High Speed Rail

Following multiple studies and years of debate, a 350km/hr High Speed Rail line is back on public and political agendas.

High Speed Rail is not another rail project. This is long-term nation-building project designed for the future landscape of Australia.

Australia’s rising population is overloading our cities, creating crippling congestion and increasing the demand on our transport systems. 

If our cities come to a standstill, so too will our nation’s productivity.

Australia needs an improved transport system that provides for our future. One that connects the nation; opens up regional Australia; transforms the way people live, work and travel; and efficiently moves our growing population and freight around the country.


The Federal Government's Implementation Study

Through a two-phase implementation study, a 1,748 km preferred route (Melbourne – Brisbane) has been earmarked with four city centre stations, four city-peripheral stations (two in Sydney, one in Brisbane, one in Melbourne) and 12 regional stations.

Specifically, the following route has been proposed:

  • Stage one: Sydney, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury Wodonga, Shepparton, Melbourne.
  • Stage two: Sydney, Central Coast, Newcastle, Taree, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Casino, Gold Coast, Brisbane.



HSR Routes




Travel times


Forecast passengers in 2065


Line 1:
Sydney - Melbourne


2 hours 44 mins

18.76M people/yr

Stage 1:
Sydney - Canberra


64 mins

5.19M people/yr

Stage 2:
Canberra - Melbourne


2 hours 10 min

2.7M people/year

Line 2:
Sydney - Brisbane


2hrs 37 mins

10.86M people/yr

Stage 3:
Sydney - Newcastle


39 mins

4.75M people/yr

Stage 4:
Brisbane - Gold Coast


Not yet modelled

2.2M people/year

Stage 5:
Brisbane - Newcastle


2 hours  21mins

Not yet modelled


Competing with Air

Global experience shows that people will transfer from flying to high speed rail if the trip is shorter than three hours. Any longer than three hours and people will continue to fly.

As a result, the success of high speed rail along Australia’s East Coast relies on its ability to travel between capital cities in under 3 hours.

As per the above table, modelling shows that at speeds of 350km/hr, these travel times are achievable, thus confirming high speed rail’s suitability along Australia’s East Coast.

The key with high speed rail is that the travel is CBD to CBD, not airport to airport, further reducing travel time.



The Way Forward

High Speed Rail is a nation building project that will transform Australia and thus funding should be provided through a special allocation that does not affect existing or future transport funding. The ARA recommends that the route is finalised and preserved.