: Kevin Rudd promises $52m for a high-speed railway on Australia
's East Coast
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised $52 million to kickstart a railway system through Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne, and create a new High Speed Rail Authority under a re-elected Labour government.
The massive infrastructure project offers a convenient alternative to interstate commute on the East Coast by aiming to cut down the current travel time of 11 hours to less than three hours. The system will also reach speeds of up to 350kph and produce lower carbon emissions per passenger than the average road trip by car.
The prime minister's pledge is in support of a proposal made by the High Speed Rail Advisory Group, which estimates the entire cost at $114 billion and targets completion by 2035. Once fully operational, the railway will span a land corridor of 1,748km and service over 80 million passengers yearly by 2065.
The rail authority will finalise the location of stations through consultations with the Victorian, New South Wales, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory governments.
A more in-depth look into the capital cost estimates, time frame, and impact on business will also be conducted with the help of Infrastructure Australia.
Major construction is set to begin by 2022, undertaken in different stages. The move will create 10,000 jobs in the process, according to Treasurer Chris Bowen.
The infrastructure project aims to ease the pressure brought on by Australia's growing population. Traffic congestion is predicted to have an economic cost of $20 billion by 2020.
While the project presents economic benefits in the long run, the promise of funding also opens up an opportunity for Rudd to bolster his ratings ahead of the election.
Rudd expressed support for the development of a more efficient transportation system by setting it against the opposition's proposal for what the prime minister deems an "unaffordable, unfair" paid parental leave scheme.
To contact the editor, e-mail: