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          ARA Has Called for The High-Speed Rail Project to Be Put to Market

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          Core prompt: In its submission to the Phase 2 High-Speed Rail Implementation Study, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has called

          In its submission to the Phase 2 High-Speed Rail Implementation Study, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has called for the high-speed rail project to be put to market.

          The ARA submission acknowledges the recommendation for a dedicated high-speed rail corridor, but proposes that the costs, timeframe, links to airports, freight opportunities, and regional benefits are re-examined.

          ARA CEO Bryan Nye said to see the proven technology become a reality, the Inter-Governmental Agreement should be completed with much greater speed than the study proposes, and the route should be finalised and protected and the project put to market.

          "High-speed rail is the one intergenerational project that will transform Australia and after decades of debate, we cannot afford to delay," he said.

          "The priority should be putting the project to market to formally test its viability within the private sector. This will have two benefits: it will deliver the project at a lower cost and achieve a faster implementation."

          "With east coast trips set to reach 355 million by 2065 without high-speed rail, travel movements alone confirm that we have the travel demand to support a high-speed network – but consideration should be given to linking the stations with airports."

          "A station at CanberraAirport would take $700 million off the project price tag and overseas experience shows that air and high-speed train travel are complementary when connected."

          To assist in funding this long-term project, the ARA recommends alternative funding options be explored.

          "Governments around the world are using alternate funding options to finance projects and we should be doing the same here. This could include real estate value capture along the route and around stations, acquiring larger parcels of land than required and selling it back to developers, airport alliances and transport-oriented developments," said Mr Nye.

          The ARA also argues that greater recognition be made of the benefits high-speed rail could provide for regional areas.

          "If we are to continue as we are, we will have mega cities on our east coast with little in between. High-speed rail will connect city and country, opening up regional Australia and decentralising our population. The benefits are endless."

           
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