Fast train ‘to bring boom’

LIBERAL MP and former Davis Cup tennis player John Alexander yesterday predicted massive growth for Albury-Wodonga if a high-speed rail route went ahead.

Mr Alexander said that even the Whitlam dream of the 1970s of an Albury-Wodonga of 300,000 people could prove conservative.

“He would probably come back here and say that’s not enough,” he said.

Mr Alexander made the comment after telling the high-speed rail conference in Wodonga yesterday Sydney and Melbourne needed a high-speed rail link as a means of slowing their population growth.

“Bob Carr, when he was premier 15 years ago, said that Sydney was full,” he said.

The major cities were being strangled and regional cities — with ample land at much cheaper prices — have been dying and lack growth.”

High-speed rail could turn that around, facilitating billions of dollars of investment in the region.

Heavy congestion for road, rail and air travel to the capitals was hitting productivity and lifestyles.

“The cost (of operating high speed rail) would be relatively minor compared to the billions that would be invested,” he said.

Mr Alexander, who represents the North Sydney seat of Bennelong, said a second Sydney airport should be put on hold until the high speed rail issue was settled.

He argued that the cost of the Melbourne-Brisbane project — estimated to be between $61 billion and $108 billion — would be outweighed by benefits flowing from the wealth created in regional centres such as Albury-Wodonga and Goulburn.

The Central Japan Railway Company’s man in Sydney, Gen Okajima, said high-speed rail could revolutionise lifestyles in regional cities.

People could travel faster and more often to sports events, cultural events and the city shops.

Business people could leave the Border at 8am, spend several hours in Melbourne, have lunch and be back in their Albury-Wodonga office by 2.50pm.

Editorial — page 36

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