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Take-outs from our mini-conference

Last week we helped the Australian High Speed Association (AuHSR) hold its inaugral mini-conference with the British expert, Andrew McNaughton, as the key speaker. Other speakers were Graham Nelmes from the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA), Garry Glazebrook (Fastrack) and John Alexander (AuHSR).

John Alexander (AuHSR), Graham Nelmes (HRSA), Garry and Andrew McNaughton then participated in a very lively panel session, followed by closing remarks by Geoff Brunsdon (Chairman QIC).


Key points from Andrew McNaughton

  • Very long distance services are low volume. Large flows tend to be between cities which are 1-2 hours apart, with fast regional services using the spare route capacity

  • Transport benefits alone do not justify the high cost of HSR construction. The regional economic benefits for Kent were used to justify HS1 and have paid back the full capital cost in 10 years

  • HSR is for everyone. Commuter and business travellers account for little over 25% of travellers. Most people use it to make connections they couldn't have otherwise done.

  • A "Whole of Government" approach is needed to unlock the benefits - mobility, economic, settlement, industry development, housing, skills & learning, health, culture, environmental.

  • Station location is key to drive city growth

  • Stakeholder consultation must be continuous and political consensus is essential

  • The strategy is to build out of capital cities in manageable stages that deliver long-term benefits that eventually connect into a national network

Key points from Graham Nelmes

The focus is on the Sydney-Newcastle business case, which will examine key options including:

  • Station options including in Newcastle and in Sydney

  • Opportunities to connect with Western Sydney including Parramatta – one of the fastest growing LGAs in Australia

  • Connectivity with transport networks such as light rail and Sydney Metro

  • Housing and place-making opportunities

  • Local manufacturing and job creation

  • Customer offering including two-tiered services and dynamic pricing

At the same time, a Product Definition Report for HSR in the Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne corridor will be produced by refining and updating the 2013 study

Key points from Garry Glazebrook

Garry explored the implications for Sydney-Newcastle HSR including:

  • The need to integrate "fast" and "high-speed' rail and develop a solution for Australia conditions

  • Our proposed alignment through Sydney and the Central Coast

  • Integrating with the existing conventional line to avoid running HSR lines through regional cities or locating HSR stations outside them

  • Our proposed staging of line construction and the introduction of new services

(NOTE: Garry's full presentation can be found here)


John Alexander gave a summary of the potential for value capture mechanisms to fund the capital cost of HSR in Australia based on the findings from the three federal parliament committees he chaired.


Geoff Brunsdon reinforced the view that investment in HSR can:

  • unlock significant socio-economic value in Australia’s regions,

  • improve location choice and housing affordability by levelling settlement patterns more evenly between mega-cities and regions,

  • contribute to net zero targets by enabling mode shift at a radical scale, and

  • produce more equitable outcomes across geographies.


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