The NSW Treasury and Department of State Report

The NSW Treasury and the Department of State Development presents a report to the Senate Committee examining the VFT proposal. The report apparently does not give support to the scheme.

'NSW refuses to support Very Fast Train plan at this stage', Age, 15 June 1990

21 August 1990

In the Senate, Senator Powell (Australian Democrats, Victoria), presents a petition signed by 94 citizens calling for a national inquiry into the VFT proposal

Senate. Hansard, 21 August 1990, p. 1801.

25 August 1990

Elders withdraws from the Joint Venture

It is reported that Elders IXL withdraws from the VFT because of financial problems they are experiencing.

'Elders-IXL withdraws from VFT', Canberra Times, 25 August 1990.

October 1990

VFT Joint Venture report on Economics of the Very Fast Train

VFT Joint Venture releases a report on the economic impact of the VFT. The report is strongly supportive of the proposal.

VFT Joint Venture. The Economics of the very fast train. VFT, Canberra, 1990.

Folio 385.0994 f ECO

November 1990

VFT Joint Venture report on VFT Project Evaluation

VFT Joint Venture releases its Project Evaluation Report. This document includes a description of the project, its justification, performance criteria, future processes, and route selection.

Elders IXL. VFT: Project evaluation. VFT Joint Venture, Canberra, 1990.

Folio 385.1 f VFT

10 December 1990

The four governments meet to discuss the VFT

The Commonwealth, NSW, Victorian and ACT Governments meet with the Joint Venture partners to discuss the VFT proposal. The Governments agree to coordinated and streamlined processes to assess and progress the proposal.

Prime Minister, Joint Statement for Media. 10 December 1990. (Attachment 6)

11 January 1991

TNT withdraws from the Joint Venture.

It is reported that TNT loses interest in the project and withholds funding. Changes to the proposal which meant that the VFT could have been a competitor with Ansett for some freight and the decision to pursue the inland route are reported to be the reason for TNT's decision. BHP and Kumagai Gumi continue to be involved.

VFT 'in no hurry' as Abeles backs off. Canberra Times, 11 January 1991.

18 February 1991

In the Senate, Senators Kemp (Liberal, Victoria), and Powell present a petition from 109 and 21 citizens respectively calling for a Federal inquiry into the VFT looking particularly at energy and greenhouse strategies, land use and the development of new cities.

Senate Hansard, 18 February 1991, p. 692.

19 February 1991

In the Senate, Senator Patterson (Liberal, Victoria) presents a petition signed by 24 citizens calling for a national inquiry into the VFT.

Senate Hansard, 19 February 1991, p. 786.

11 March 1991

In the Senate, Senator Spindler (Australian Democrats, Victoria) presents a petition signed by 142 citizens calling for a Federal inquiry into to the VFT.

Senate Hansard, 11 March 1991, p. 1552.

13 March 1991

Senate committee reports

Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure review completed. The Committee recommends that:

  • public comments sought for a period of six weeks regarding environmental impacts
  • there be financial protection for the Commonwealth if the project fails
  • a study of the relationship between the VFT and a Fast Freight Train (FFT) be conducted, and that the Federal Government should consider paying for the cost of making lines suitable for the FFT if the FFT cannot use the VFT lines
  • due to safety considerations, relevant governments approve any sharing of the VFT corridor by other utilities such as pipelines or communication cables
  • scrutiny of noise standards be undertaken as part of the public consultation process
  • there is provision for the uniform provision and enforcement of safety standards. These standards to be no less than those applied overseas, and implemented cooperatively between relevant governments. The Commonwealth to have the power to act unilaterally if the cooperative approach fails.

The Committee does not consider the economic viability of the project, but does rule out use of magnetic levitation technology over the longer corridor route because of its cost.

Senate Standing committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure. Aspects of the Proposal for a Very Fast Train: (final report). The Committee, Canberra, March 1991.

Mono 385.370994 AUS

26 March 1991

Cabinet considers the VFT and refers it to a subcommittee

Cabinet considers a submission from the Treasurer, Paul Keating, and the Minister for Land Transport, Bob Brown, on the VFT project. Cabinet decides to create a subcommittee to examine the proposal in more depth. The subcommittee comprises: Mr Keating, Treasurer; Senator Button, Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce; Mr Dawkins, Minister for Employment, Education and Training; Mr Willis, Minister for Finance; and Mr Brown, Minister for Land Transport.

