Even though there’s no specific timeframe on its fruition, Catherine King is adamant high-speed rail will eventuate between Sydney and Newcastle.
During a visit to the Hunter this week, the federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government doubled down on her commitment to deliver the “transformative project”.
Just recently, Tim Parker was appointed the inaugural CEO of the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA), which is overseeing the eagerly-anticipated venture.
He boasts more than 30 years of experience, including as the Head of Project Delivery for Sydney Metro since 2018.
The Australian Government has committed $500 million to facilitate a high-speed rail network on Australia’s east coast starting with the Sydney to Newcastle section.
“Tim’s come out of New South Wales Rail Transport,” Ms King said.
“He’s a project delivery person; it’s what he does – he builds rail.
“And, he’s as keen as mustard on getting well and truly started on this job.
“We’re now working our way through all the things that will need to be done to make sure we can get high-speed rail from Sydney to Newcastle.
“But, it’s not just about the rail; it’s actually about the economic opportunities it brings to Newcastle and the Hunter once we’ve got it here.
“You’ll start to see, over the coming years, a lot of that investment come as a result.
“I’ve been over to Birmingham, had a look at High-Speed Rail 2 and seen the sort of incredible things that are happening in that city.
“They’ve got major investment occurring, where you’ve got head offices of significant companies moving out of London because of the costs.
“That’s the opportunity presented to Newcastle by high-speed rail.
“However, we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“This is not something that you can just magically build.
“I wish you could wave a wand and it would be there.
“But, we need to get this right.
“There are a lot of lessons to be learned from high-speed rail in other countries as well as the failures of projects in our own country.”
Ms King admitted she’d been “cautious” about setting a finish date for the development.
“I know everyone is desperate for it, 10, 15 or 20 years, but I don’t want to put a timeframe on it,” she said.
“Promising things we can’t deliver is a mistake.
“However, it’s well and truly time we had high-speed rail in this country.
“This corridor is the busiest.
“The fact that you’ve got a train service that is now slower than when it first started a long, long, long time ago is ridiculous.
“At the end of the day, you don’t go out putting timeframes on something before you have knowledge about how we’re going to fund it, how we’re going to implement it, what the geotechnical issues are.
“So, I’m very reluctant do that until we’ve got a lot more information.
“What we’re asking from the HSRA is the business case for Sydney to Newcastle by the end of this year.
“Then, we’ll go from there.”
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