Brakes off for high speed rail

The Parliament has today passed the High Speed Rail Authority Bill 2022, an important first step in the Albanese Government's commitment to establish the High Speed Rail Authority that will guide the development of a high speed rail network in Australia.

A high-speed rail network along the east coast of Australia will be a transformational project that has the ability to touch the lives of all Australians, particularly our regions.

Now, after a delay of nearly ten years where nothing was done to progress high speed rail in Australia, that vision is becoming a reality.

The Authority will provide independent and impartial advice on the policy and standards of high speed rail; and plan, identify and secure corridors. The Authority will also oversee the construction and operation of the high-speed rail network, and coordinate with state and territory governments, industry, business and communities to enhance Australia's long-term rail investment.

The Authority will build on previous work, including the comprehensive study, commissioned under former Infrastructure Minister and now Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, that found high speed rail was not only viable, but would return over $2 for every $1 of investment.

A high-speed rail network could allow passengers to travel between major cities and significant regional cities at speeds exceeding 250 km/h.

The passage of the Bill delivers the Australian Government's election commitment to establish the Authority which will get to work on the $500 million down payment for the planning to secure corridors and commence early works for the Sydney to Newcastle section of the high-speed rail network.

This commitment will see work progress in this fast-growing region of the east coast.

While the Authority works closely with the New South Wales Government on this section, it will continue to advance plans for other sections of the high-speed rail network, which will eventually connect Brisbane to Melbourne, with stops in Canberra, Sydney and regional centres.

The Authority will be overseen by a Board which will include experts from the rail and infrastructure sectors.

Faster rail will continue to be advanced under the Authority, with the functions of the National Faster Rail Agency being undertaken within the Authority and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.

High speed rail will revolutionise interstate travel on the east coast, providing a fast alternative for people to move between cities and regional centres, promoting sustainable settlement patterns and creating broad economic benefits for regional centres.