29.06.2020Faster rail: an opportunity to reshape Australia’s urban landscape

As the impact of the COVID-19 (C-19) pandemic slows Australia’s economic activity, never has there been a more important time to consider investment in faster rail and infrastructure which could underpin Australia’s recovery, enabling greater connectivity between major cities and regions.

Even before the onset of social and economic restrictions brought about by C-19, the Federal Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities began conducting a formal inquiry into the options for financing faster rail. The pandemic has added impetus to the need for faster rail.

In a submission made to the Inquiry, the Committee highlighted the clear, direct benefits of faster rail investment, including the immediate benefits to economic activity and job creation through to longer term benefits of improved mobility and connectivity. However, a larger, more strategic benefit is available if Australia is bold enough to seize the moment: the fundamental reshaping of Australia’s urban landscape.

With Australia’s major cities, including Greater Melbourne, undergoing seismic and complex change, investing in faster rail would not only help these major centres become more sustainable in the long-term, it would activate major regional centres. A national settlement vision and execution of a plan, underpinned by faster rail, will help ensure that Australia remains a highly desirable destination to live, work, invest, and play.

In light of the current stimulus packages being delivered by governments to keep businesses running, and people employed through the C-19 crisis, visionary and flexible funding arrangements will need to be developed to deliver faster rail. The Committee supports the consideration of value capture as a funding mechanism. Designed to capture any uplift in value generated by new transport infrastructure, this mechanism could assist governments seeking to recoup some of the costs for taxpayers of their transport infrastructure investment.

The Committee will continue to advocate strongly for faster rail and infrastructure that might underpin Australia’s recovery, but also enable greater connectivity between major cities and regions. For more information about the Committee’s Transport Taskforce, please contact Leanne Edwards, Director Policy or Brett van Duppen, Policy and Research Officer.

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