Putting high speed rail on the agenda

26 June 2013

Council agreed at its meeting on Monday night to enter a Memorandum of Understanding with 18 councils along the proposed HSR route.

In agreeing to sign up to the Coalition, AlburyCity Mayor Cr Alice Glachan highlighted the benefits high speed rail would bring to the region.

“Albury Wodonga is strategically placed to be a major beneficiary of high speed rail. Combined, our cities are the 18th largest in Australia, with a population reaching approximately 90,000. By 2056 that number is expected to grow to 128,000,” she said. “With that projected growth, now is the time to be planning for the infrastructure our communities need to keep us moving forward.”

If the project came to fruition, an Albury resident could be in Melbourne’s CBD in 65 minutes and Sydney’s CBD in 95 minutes. It would generate an additional 1.15M visitors to Albury Wodonga, Shepparton and Wagga, boosting a tourist economy already worth more than $286M. 

But Mayor Glachan said the benefits of high speed rail to the region go far beyond tourism.

“With access to a high speed rail it becomes practical and economically viable for businesses to consider regional communities like ours as a new investment opportunity, or to consider relocating here entirely,” she said. “Our universities are put within reach of a new market of students who can study and eventually find employment here in Albury Wodonga.”

“High speed rail also makes it possible for a person to live in Albury Wodonga and commute to work in Melbourne, which would only be 65 minutes away.”

“Imagine the benefits to young families and first home buyers who would no longer have to struggle in Melbourne’s crowded market, and the way high speed rail can ease the pressure on metropolitan services and infrastructure.”

Meanwhile Council will make a submission to the Department of Infrastructure and Transport urging that any potential HSR station be located close to the Albury Wodonga CBDs or growth corridors. Initial plans put the Albury Wodonga HSR station about 25kms away from the Albury CBD which Mayor Glachan says is too far away from the existing city centres and associated public transport.

“We have concerns that such a proposal could create a satellite city where both councils could be required to invest in significant additional and possibly duplicate services and infrastructure to support the HSR station.”

“Overseas modelling indicates that HSR stations are a hub for development and growth - we want to bring that as close to our CBDs as possible.”

- Australia is the only continent other than Antarctica not to have a high speed rail network.

- Initial modelling indicates that 7.6 million additional trips will be made to and from regional areas via a high speed rail. These are trips that would otherwise not have occurred. Of these, 1.15 million are new trips to Wagga, Albury Wodonga and Shepparton.

- Overall, 4 million trips would be made to regional Victoria and southern New South Wales alone.

- The rail corridor between Melbourne and Canberra has a catchment of 460,000 people, offering new opportunities for regional communities to attract and retain skilled staff.

- It is predicted that approximately eight million passengers could travel on a HSR network between Sydney and Melbourne in 2036.

- Patronage demand forecasts suggest that by 2036, 54 million people may use an HSR network each year.