High Speed Sydney-Melbourne Rail Bid On Its Way To The Top

Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) is preparing a bid for a high-speed rail system that would connect Sydney to Melbourne by a two-hour trip.

The plan, which will be pitched to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull within the first half of 2017, proposes running a rail line from Melbourne to Shepparton, which is the first stage of the overall development.

What will follow is a 30-year process in which separate lines will be added to the initial Melbourne-Shepparton track, from Canberra, Goulburn and finally completing in Sydney.

By the 2040s, CLARA aims to have a Sydney to Melbourne rail line which, using Japanese Maglev technology, would provide a trip just under two hours between the two cities.

CLARA also wants to create eight sustainable SMART cities – two inland cities in Victoria and a further six in NSW – along the line. According to The Australian, the consortium has already sec­ured almost 20,000 hectares for new dev­elopment sites along the rail corridor prior to submitting the bid.

The CLARA Plan. Phase one is the proposed leg from Melbourne to the Greater Shepparton Region. This will involve a $13bn high speed rail into northern Victoria and the development of two new partner cities in the region over 30 years.

“We are very excited to now be at a point to deliver this required information within the first half of 2017,” CLARA Chairman Nick Cleary told The Australian.

“This is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Snowy Hydro Scheme, of this generation.

Mr Cleary believes CLARA’s “detailed bid” for Mr Turnbull and the ­government would require only one ­ingredient in order to secure an environmental ­impact statement and progress further: political will.

“We have had great discussions with government at all ­levels — they all have shown ­initial interest in the project but have all requested a more detailed proposal,” Mr Cleary said.

“This is the time to show we can still do nation-building projects. The engagement with the private sector will demonstrate the government’s role as an ­enabler for large scale projects.

“We are the only company that has the land under our legal control to be able to implement this nation-building project, and solve so many of the states’ and national issues — including congestion, housing affordability, overcrowding, and how to house the additional 14 million people by 2050.

“And in solving these we are also able to deliver the long-awaited, often-sought, achievable high speed rail at no cost to ­government,” Mr Cleary said.

The Australian reported that Mr Turnbull has ­previously expressed support for the $200 billion proposal, but Urban In­frastructure Minister Paul ­Fletcher is understood to be highly sceptical of the plan.

CLARA is expected to continue to negotiate with the Victorian and NSW governments and at council level if the bid is unsuccessful at a federal level.

John Alexander, chairman of a parliamentary committee examining better transport connectivity, has argued that there exists a “perfect storm” of opportunity for the project to be financially viable.

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