The report identifies a potential route for high speed rail (HSR) between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, estimates the costs and benefits, and investigates issues such as construction, patronage, environmental, and urban and regional development.
- The HSR network would comprise approximately 1,748 kilometres of dedicated route between Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne.
- The preferred alignment includes four capital city stations, four city-peripheral stations, and stations at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.
- Once fully operational (from 2065), HSR could carry approximately 84 million passengers each year, with express journey times of less than three hours between Melbourne-Sydney and Sydney-Brisbane.
- The optimal staging for the HSR program would involve building the Sydney-Melbourne line first, starting with the Sydney-Canberra sector. Subsequent stages would be Canberra-Melbourne, Newcastle-Sydney, Brisbane-Gold Coast and Gold Coast-Newcastle.
- The estimated cost of constructing the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety would be around $114 billion (in 2012 dollars).
- The HSR program and the majority of its individual stages are expected to produce only a small positive financial return on investment. Governments would be required to fund the majority of the upfront capital costs.
- If HSR passenger projections were met at the fare levels proposed, the HSR system, once operational, could generate sufficient fare revenue and other revenue to meet operating costs without ongoing public subsidy.
- HSR would substantially improve accessibility for the regional centres it served, and provide opportunity for—although not the automatic realisation of—regional development.