Sydney a challenge for high-speed rail

The federal government has highlighted the potentially “enormous” cost of building a high-speed rail link through Sydney and admits the concept could face opposition from environmentalists.

The government last year commissioned a $20 million feasibility study to investigate the idea of linking Brisbane and Melbourne via the high speed line, potentially ensuring faster commutes for those living in the regions.

The first part of that study, containing indicative costings, timetables and potential routes, will be published some time after July, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday.

Advertisement: Story continues below By July 2012 a more detailed part of the report would be released, containing geotechnical aspects of the project.

But Mr Albanese said the Sydney portion of the link would likely present a major stumbling block.

“It’s a real challenge building infrastructure in Sydney and part of the issues they’re looking at is how you will deal with what will be a 200-metre-wide corridor,” he told reporters in Sydney.

Speaking to a Property Council of Australia breakfast earlier in the day, Mr Albanese said the rail link could either go through Sydney’s CBD or through Parramatta.

“The costs when you hit Sydney are enormous and one of the reasons why we’re going to release the report … is to get a bit of sober analysis about exactly what we’re facing,” he told delegates.

“It is a significant planning challenge … we’re a victim of our geography and it certainly will require a massive tunnelling exercise, which of course means considerable costs.”

Mr Albanese also admitted the project could face opposition from environmentalists.

“I’m a big supporter, I think there’s massive public support but we need to actually analyse the cost, the route, the impact of it.

“Wait for the demos from the environmentalists about the high-speed rail line – it’s coming folks.”

From: Brisbane Times