Bob Brown, Minister for Land Transport. Media Release, 105/91, 26 March 1991.

June 1991

Victoria's Very Fast Train Review Panel reports

The Victorian Government's Very Fast Train Review Panel, chaired by Professor Mal Logan, releases its final report. While hampered by a lack of resources access to information, the report makes, inter alia, the following recommendations:

  • that the Hume corridor (i.e. The Inland Route) rather than the Gippsland route (ie. The Coastal Route) be chosen
  • that land acquisition powers not be given to the VFT Joint Venture, but land be acquired by government and leased to the Joint Venture
  • that there be Federal coordination of the proposal as part of a national transport strategy
  • that the Victorian Government precludes financial intervention by Government if the project runs into difficulties
  • that the Government considers subsidising concession passengers travel on the VFT rather than continuing to operate its own passenger services
  • the establishment of a State Environmental Protection Policy on high speed rail noise
  • that time-lines be established for the preparation of additional assessments, including an Environmental Effects Statement.

Very Fast Train Review Panel. Final Report. Very Fast Train Review Panel, Melbourne, 1991.

1 June 1991

Premiers' Conference

At the Premiers Conference, South Australia's Bannon Government is reported to have pressured the Federal Government to agree to tax changes that would assist major infrastructure projects.

'Fast train project back on the rails', Australian, 5 June 1991.

6 June 1991

Alternative approach to tax incentives presented to the Federal Government

The VFT Joint Venture submits an alternative approach on tax proposals relating to the VFT project to the Government. This proposal involves benefit transfer where tax deductions could be passed through to the company's shareholders. The original proposal involved tax deductible equity and franked interest bonds.

VFT Joint Venture. News Release. New Tax proposals from VFT. 6 June 1991.

20 June 1991

The Government responds to the Senate report

The Government's response to the Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure report is released. The Government indicates that it is generally supportive of the project, but has reservations about the proposed taxation treatment of the VFT. In particular, the report indicates:

  • support for the public consultation period of six weeks for environmental concerns-subject to agreement between the four relevant governments
  • support for mechanisms to limit the financial liability of governments if the project fails
  • rejects the call for the Government to pay for changes to lines in order to make them suitable for Fast Freight Trains (FFT), if the VFT lines can not be used for FFT
  • that safety issues arising from a sharing of the VFT corridor by pipelines, communications cables, etc be evaluated by an independent party according to international rail safety standards-not by the Federal Government
  • agrees that the noise standards applying to the VFT be exposed to full public scrutiny either prior to or as part of the Environmental Impact Statement assessment process
  • agrees that uniform safety standards should be a high priority.

Minister for Land Transport. Senate Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure. Report on: Aspects of the Proposal for a Very Fast Train. Government Response. The Committee, Canberra, 1991.

7 July 1991

Report urging government tax concessions

A confidential report prepared by Credit Suisse First Boston Australia Bank for the Joint Venture partners allegedly finds that the VFT proposal is not viable without government tax concessions. The report lists the project's other weaknesses as:

  • an unsatisfactory nominal internal rate of return (15.9% for equity investors)
  • no established track record
  • a high debt to equity ratio (4:1)
  • no recourse to project sponsors
  • the possible non-attainment of passengers and freight market revenues
  • the possibility of capital and operating cost over-runs and completion delays
  • no cash dividends before 2010.

'Report casts doubts on viability of VFT', Age, 5 July 1991.

'Doubleday, W.A. VFT-The Penultimate Chapter?', Newsrail, November 1991, pp. 350-351.

August 1991

Cabinet rejects proposals regarding tax concessions

Cabinet rejects the Joint Venture's proposals regarding taxation treatment that would have allowed tax deductions for tax losses from construction to be passed to shareholders in the operating company. This would have allowed investors to write off losses on the investment against their income at 39 cents in the dollar. It is claimed by the Joint Venture that these proposals will attract private sector investment in a range of infrastructure projects-not just the VFT project. Former Federal Finance Minister Peter Walsh claims that the tax concessions as proposed would have cost $1.4 billion.

VFT Consortium unveils Brisbane-Adelaide plan. Age, 26 February 1992.

VFT Joint Venture, News Release, 22 July 1991.

VFT Benefit Transfer: A proposal to allow companies involved in delayed income projects to distribute accruing tax losses to shareholders. VFT Joint Venture, Canberra, June 1991. (Attachment 8)

August 1991

Government undertakes to consider tax concessions in another forum

The Government undertakes to give further consideration to the Joint Venture's tax proposals at the November 1991 Special Premiers' Conference.

Kerin, John, Treasurer. Press Release, no. 69, 6 August, 1991. Very Fast Train Project. (Attachment 9)

August 1991

VFT Joint Venture folds

The project subsequently folds allegedly because of Cabinet's rejection of the Joint Venture's proposals regarding taxation. Other reasons for failure may have been the suspicion that the project was motivated by real estate development, very high costs, and a disparate group of backers who lacked a coordinated and focused approach.

'Canberra express a capital idea', Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 1993

'BHP pulls out of fast train project', Australian Financial Review, 7 August 1991.

February 1992

New Prime Minister allocates funds to upgrade conventional rail links

Paul Keating releases the One Nation economic statement. One Nation contains some modest funding initiatives to upgrade infrastructure and create jobs. Funds are subsequently committed to the standard-gauge national rail link from Brisbane to Perth via Melbourne and Adelaide most of which is expended on a low cost gauge standardisation of the Melbourne-Adelaide rail line.

'VFT project waiting to be revived', Canberra Times, August 16, 1992.

8 October 1992

NSW and ACT investigate a tilt train line between Sydney and Canberra

It is reported that NSW Minister for Transport, Bruce Baird, announces that expressions of interest are being sought by the NSW and ACT Governments to develop a tilt train service between Sydney and Canberra. Proposals are to be lodged by December 7, 1992.

'ACT, NSW call for tilt-train proposals', Canberra Times, October 9, 1992. (Attachment 14)

August 1993

The Speedrail group proposes Canberra-Sydney line

It is reported that Speedrail Pty Ltd, comprising an engineering consultancy, project managers and GEC-Alsthom proposes a $2.4 billion Sydney-Canberra line. The proposal is substantially similar to the VFT proposal, except that it is confined to the Sydney-Canberra corridor. The proposed service would reduce travel time between Sydney and Canberra to 75 minutes, operate hourly, and cost approximately $72 for an economy fare. The proposal involves building new tracks, and would create between 18,000 and 35,000 jobs. The proposal does not seek changes to the tax law or tax concessions.

'Canberra examines $2.4bn fast train plan', Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 1993.

September 1993

Sydney wins the 2000 Olympic Games. Federal Industry Minister, Alan Griffith is reported to have indicated that the ALP Government would support the Sydney-Canberra line as a way of benefiting from the Games.

'Games boost to fast train', Sunday Herald Sun, 26 September 1993.

5 October 1993

The Commonwealth begins examining Canberra-Sydney proposal

A working group is established within the Federal Treasury to examine the proposal by the Speedrail group to build the Canberra-Sydney line.

 

24 October 1993

The ACT agrees to a joint task-force

The ACT indicates its support for an inter-governmental task force involving the ACT, NSW and Commonwealth Governments to evaluate the Speedrail proposal. Special Minister of State Frank Walker had previously indicated that the Commonwealth would support a joint taskforce

Speedrail. ACT Government Supports Speedrail Task Force. Press Release, 24 October 1993.

23 November 1993

The Canberra-Sydney line receives bilateral support

The Federal Coalition backs the high speed rail link between Sydney and Canberra. It is reported that at a joint party meeting, the parties decide to send a letter of support to Speedrail.

'Coalition supports high-speed rail link', Canberra Times, 24 November 1993.

5 January 1994

NSW proposes alternative technology

NSW Transport Minister, Bruce Baird is reported to have said that the high speed rail proposal is too expensive, and proposes that the cheaper tilt train technology be used instead.

'Fast train link may be too costly, Minister', Age, 6 January, 1994.

3 June 1994

Commonwealth, ACT and NSW Governments agree to a joint study

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Senator Cook, and ACT Chief Minister, Rosemary Follett, announce a jointly funded feasibility study into the Speedrail proposal for a high speed rail link between Sydney and Canberra. $50000 is to be contributed by each Government. Speedrail is to carry out the study. The NSW Government indicates that it will provide technical advice.

Speedrail is to contribute $250000 to the project.

'Fast train studied', Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 1994.

