PORT Macquarie and Taree have been listed as possible stops for an east coast high-speed rail (HSR) network in a federal government study released today.
The two Mid-North Coast towns feature on a list of coastal stops mentioned in the second phase of a study of a Brisbane-to-Melbourne fast rail network, which has been slated to cost $114 billion.
If all goes to plan the network would stretch 1748km between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Port Macquarie and Taree were included in the lists of stops along with other northern towns such as Casino, Grafton and Coffs Harbour.
The report says the Port Macquarie station would be located west of the town’s CBD – “west of the Oxley Highway/Pacific Highway interchange” – but does not go into more detail.
Taree’s station would be south-east of town centre - along Old Bar Road and Newcastle’s west of the city but east of the F3 Freeway.
While demand may exist in the regional centres, today’s report said it would not necessarily follow that each regional centre should have its own HSR station.
For instance, the far North Coast area of Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Casino could be served by one regional station,
The Great Lakes area could be served by a station at Taree, but could also be served by a Newcastle regional station.
An HSR station located at Newcastle could serve the population centres of Maitland, Cessnock and Port Stephens.
In choosing where regional high-speed rail stations should be located, the study followed several guidelines which included a list of “must-haves”: good access from the regional road network; be near population centres and growth areas; be near regional transport such as airports or other transport infrastructure.
The guidelines said the towns should also be clear of flood plains or steep topography and be distanced from heritage areas.
The study says the preferred regional stops were selected on the basis of accessibility, sustainability and consistency with land use, capital cost and constructability.
In August 2010, the Australian Government committed to a strategic study on the implementation of high speed rail (HSR) on the east coast of Australia.
The terms of reference for the study were released by Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport on October 31, 2010.
The study, managed by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, was established to inform the Australian Government, the ACT and state governments' consideration of next steps for high speed rail in Australia. The study was undertaken in two phases.
The Phase 1 report was launched by the Minister, on August 4, 2011. The report identified corridors and station locations and potential patronage, as well as providing an indicative estimate of the cost to build an HSR network.
Phase 2 was released today.
Under the recommendations, work on the Sydney-to-Canberra section would start in 2027, because travel volumes were greatest between Sydney and Melbourne.
The network would not be fully operational until 2058, when the Gold Coast-to-Newcastle link was completed.
Work could start sooner if a decision was made quickly, funding was available, and work hours for construction were extended, meaning the Newcastle-to-Sydney section may be finished five years earlier.
High-speed rail would slash the journey time from the Hunter to Sydney to just 39 minutes, and carry up to 4.75million passengers between the two by 2065.