THE Gillard Government is pressing ahead with its plans for a high speed rail network on the East Coast.

The second and final stage of the government's landmark study into high speed rail is underway.

Travelling at 400km/h, the fast train would make a trip between Sydney and Gold Coast possible in just three hours, yet the cost of the network is tipped to cost $100 billion.  

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the latest development comes after the government retained AECOM, the lead author of the interim report.

"After a competitive tendering process, this leading global consultancy now has the opportunity to complete the work it started almost a year ago - and to do so it has assembled a consortium which brings together a broad range of expertise: KPMG, SKM, ACIL Tasman, Booz & Co, Hyder and Grimshaw Architects," Mr Albanese said.

Over the next 12 months, the work done in stage one and the findings contained in the interim report will be further tested and refined, he said.

"AECOM and its partners will determine with greater precision the alignment of the track and station locations, improve the accuracy of the costs associated with building and operating the network, re-evaluate patronage projections, and recommend financing options along with possible governance arrangements,"

Since its release in early August, more than 316,000 copies of the interim report have been downloaded from my Department's website - an indication of widespread community interest in this technology.

"Indeed High Speed Rail could be a game-changer, with the potential to better integrate our regional and metropolitan communities, ease congestion on our roads and at our airports as well as provide a new foundation for a low carbon, high productivity economy.

"However, this kind of monumental endeavour must take place in a deliberate, thoughtful manner. 

"The work we're undertaking is all about planning for Australia's future, not just for the next five years but for the next five decades," he said.

Copies of the interim report and the terms of reference for the study can be downloaded from: www.infrastructure.gov.au/rail/trains/high_speed.


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