Speedrail feasibility study to begin. Press Release, Speedrail. 3 June 1994. (Attachment 16)

'Speedrail feasibility study begins', W/E Australian 4-5 June 1994.

October 1994

Qld Government purchases tilt trains

The Queensland Government is reported to have signed a $6.2 million contract with a Maryborough company to build a tilt train to run on the newly upgraded rail link between Brisbane and Rockhampton.

'Queensland shows a $62.5m leaning to new tilt train', Australian Financial Review, 31 October, 1994.

8 November 1994

The Victorian Government commences a feasibility study

It is reported that the Victorian Government establishes a committee headed by former Federal Transport Minister, Mr Peter Nixon, to investigate the feasibility of a VFT between Melbourne and Sydney, and steps the Government needs to take to implement the technology. The Committee's terms of reference are to examine:

  • the status of any current proposal for very fast and/or high- speed passenger train services between Melbourne and Sydney, and across Australia
  • the level of support and opposition to a VFT between Melbourne and Sydney
  • the immediate action required to prepare for high speed trains some time in the future
  • the options for future VFT route corridors
  • VFT and high speed passenger services operating in other countries, looking at technology used and financial performance.

The Committee is criticised by the managing director of Speedrail, Dale Budd, for not including in its terms of reference an examination of the issue involved in insuring that Victorian high speed trains are compatible with others.

'Victoria revives fast train proposal', Age, 9 November 1994. (Attachment 17)

29 May 1995

Senator McDonald (NP) gives notice that on the next day of sitting he will move that the Senate:

(a) notes that:

  1. the Sydney 2000 Olympics is now only four and a half years away,
  2. an efficient transport system is essential to ferry the multitude of domestic and international visitors between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, and
  3. it is time for the VFT proposal to be put back on the public agenda; and

(b) condemns an unimaginative Labor Government which killed the project when it was proposed by refusing to consider tax breaks to the developers; and

(c) acknowledges the tax concessions the Coalition, before the 1993 federal election, was willing to make to ensure that this valuable project went ahead.

Senate Hansard, 29 May 1995, p. 464.

February-June 1995

A X2000 tilt train, manufactured by Asea Brown Boveri in Sweden is trialed by the NSW State Rail Authority in country areas. The train tilts into corners, which allows it to take corners faster than conventional trains. It is hoped that the tilt train would reduce the rail travel time between Canberra and Sydney from 4 hours and 10 minutes to about 2 hours on the existing track. The trial is reported to be less than fully successful because the deficiencies of the existing track.

'Up to speed? State Rail puts Swedish tilt train to the test', Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February, 1995.

21 September 1995

EPAC recommends stopping Infrastructure Bonds

The Economic Planning Advisory Committee (EPAC) recommends that infrastructure bonds be discontinued after 1997-98. (Investors who buy infrastructure bonds are eligible for tax deductions. Any company that issues infrastructure bonds needs Federal Government approval.)

EPAC Private Infrastructure Task Force. EPAC Private Infrastructure Task Force: final report. AGPS, Canberra, 1995.

17 January 1996

The Coalition claims the ALP Government is not committed to the proposal

The Sydney-Canberra rail link becomes a federal election issue, with Shadow Transport Minister John Sharp allegedly claiming that the Minister for Transport, Laurie Brereton, has given no encouragement for the project, and that if Labor is re-elected the project will not go ahead. Laurie Brereton's office responds that this is untrue as Department of Transport officers have been working on the Speedrail project for the past couple of years.

'Speedrail project still on track says government', Daily Commercial News, 18 January 1996.

18 January 1996

The ALP Government commits funds to a feasibility study

The Federal Government announces that it will contribute $50000 to a feasibility study for the Sydney-Canberra rail link, matching funds provided by the ACT and NSW Governments. This cost is to be jointly borne by the Department of Industry, Science and Technology (DIST) and the Department of Transport.

Senator Peter Cook, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, News Release, 18 January 1996, 015/96.

June 1996

A report on transport development options for NSW, ACT and Victoria is released by the South East Australian Transport Study (SEATS) group. Both the Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Canberra high speed rail links are examined, and receive high scores for the potential benefits the schemes could provide. The schemes are recognised however as less desirable because of their high costs compared with the benefits.

South East Australian Transport Study. Strategic Transport Links for Regional and National Prosperity. Melbourne: SEATS, 1996.

