High-speed rail would deliver $48b in benefits: report

PEOPLE living in northern New South Wales would enjoy some of the key benefits from a high-speed railway linking major cities on the east coast.

A study commissioned by Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt and authored by former Deloitte partner Naomi Edwards shows the rail link would deliver more than $48 billion in benefits over a 30-year period.

These savings would come in the form of reduced car trips ($31 billion); reduced traffic congestion ($11 billion); fewer road accidents ($4 billion), and; reduced greenhouse gas emissions and pollution ($2.64 billion).

The rail link would also have "unquantified benefits", including a number of positives for regional Australia.

These benefits, described as "regional rebalancing", would come in the form of increased work options, boosting tourism and better access to city health and welfare services, the study found.

It would also make living in the regions, where the cost of living is significantly cheaper, a realistic option for people who want to continue their careers in the cities.

While the research did not focus specifically on northern NSW, Ms Edwards' case study of the Melbourne to Canberra route shows what impact the project would have on regional areas.

Ms Edwards' work projects significant gains for the towns of Albury, Wodonga and Shepparton.

The route recommendations contained in the Federal Government's phase one report, released last year, were used for the research.

While just one short list corridor is being considered for the Melbourne to Canberra route, there are five short-listed options for the routes between Newcastle and Brisbane.

Regardless of the selected route there would likely be stations on the Gold Coast, Far North Coast, Northern Rivers and Mid-North Coast.

The rail link, which is projected to cost anywhere between $60 billion and $108 billion depending on the route, would bring some parts of northern NSW to well within an hour of Brisbane and less than three hours from Sydney.

Brisbane to Sydney would become a three-hour trip (it currently takes about 14 hours), with a further three hours to Melbourne.

The HSR phase two report is due to be released before the end of the year.

"High speed rail's time has come. The government now needs to make a clear financial commitment to taking the next steps towards putting high-speed rail in place," Mr Bandt said.

>>See the Greens' report into High Speed Rail's benefits

>>See the High Speed Rail phase one report


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