The Australian Government has selected three business case proposals for faster rail that are set to be developed as part of the government’s A$20m ($16m) Faster Rail Prospectus.
The proposals were selected through a competitive selection process, with an aim to significantly upgrade the efficiency of rail links between Australia’s key regional centres and major cities.
They include the New South Wales government’s proposal for Sydney to Newcastle, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia’s (CLARA) proposal for Melbourne to Greater Shepparton, and the proposal by North Coast Connect consortium for Brisbane and the Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast regions.
The selected business cases are scheduled to be completed over the next 12 months and will receive funding from both the government and project proponents.
If approved, the proposals are expected to reduce journey times on the selected corridors, as well as offer better options for people who want to have the lifestyle of a regional centre but access to the job opportunities of a big city.
In the Faster Rail Prospectus, the Australian Government has expressed its intention of considering both ‘evolutionary’ and ‘revolutionary’ proposals.
One of the selected proposals seeks to modernise the existing track, while another proposes entirely new track, and the third includes a combination of both.
Upon completion of the business case for each proposal, they will be moved towards an independent assessment, which will be carried out by Infrastructure Australia.
The Faster Rail Prospectus project is a result of a commitment made by the Australian Government in the 2017 Budget.
Under the commitment, the government seeks to investigate improvements to the rail connections between cities and surrounding regional areas, as well as finance the development of up to three faster rail business cases.