PROPOSALS for improvements to train services between Sydney and Newcastle, upgrades to rail infrastructure between Brisbane and Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast, and high-speed rail between Melbourne and Shepparton have been selected to receive funding for business cases under the Australian's Government's $20 million Faster Rail Prospectus.
The Faster Rail Prospectus – which was released in September last year – forms part of the 'Connecting Capital Cities and Orbital Regional Centres' initiative that was announced in 2017–18 Budget in May.
The purpose of the initiative is to explore improvements to the rail connections between cities and surrounding regional areas, with $20 million in funding to support the development of business cases. The business cases for the three projects are expected to be delivered over the next twelve months, with the government's funding to be combined with contributions from the project proponents.
The Faster Rail prospectus called for both 'evolutionary' and 'revolutionary' proposals, and the three selected proposals are at different points along this spectrum, with one involving upgrades to existing track, another proposing entirely new track, and the third involving a mix of upgraded and new track.
The successful proposals in NSW, Queensland, and Victoria were selected following a competitive assessment process for their potential to substantially improve the efficiency of rail links between key regional centres and major cities.
The three proposals selected for business case development are:
- Sydney to Newcastle - NSW Government will explore improvements to the rail connections between Sydney and Newcastle that would facilitate faster passenger rail services. The business case will investigate works including reducing track curvature, deviations and realignments, removal of level crossings, junction rearrangement and better segregation of passenger and freight services.
- Brisbane and the regions of Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast - The North Coast Connect Consortium will explore upgrades to the rail connection between Brisbane and Nambour as well as a new rail spur to Maroochydore.
- Melbourne to Greater Shepparton - Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), a private consortium, will explore improvements to the rail connections between Melbourne to Greater Shepparton. The business case will investigate the development of two new sustainable SMART cities with connections to High Speed Rail along a new dedicated corridor.
More information is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities website at <https://infrastructure.gov.au/rail/trains/faster_rail/>.