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The report highlights that the Australian rail network suffers from lower-than-average speeds compared with international counterparts and argues that a rapid programme of modernisation is necessary to accommodate for projected future population growth.
The report aims to support the goals of the Australian federal government, which has been investigating options for the development of faster regional rail services since the launch of its Faster Rail Prospectus in 2017. Support for rail speed upgrade projects was also included in the 2020-2021 Australian federal government budget.
The report defines three speed categories:
The report makes six recommendations to improve the Australian rail network:
In support of Move 6, the report outlines a three-step plan to achieve faster rail:
“With an additional 10 million people expected to move to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane by 2060, faster rail will be essential to support urban renewal in key regional centres,” says ARA CEO, Ms Caroline Wilkie. “Highways in and out of Sydney are already reaching capacity, which means we must invest now in faster rail to support the east coast’s sustainable development.
“For too long rail investment has lagged behind road funding and the regional rail network is now below global standards. It is time to bring Australia up to standard and tap into the new demand for regional development resulting from Covid-19.”
Regional migration survey
The report coincides with a survey of 600 regional and metropolitan residents of the Australian states of New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and Queensland, which found that faster rail connections would make people more likely to consider a move to regional (non-urban) areas after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The survey, conducted by Zing Insights on behalf of ARA, found that faster rail connections would increase the likelihood of 42% of respondents to move to a regional area.
The survey also found that city residents were more 63% more likely to move to a regional location if the travel time to the nearest city was less than an hour. 83% would be more likely to visit regional areas if travel times were less than an hour.
71% of regional residents would also consider taking the train over other modes of transport if upgrades meant that travel times to the nearest city were equal or less than they were for other modes. 84% believe faster rail connections would make their region more attractive for people considering relocating.
The survey also found that 26% of city residents would consider moving to non-urban regions, including 10% responding as “very likely”, with faster rail increasing their likelihood of making the move. Respondents from Sydney were particularly likely to want to move away, with 35% saying they would like to move to a more regional location.
The migration away from cities is also enhanced by the belief of many respondents that a return to full-time office working is unlikely following the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. 43% of respondents are currently working from home more than they did pre-pandemic. 77% of respondents expect at least some of these changes to be permanent.
The post ARA releases Australian Faster Rail report appeared first on International Railway Journal.
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