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The Australian Government is committed to exploring the opportunities for faster passenger rail links between our major cities and our regions

The Australian Government’s Faster Rail Connecting Capital Cities and Orbital Regional Centres initiative was announced on Tuesday 9 May 2017 as part of the 2017–18 Budget. This initiative will explore improvements to the rail connections between our cities and surrounding regional areas through $20 million in funding to support the development of business cases. Business cases will need to demonstrate faster rail travel times through new or upgraded rail infrastructure.

This initiative forms part of the Australian Government’s passenger rail agenda

This agenda includes: • committing to rail investment over the next 10 years through the $10 billion National Rail Program announced in the 2017–18 Budget; • supporting planning for city-shaping passenger rail improvements in our major cities; • investing in partnership with state and territory governments in passenger rail; and • reaching a fact based view of likely future rail priorities through Urban Rail Plans for our five major cities and the surrounding regions.

Australian Government objectives for faster passenger rail

As our cities become larger, improving their passenger rail networks is important in key ways: • New or extended rail lines can support the release of new land for housing or employment, either on the outskirts of the city or in areas experiencing urban renewal. • Rail is the most efficient way to move people quickly to and from our CBDs and other employment clusters. As the number of jobs in CBDs and other employment clusters rises, we need higher capacity rail connections in and out of these locations, especially to link people living in fast growing outer suburbs and regional centres to jobs and opportunities. • Rail corridors are well suited to apartment and townhouse living. This mode of living is increasingly popular, and will represent a growing share of homes as our big cities grow and the population density rises. • The regional communities surrounding a city are closely integrated economically and socially with that city: just look at the number of people who commute between Geelong and Melbourne, the Blue Mountains and Sydney, and the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane. Some commute five days a week, and others will do a mix of a couple of days in the city and the rest working from home. Better rail connections can help that integration, benefiting the city and its surrounding regional areas.

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