15 July 1996

Transport Minister John Sharp supports the Canberra-Sydney proposal

Transport Minister John Sharp is reported to have said that while in 1972 50% of freight between Sydney and Melbourne had been via rail, in 1995 it was down to 22%. The development of the Speedrail option will enable rail transport to take back some of the freight that had been lost to road transport.

'Fast rail link may overtake trucks: Sharp', Canberra Times, 16 July 1996.

September 1996

Confidential Government report condemns the proposal

A Secretariat appointed by the Commonwealth, NSW and ACT Governments complete a report which is not publicly released. Newspapers claim that the report suggests that the project would not be viable without a Government subsidy of more than $1.5 billion. This cost would comprise $1.3 billion for construction and $406 million over five to six years to subsidise operating costs.

'Fast train link could need $1.5bn subsidy', Australian, 27 September, 1996.

September 1996

Speedrail consortium commits additional funds to examine the feasibility of the proposal

NSW Premier, Bob Carr is reported to have announced that a preliminary study had shown that the Speedrail option between Canberra-Sydney would cost at least $1 billion in public funds to establish, and an annual injection of $400 million to operate. Speedrail subsequently announces that it wants to invest $7 million in a study to determine the viability of the project. Richard Hadley, the Commercial Director of Speedrails' backer, GEC-Alsthom, says that the project would create 13500 construction jobs for three years and would see $110 million in payroll tax going to the NSW Government.

'Europeans want to invest in fast-train study to highlight viability', Canberra Times, 28 September 1996.

September 1996

NSW accused of procrastination

It is reported that Transport Minister, John Sharp, accuses NSW of procrastination on the finalisation of details. NSW strongly disagrees and claims that delays have been related to NSW guidelines requiring open tender processes. The NSW Government considers referring assessment of the project to COAG.

'Talks on fast train get the flag', Australian Financial Review, 9 September 1996.

4 September 1996

ACT fears that NSW will introduce tilt trains

ACT Deputy Chief Minister, Tony de Domenico, is reported to have said that NSW rail officials are determined to introduce outdated tilt train technology.

'NSW rail delaying fast train: De Dominico', Canberra Times, 5 September 1996.

10 September 1996

Applications for infrastructure bonds close unexpectedly

Federal Transport Minister says that the Commonwealth would make infrastructure bonds available to help pay for the Canberra-Sydney line. Hours after this announcement, Treasurer Peter Costello says that no more applications for infrastructure bond tax concessions would be accepted for the rest of the financial year because of an overwhelming number of new applications being received. It is understood that the Speedrail consortium had applied for infrastructure bonds prior to the Treasurer's announcement, however, other groups wishing to bid for the right to build the link had missed out.

'NSW and Feds back fast train', Canberra Times, 11 September 1996. (Attachment 18)

Peter Costello, MP. Infrastructure borrowings taxation concession. Press Release, 14 Feb 1997.

10 September 1996

ACT urges support of non- tilt train technology

The ACT Assembly's Economic Development and Tourism Committee (EDTC), in conjunction with the Planning and Environment Committee, considers the available technologies for the Canberra-Sydney rail link. ACT Liberal MLA Trevor Kaine, Chair of the EDTC, is reported to have said that either the Magnetic Levitation or the Speedrail options should be chosen ahead of the tilt trains.

'Support grows on new option for fast train', Canberra Times, 12 September 1996.

11 September 1996

NSW premier gives conditional support to the proposal

It is reported that NSW Premier, Bob Carr announces NSW support for the Sydney-Canberra line project provided it meets three basic tests-there must be no net cost to NSW taxpayers, studies must show it is viable and the private sector must show it can successfully manage the project.

'No cost fives train a rails run: Carr', Financial Review, 11 September 1996.

14 September 1996

Victorian Premier supports pioneering Canberra-Sydney line

It is reported that Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett urges support for the Sydney-Canberra rail line as the first stage in the development of an Sydney-Melbourne route. In discussions with Treasurer Peter Costello, Jeff Kennett supports the use of infrastructure bonds to attract private sector investment.

'Kennett to Feds: back fast train', Canberra Times, 14 September 1996.

26 September 1996

Major financial commitment made by Speedrail backer

GEC Alsthom, the main backer of the Speedrail consortium is reported to pledge to invest $200 million in the project.

