Sunday, October 31, 2010

High speed rail? Not quite a cost-benefit analysis.

That would be too embarrassing

Media Statement


The Gillard Labor Government has commissioned an open, extensive feasibility study to determine the economic benefits and financial viability of a new multi-billion dollar high speed rail network connecting the cities along Australia’s east coast.

As a first step, I am today releasing the Term of Reference which will guide this $20 million feasibility study – see attachment.

In the coming weeks my Department will call for tenders to undertake specialist tasks such geotechnical investigations as well as financial and economic modelling.

The feasibility study will build on previous work by determining the optimum alignment of a high speed rail network after taking into account the needs of potential users as well as possible engineering, planning and environmental challenges.

As well as determining the route alignment, the feasibility study will provide information which will help guide future public and private investment decisions, including likely demand and an estimated construction cost.

Given the high level of interest in the study, my Department will also establish a formal reference group to make sure the views of organisations such as the Australasian Railways Association and the CRC for Rail Innovation as well as state and territory authorities are taken into account.

The Gillard Labor Government has put high speed rail back on the national agenda.

As well as helping to build a more productive, prosperous and sustainable Australia, high speed rail has the potential to significantly cut travel times for commuters travelling between our capital cities like Sydney and regional centres such as Newcastle and Gosford.

The study will conducted in two stages with the first to be completed by July 2011 and second by the middle of 2012.

As well as planning for the future, the Gillard Labor Government is investing in Australia’s existing rail infrastructure. Indeed we’ve already lifted spending on rail tenfold, made the first significant Federal investment in urban passenger rail and begun rebuilding more than a third of the interstate rail freight network.

The release of the Terms of Reference delivers on one of Labor’s key 2010 election commitments as well as an undertaking in the agreement with The Greens.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Terms of reference

A strategic study will be undertaken on the implementation of a high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia.

The study will focus on identifying possible routes, corridor preservation and station options, including city-centre, city-periphery and airport stations. This will provide a basis for route development, indicative transit times and high-level construction costs.

As part of the core network element at the centre of the east coast corridor, the Newcastle–Sydney ‘spine’ will be a central aspect of this work. Options for links northwards to Brisbane and southwards to Canberra and Melbourne will also be considered.

Specifically the study will:

· Identify undeveloped land corridors and/or existing corridors that could be considered for a high speed railway, and preservation strategies;

· Identify the main design decisions and requirements to build and operate a viable high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia;

· Present route and station options, including indicative construction costs and interaction with other transport modes;

· Provide costs estimates of undertaking the next stages of work, such as detailed route alignment identification and corridor resumptions;

· Identify potential financing and business operating models for the construction and operation of a high speed railway;

· Provide advice and options on relevant construction, engineering, financial and environmental considerations.

The study will be managed by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. It will draw on expertise from the public and private sectors, as well as international experience, growth forecasts and other contemporary data. Stakeholders will be consulted and contribute views through a formal reference group, which will include representatives from relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies and other key stakeholder groups.

The high speed rail implementation study will by July 2011:

· Identify the requirements for implementation of a viable HSR network on the east coast;
· Identify strategic route and station options, including high-level costing.

This initial phase will provide a basis for consultation and inform the specific direction of a second phase, including consideration of the specific corridors, routes and associated issues to be targeted for more detailed examination.

Further work from July 2011 will include:

· Detailed corridor alignment identification;

· Identification of preliminary geotechnical issues;

· Development of comprehensive robust cost estimates for preferred options;

· Further investigation of investment and (public and private) financing options;
· Detailed patronage and revenue forecasts;

· Consideration of preferred options in relation to other modes (for example, airport capacity implications resulting from diversion of air traffic to train).

This final work and report will take approximately 12 months to complete and inform the Australian Government and state and territory governments’ consideration of next steps for high speed rail in Australia.

Related Posts

. Questions for the NBN cheer-squad

. Cost-benefit analysis: Samuel versus Treasury

. We might get a National Broadband Network AND a cost benefit study