Baillieu pushes high-speed rail links
A BAILLIEU government would establish a high-speed rail "advocacy unit" to push for the construction of high-speed rail between Melbourne and Sydney, and other capital cities, if it wins Saturday's election.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said high-speed rail's potential to transform Australian capital cities had been ignored by Premier John Brumby. He pledged to spend $4 million in his first term of government setting up the high-speed rail unit.
Its job would be to investigate and advocate for high-speed rail links between Melbourne and other capital cities. Mr Baillieu said high-speed rail had been proved a success in Asia and across Europe, but had stalled in Australia. "With more than nine million residents and rapid growth, it's clear that the Melbourne to Sydney corridor can support a high-speed rail link that joins all major south-east Australian population centres, including Geelong," Mr Baillieu said. Under the plan, Victoria would take the lead in ensuring that Melbourne hosted Australia's first high-speed trains, Mr Baillieu said.
There have been several failed attempts at establishing a Melbourne-to-Sydney fast-rail project. The last was in 2000, when the Howard government baulked at the $4.5 billion price tag of the Sydney-to-Canberra section of the rail line.
With no train capable of speeds over 250 km/h, Australia lags behind the world. The International Union of Railways says there is over 1700 high-speed trains on dozens of different routes, mostly in Europe and Asia. The Melbourne-to-Sydney air corridor is the world's third busiest, with 121 daily flights. The rail alternative is a half-day journey with a top speed of 130 km/h.
Coalition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the high-speed rail advocacy unit would be set up in addition to its commitment to build a rail link to Avalon Airport, and plans for rail links to Melbourne Airport and Doncaster in its first term.
The $4 million cost of establishing the high-speed rail unit is on top of the $10 million to be spent establishing the Coalition's proposed public transport authority.