'High speed rail pledge', Age, 26 September 1996.

October 1996

Press reports indicate that the French Government has deferred some of its high speed rail development proposals for technical and financial reasons. New plans based on improved technology are to be drawn up. Some funds earmarked for rail expansion may be used to complete motorways.

'Plans for fast train given the bullet', Sydney Morning Herald, 5 October 1996.

4 December 1996

Joint ACT, NSW, Commonwealth investigation announced

Prime Minister announces a joint Commonwealth-NSW-ACT venture to investigate options for a high speed train service. Any project must be on the basis of no net cost to the taxpayer. Constitutional powers may be used to acquire land compulsorily along the route.

 

March 1997

VHST Project Control Group established

A Canberra based businessman, Jim Service is appointed to head the Very High Speed Train (VHST) Project Control Group that will assess proposals for the development of the Sydney-Canberra rail link from an ACT Government perspective.

'Service heads study on train', Canberra Times, 9 March 1997.

4 March 1997

ACT confirms its involvement in investigation

It is reported that Commonwealth-NSW-ACT venture is confirmed by ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell.

'Green light for fast train', Canberra Times, 4 March 1997.

17 April 1997

Companies lodge their interest in the Canberra-Sydney route

Closing date for the lodgement for the Registrations of Interest in the Sydney-Canberra route.

 

18 April 1997

Speedrail consortium attracts additional partners

The Commonwealth Bank and Qantas are reported to have joined the Speedrail bid for the Sydney-Canberra route. Members of the Speedrail Group also include GEC Alsthom, Leighton Contractors, French National Railways - SNCF, Boulderstone Hornibrook, and Speedrail Pty Ltd.

'Bank joins Qantas in speed-rail consortium', Canberra Times, 18 April 1997.

May 1997

ACT Government commences an inquiry into the proposal

The ACT Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Economic Development and Tourism commences an inquiry on the impact of a very high speed train on Canberra's future economic development. In particular, the Committee is to examine:

  • the consequences for employment growth in the short, medium and long term
  • The impact of the development on Canberra's private and public sectors
  • The impact on Canberra's tourism sector
  • The impact on other transport modes and freight movements in and out of Canberra
  • any other related matters.
 

May 1997

Sir Peter Abeles again becomes publicly involved in high speed trains

The press reports that Sir Peter Abeles is appointed chairman of Thyssen Transrapid Australia Pty Ltd, a company bidding for the tender to construct and operate the Canberra-Sydney rail link using revolutionary magnetic levitation technology.

'Abeles to head Maglev bid for Canberra route', Canberra Times, 8 May 1997.

12-13 June 1997

High Speed Train conference

A Conference is held in Canberra about high speed trains. As the Keynote speaker at the Conference, Mark Vaile, MP, on behalf of the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, outlines the Government's plan for rail transport. In response to the Brew Report in 1996, the Government decides to divest itself of any direct involvement in the operating of trains, but to provide the environment in which private train operators will be encouraged to do so. Accordingly the Government would support the Very Fast Train proposal between Canberra and Sydney, as long as it involved no net cost to the taxpayer. Private sector investments in infrastructure would be facilitated through the tax system.

Mr Vaile concludes that the Canberra-Sydney very high speed rail link 'to be at the leading edge of what the Commonwealth considers should be the direction of transport reform'

High speed trains: the short/medium range alternative to air travel for the 21st century: conference proceedings, 12-13 June 1997, Australia, Rydges Lakeside, Canberra, 1997.

Folio 385.370994 F HIG

July 1997

Short list released

Six consortiums short-listed to build the Sydney-Canberra rail link:

  • Capital Rail
  • Inter-Capital Express
  • Goninan Consortium
  • Speedrail Group
  • Talgo/Rail Services Australia
  • Thyssen Transrapid
 

August 1997

Commonwealth again accuses NSW of procrastination

Prime Minister John Howard is reported to have claimed that the NSW Government is delaying planning for the VFT. The NSW Government claims that the Commonwealth had not taken the project seriously until this time.

'Carr rejects claim NSW stalling on fast train link', Canberra Times, 29 August 1997.

23 August 1997

Federal Government major financial commitment to conventional rail services

It is reported that the Howard Government promises $100 million from the Federation Fund for the conventional Alice Springs to Darwin railway. Private sector interests are to build, own and operate the line, and there will be no ongoing Commonwealth support.

