NRMA president Wendy Machin yesterday promised to help the campaign for a high-speed rail route — because it would take cars off the road and make regional roads safer.
Ms Machin, whose organisation represents almost 2.5 million members, confessed she had been “a little bit reluctant” to attend the conference.
But she said other speakers had made a compelling case and the NRMA would help the campaign.
Ms Machin, a former NSW assistant minister for roads and transport, said many regional roads were dangerous and if a high-speed route was established, fewer cars would be on those roads.
She conceded Australia was behind the rest of the world on fast trains.
The NRMA was committed to fighting for better roads, notably the Pacific Highway, and she welcomed the fact that the Hume Highway duplication was now almost complete.
She said community support was vital to the the high-speed rail campaign as it would put pressure on governments for funding.
Siemens’ spokesman on high-speed rail, Matt McInnes, showed case studies of systems in China, Spain and Britain, and compared the 620-kilometre Barcelona-Madrid route to the Melbourne-Sydney route — it took only two hours and 43 minutes between the capitals and the population base was similar.