THE Australasian Railway Association has begun a study of the economic benefits of high-speed rail for regional areas such as Albury- Wodonga.
It follows the federal government’s announcement it would proceed with the second phase of its investigation into the viability of the train between Brisbane and Melbourne.
Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, a long-time supporter of high-speed rail, said: “Now is the time to keep moving forward on high-speed rail in Australia, exactly when there is a slowing in the northern hemisphere with high-speed rail projects.
“While much of any big rail infrastructure project will be built in Australia, some of the rolling stock and component equipment will have an international dimension and pricing will be competitive over the next few years of northern hemisphere downturn.”
Association chief executive Brian Nye said his study would look at the potential gains for centres such as Albury-Wodonga, Goulburn and Wagga.
“People are worried about the state and future of our regional centres and, with our research, we hope to discover how a project like this might bring economic benefits,” Mr Nye said.
He said he hoped the study would be complete by March, soon after Federal Parliament resumes for a year in which major infrastructure projects are slated for debate.
Last week, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese confirmed that the government would press on with its report on fast rail to “determine with greater precision the alignment of the track and station locations, improve the accuracy of the costs associated with building and operating the network, re-evaluate patronage projections, and recommend financing options”.
The first phase of the study found a line between Brisbane and Melbourne, via Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Albury-Wodonga would cost between $61 billion and $108 billion for a track that would allow for speeds of 350km/h.