'Darwin rail link', Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 1997.

September 1997

Work on a Sydney-Melbourne proposal commences

After a meeting in Brussels, Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer is reported to revive the idea of a Sydney-Melbourne VFT line. The project is backed by the Committee For Melbourne (CFM) which is chaired by businessman Jack Smorgon. A Melbourne Firm, Global Agenda, is hired by the CFM in November 1997 to do preliminary work on the proposal.

'New plan to fast-track fast train', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 Feb 1998.

10 October 1997

The Commonwealth commits to using its land acquisition powers to assist the project

After a meeting about the VFT project with NSW Premier Bob Carr and ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell, Prime Minister John Howard says that the Commonwealth would make its powers of compulsory land acquisition available for the VFT between Sydney and Canberra. This would be conditional on the successful tenderer indemnifying the Commonwealth for all costs.

The Hon. John Howard, MP. Press Release, 10 October 1997.

December 1997

NSW continues to investigate the use of tilt trains

The NSW Government's Public Works Committee, Chaired by Paul Crittenden, investigates the introduction of tilt trains in NSW on inter-urban corridors such as Sydney - Newcastle. The Canberra - Sydney route is not covered by this study because of the alternative proposals being reviewed by the tri-government investigation.

Sunday Telegraph, December 14, 1997.

December 1997

Final tender process commences

Four international consortia join the final tender process for the Canberra-Sydney high speed rail link:

  • Capital Rail. Backed by ASEA Brown Boveri, ABB Daimler- Benz Transportation (Adtrans), SwedeRail, BT Corporate Finance, Ove Arup and Partners and TMG International. Proposed journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes. Cost: $1.2 billion
  • Inter-Capital Express. Backed by AIDC Australia, GHD Transmark, Lend Lease Capital Services, Siemens and TNT Transit Systems. Proposed journey time and cost as above.
  • Speedrail Group. Backed by GEC Alsthorn, Leighton Contractors, French National Railways, Commonwealth Bank, Qantas, Balderstone Hornibrook and Speedrail. Journey to take 1 hour, 20 minutes. Cost: $2-2.6 billion. This proposal relies on an arrangement where the NSW Government would borrow $100 million to acquire land for the rail corridor. The land would then be leased back to Speedrail at a profit. The NSW Government opposes this plan given that its support has always relied on any proposals being based on no government subsidies.
  • Thyssen Transrapid. Comprising Thyssen Industrie AG, Adtrans and Siemens. Journey to take 60 minutes via Wollongong, with two stops. Using revolutionary technology involving magnetic levitation, a public cost estimate has not been given. Cost is likely to be at least $4 billion. The feasibility of this system is questioned, given that the proponents claim that the system can be built at twice the speed and half the cost of a similar system in Germany. Manfred Wackers, a member of Transrapid International's management board said in June 1997 that the Canberra-Sydney route would not be viable using their technology unless Wollongong is included in the route because the inclusion of Wollongong would double the number of passengers available.

The Hon Alex Somley, MP. Media Release, 16 December 1997 (S15/97).

'High-speed rail link with ACT gets strong backing', Canberra Times, 13 June 1997.

'Four still in speed-train', Canberra Times, 16 December 1997.

'No state cash for fast train', Australian, 11 September 1996.

'Putting the right fast train on track', Canberra Times 14 September 1996.

February 1998

Proposal for Sydney- Melbourne VFT line

Federal Transport Minister Mark Vaile meets with the Committee of Melbourne to discuss plans for a Sydney-Melbourne VFT. Minister Vaile is reported to say that the Commonwealth's role is that of a facilitator to private sector projects. The Committee of Melbourne commissions a feasibility study of the project.

'Minister in VFT talks', Daily Commercial News, 13 February 1998.

February 1998

Proposal for Tilt trains in NSW

It is reported that the NSW Rail Access corporation presented State Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Works with a proposal to cut travel times between Sydney and Newcastle by 30% by introducing tilt trains and other improvements to infrastructure.

'Rail proposal could slash travel time to Newcastle', Sydney Morning Herald, 11 February 1998.

19 February 1998

Plans for Canberra Airport which include a high speed train terminal released

Capital Airport Group lodges its bid to buy the Canberra Airport. The group is reported to have plans to develop the airport as a regional transport hub that will include a terminal for the Very High Speed Train. Chief Minister Kate Carnel and Deputy Labor leader Andrew Whitecross support the proposal.

