Private group CLARA have received the formal support from local governments for their plan for a high-speed rail network between Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne.
The Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) group submitted a proposal to the federal government earlier this year for the creation of five sustainable "SMART" cities -- two inland in Victoria and a further three in NSW -- connected by high-speed rail that would make possible a two-hour trip between Sydney and Melbourne.
With trains travelling at speeds of up to 430km/hr, the journey between Canberra and Sydney could take just 48 minutes. The three “cities” between the capitals would cost an expected $75 billion.
The two cities planned along the Melbourne and Greater Shepparton route would cost around $51 billion.
CLARA received written support from two councils along the Melbourne to the Greater Shepparton Region corridor (Greater Shepparton Council and Strathbogie Shire Council), and three councils along the Sydney to Canberra corridor (Goulburn Mulwaree Shire Council, Yass Valley Shire Council and Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council).
[Related reading: High Speed Sydney-Melbourne Rail Bid on its Way to the Top]Last month the federal government released its Faster Rail Initiative Prospectus, seeking submissions for the co-funding of up to three business cases for faster rail initiatives nationally.
The Government announced $20 million would be allocated to easing the pressure off capital cities, boosting regional economies, and opening up land for more housing," CLARA chief executive Nick Cleary said.
"The proposal and the federal government’s Faster Rail Initiative Prospectus provide an exciting opportunity for collaborative national leadership.""CLARA is excited to have the support of these relevant councils, but to succeed CLARA is seeking support from all levels of government, working together to progress proposals like outs that can rebalance the Australian settlement," he said.
The plan proposes running a rail line from Melbourne to Shepparton and then a 30-year process in which separate lines will be added to the initial Melbourne-Shepparton track, from Canberra, Goulburn and finally completing in Sydney.
By the 2040s, CLARA aimed to have a Sydney to Melbourne rail line which, using Japanese Maglev technology, would provide a trip just under two hours between the two cities.
Almost 20,000 hectares has already been secured for new development sites along the rail corridor prior to submitting the bid.
Cleary said CLARA will continue to engage with local communities and governments at all levels to progress the plan.