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Labor promises $1 BILLION for 3-hour east coast fast rail link

Australia's east coast will get a fast rail link if Labor wins the federal election. <i>(Source: Getty)</i>
Australia's east coast will get a fast rail link if Labor wins the federal election. (Source: Getty)

Another promise has been made to build that high speed rail link everyone living on Australia’s east coast has been waiting for.

If it wins the upcoming federal election, Labor has pledged $1 billion to snapping up land between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane to build a bullet train link.

It means passengers could soon be travelling between Sydney to Brisbane and Melbourne in as little as three hours per leg at speeds reaching 350km/h, according to the shadow minister for infrastructure and transport Anthony Albanese.

Nearby cities will also benefit from the link as well, said Albanese.

“The project will also be an economic game-changer for communities along its path, including the Gold Coast, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga and Shepparton,” he said.

“It would bring these communities closer to capital cities, allowing for increased commuting while also strengthening the case for regional business investment.”

The case for a high-speed rail becomes even stronger as Australia gears up for further population growth.

The plan builds on a feasibility study for the rail link project that was completed by the former Labor government in 2013, Albanese said.

The study said the rail link project – which would run on a 1,748km route between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane – was not only viable but would provide more than $2 return in public benefit for each dollar invested.

Based on the study, an independent panel recommended a ‘High Speed Rail Authority’ to be set up with the responsibility of working on the project with state and territory governments, with Infrastructure Australia as well as with the private sector with expertise in building or operating high speed rail.

But the Coalition hasn’t acted on this independent recommendation, Albanese said.

“Over nearly six years of chaos, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has cut infrastructure investment and shown no vision when it comes to Australia’s future transport needs.

“By contrast, Labor has a developed a comprehensive plan to invest in the rail and roads our nation needs to meet its short-term needs while also boosting productivity and building capacity for the medium to long term.”

Land for the corridor should be acquired soon in order to protect it from developers, he added.

A familiar promise

Promises of building high speed rail links have been made all across the political spectrum, from Labor to Liberal to Clive Palmer’s United Party.

In December last year, the NSW Liberal Party announced $295 million would be invested in four fast rail links connecting Sydney to Newcastle, Canberra, Orange and Wollongong, the Newcastle Herald reported.

"This initial $295 million commitment should be seen as a down payment on our future investment,” said NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance in March.

"We are committed to getting the early work done, so that we can move ahead in delivering a truly revolutionary rail system to connect NSW."

In January, Clive Palmer caused a stir when he texted a third of Australian voters with election promises, including a promise of fast rail that could cut travel time of 300 kilometre distances to under an hour, The New Daily reported.

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