'Airport bid has strong bipartisan support', Canberra Times, 20 February 1998.

March 1998

A significant project to introduce tilt trains in Britain is announced. 132 tilt trains are acquired by Virgin Rail to run on West Coast and Cross Country services.

'Ambitious upgrade plan tilts towards success', Australian Financial Times, 4 March 1998.

16 March 1998

Deadline for final tenders

Tenders for the Canberra-Sydney high speed rail link to be submitted.

 

15 June 1998

Deadline for Government decision on successful tenderer

Deadline for the Federal, NSW and ACT Governments to choose the successful bidder for the High Speed Rail Link.

Somlyay, MP., The Hon. Alex, Minister for Regional Development, Territories, and Local Government. 'Territories Minister Positive About Final Tender Process for Canberra-Sydney High Speed Rail Link', Media Release, S15/97, 16 December 1997. (Attachment 24)

Attachments

Attachment 1

Quiddington, Peter, '$19m study to put VFT on track', The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 1988.

Attachment 2

'VFT update', News Release. VFT, 23 March 1989.

Attachment 3

Brown, MP, The Hon. Bob, Minister for Land Transport and Shipping Support, 'Very Fast Train', Media Release. 154/89, 14 August 1989.

Attachment 4

Burton, Tom, 'Hawke gives the VFT a push', Sydney Morning Herald, 19 August 1989.

Attachment 5

Bruer, Mark, 'New doubts raised on the Very Fast Train', The Age, 30 May, 1990.

Attachment 6

Prime Minister (R. J. Hawke), Joint Statement by the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victorian and Australian Capital Territory Governments and the VFT Joint Venture on processes for Government coordination and facilitation of the Very Fast Train proposal. 10 December 1990.

Attachment 7

Brown, MP, The Hon. Bob, Minister for Land Transport, 'Very Fast Train proposal', Media Release 105/91, 26 March 1991.

Attachment 8

Clayton Utz. VFT Benefit Transfer: A proposal to allow companies involved in delayed income projects to distribute accruing tax losses to shareholders. VFT Joint Venture, Canberra, June 1991.

Attachment 9

Kerin, MP. The Hon. John, 'Very Fast Train project', Press Release, no. 69, 6 August 1991.

Attachment 10

VFT. 'Government announcement on VFT tax', News Release, 6 August 1991.

Attachment 11

'Right decision on the VFT', Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August, 1991.

Attachment 12

'A lack of vision has destroyed the VFT', The Canberra Times, 19 August, 1991.

Attachment 13

Hawker, MP, David, Shadow Minister for Land Transport. Coalition demands full explanation on VFT. Media Release, 7 August, 1991.

Attachment 14

Sibley, David. CT, NSW call for tilt-train proposals', The Canberra Times, 9 October 1992.

Attachment 15

Canberra expresses a capital idea', Sydney Morning Herald, 16 October 1993.

Attachment 16

Speedrail 'Speedrail feasibility study to begin', Media Release, 3 June 1994.

Attachment 17

Tobin, Bruce, 'Victoria revives fast train proposal', The Age, 9 November 1994.

Attachment 18

Nicholson, Brendan, Bachelard, Michael, and Davis, Ian, 'NSW and Feds back fast train', The Canberra Times, 11 September, 1996.

Attachment 19

Speedrail, Media Statement, December 4, 1996.

Attachment 20

Nicholson, Brendan, 'Speed train study backed', The Canberra Times, 5 December 1996.

Attachment 21

The Institution of Engineers, Australia, 'Fast train consortiums to put their cases', News Release, Friday 14 March, 1997.

Attachment 22

Speedrail, 'Speedrail group lodges Sydney-Canberra fast rail submission', Media Release, 17 April 1997.

Attachment 23

Nicholson, Brendan, 'Submissions soon from tenders for Sydney-Canberra fast train', The Canberra Times, 11 September 1997.

Attachment 24

Somlyay, MP., The Hon. Alex, 'Territories minister positive about final tender process for Canberra-Sydney high speed rail link', Media Release, 16 December 1997.

Attachment 25

Wainright, Robert, 'New bid to revive fast train project', The Age, 9 February, 1998.

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