Fast rail

The Australian Government is leading the way on fast rail to better connect major capital cities with surrounding regional centres PDF: 5782 KB ReadSpeaker.

As a first step, in 2017, the Government committed to invest $20 million in faster rail business cases for Sydney to Newcastle, Melbourne to Greater Shepparton and Brisbane to the regions of Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast. These business cases are due to be completed in late-2019 and will then be considered by the Government.

Building on this first step, the Government has committed $2 billion to help deliver fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne.

The Government will fund an additional five business cases for fast rail between Sydney and Wollongong, Sydney and Parkes (via Bathurst and Orange), Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga, Melbourne and Traralgon, and Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

A National Faster Rail Agency, supported by an Expert Panel, will be established to work in close partnership with state and territory governments and private industry. It will also provide advice to the Government on future fast rail opportunities around Australia, including for high speed rail.

2017 Faster Rail Prospectus

The 2017 Budget included a commitment by the Australian Government to investigate improvements to the rail connections between our cities and surrounding regional areas through $20 million in funding to support the development of up to three faster rail business cases.

This measure supports the continued economic success of cities and their surrounding regions by investigating options for faster travel times through rail upgrades and/or new rail infrastructure.

The Faster Rail Prospectus (the Prospectus) PDF: 2771 KB ReadSpeaker was released on 20 September 2017.

The Prospectus outlined a three stage process for proponents to submit proposals for consideration and for these proposals to be refined down to three that will be subject to further analysis as part of a business case.

  • Stage 1 project proposal outlines closed 13 October 2017.
  • Stage 2 detailed project proposals closed 8 December 2017.
  • Stage 3 business cases are expected to be developed and submitted by late-2019.

Business cases

Following a competitive assessment process, conducted in accordance with the assessment criteria published in the Prospectus, the Australian Government announced on 9 March 2018 that it will provide matching funding for the development of the three following business cases.

Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA)

Proposal Corridor

Melbourne to Greater Shepparton 

Proposal Summary

Build 2 SMART cities and connect these cities with a High Speed Rail system along an identified corridor.


NSW Government (Transport for NSW)

Proposal Corridor

Sydney to Newcastle

Proposal Summary

Provide time savings of approximately one hour through both minor and major service improvements on the existing rail corridor.


North Coast Connect Consortium

Proposal Corridor

Brisbane and the regions of Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast

Proposal Summary

A three stage project to enhance the existing QR North Coast Line through a combination of upgrades to existing lines and a new rail line.


Next steps

Work is progressing on the three business cases and they are expected to be completed before the end of 2019.

It should be noted that financial support for the development of a business case does not indicate Australian Government support for delivery of a project.

The final completed business cases for each of the three projects will be considered in the context of the government’s wider infrastructure priorities and future Budgets. Any future funding commitments will take into account state and private sector financial support.