This time it’s private enterprise that is carrying the banner with a plan to build a link between Sydney and Melbourne at no cost to government or taxpayers.
But there are a number of catches.
The plan put up by Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) would require all three tiers of government to agree to allowing CLARA to build eight new cities which through the sale of land would finance the railway.
Given that the federal parliament cannot agree on the simplest of legislation, the chances of getting the three tiers to agree to such an ambitious plan seems to be stretching credibility.
Another point weighing against the plan is the fact the group seems to have little or no railway experience.
It is headed by a former real estate agent and the plan relies on “value capture” – selling off cheaply purchased land for a large profit – for its success.
CLARA claims to have already secured a large proportion of the land it would need to build the eight cities along the route of the line.
The entire project would take 40 years to complete.
Presumably this is because the land would have to be sold before the railway could progress, and as the cities would rely on the railway to be viable in what CLARA head Nick Cleary described as a symbiotic relationship, this begs the question: What comes first – city or railway?
Again CLARA claims a speed between the nation’s two largest cities of two hours using the world’s fastest-available trains.
How this sort of journey time will be achieved, given that the trains will have to stop in at least some of the eight new cities built along the route, is not clear.
It sounds almost too good to be true. Only time will tell.
Vale Bryan Nye
On 12 September, as the October–December (20-4) issue of Track + Signal went to press, the industry learned with sadness of the death of former Australasian Railway Association (ARA) chief executive Bryan Nye (OAM). For the past two years Mr Nye – a passionate advocate of rail in Australia and New Zealand and head of the ARA for 12 years until 2015 – had suffered from Motor Neuron Disease.
– TONY DUBOUDIN, editor