The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed an announcement by federal Labor that it will invest $1 billion to begin securing a corridor for a high-speed rail link between Brisbane and Melbourne if elected to government.
Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said the commitment of funds to preserve the corridor and the promised establishment of a High Speed Rail Authority were important steps in planning for this long-term project to improve connectivity between major cities and regions.
“The project has been discussed for decades so the process of identifying and securing a corridor will bring certainty and give state and local governments clearer direction on land-use planning to ensure urban areas do not infringe on the likely route of the rail link,” Mr Hawes said.
“This is already emerging as an issue in our region where urban development in western Newcastle and Lake Macquarie near the M1 is gathering momentum.
“There is a large body of evidence to suggest that substantial benefits will flow to the Hunter from improved rail connections, to Sydney in particular. These include an influx of residential and business investment, enhanced employment options, less road congestion and better synergies with economic centres in Sydney and along the eastern seaboard.”
Mr Hawes said while high-speed rail was the best option for intercity travel in the longer term, the Chamber was also keen to see progress on the State Government’s investigations into ‘faster rail’ between Sydney and Newcastle, which offered a viable short-to-medium-term solution for improving connectivity between the cities.
“Both projects are important but it is likely to be decades before the benefits of high-speed rail are realised, so the Chamber believes they should be developed in tandem,” Mr Hawes said.