High speed rail study—Terms of reference

A strategic study will be undertaken on the implementation of a high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia.

The study will focus on identifying possible routes, corridor preservation and station options, including city-centre, city-periphery and airport stations. This will provide a basis for route development, indicative transit times and high-level construction costs.

As part of the core network element at the centre of the east coast corridor, the Newcastle-Sydney ‘spine’ will be a central aspect of this work. Options for links northwards to Brisbane and southwards to Canberra and Melbourne will also be considered.

Specifically the study will:

  • Identify undeveloped land corridors and/or existing corridors that could be considered for a high speed railway, and preservation strategies;
  • Identify the main design decisions and requirements to build and operate a viable high speed rail network on the east coast of Australia;
  • Present route and station options, including indicative construction costs and interaction with other transport modes;
  • Provide costs estimates of undertaking the next stages of work, such as detailed route alignment identification and corridor resumptions;
  • Identify potential financing and business operating models for the construction and operation of a high speed railway;
  • Provide advice and options on relevant construction, engineering, financial and environmental considerations.

The study will be managed by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. It will draw on expertise from the public and private sectors, as well as international experience, growth forecasts and other contemporary data. Stakeholders will be consulted and will contribute views through a formal reference group, which will include representatives from relevant Commonwealth, state and territory agencies and other key stakeholder groups.

The high speed rail implementation study will by July 2011:

  • Identify the requirements for implementation of a viable HSR network on the east coast;
  • Identify strategic route and station options, including high-level costing.

This initial phase will provide a basis for consultation and inform the specific direction of a second phase, including consideration of the specific corridors, routes and associated issues to be targeted for more detailed examination.

Further work from July 2011 will include:

  • Detailed corridor alignment identification;
  • Identification of preliminary geotechnical issues;
  • Development of comprehensive robust cost estimates for preferred options;
  • Further investigation of investment and (public and private) financing options;
  • Detailed patronage and revenue forecasts;
  • Consideration of preferred options in relation to other modes (for example, airport capacity implications resulting from diversion of air traffic to train).

This final work and report will take approximately 12 months to complete and will inform the Australian Government and state and territory governments' consideration of next steps for high speed rail in Australia.