“It would be a real game changer – it is expensive, but nation-building requires vision.”
Federal Cities and Urban Infrastructure Minister Alan Tudge said Australia would one day need high-speed rail, but said it was up to the states to first acquire land for the corridor.
“High-speed rail has to be part of the landscape in the future,” Mr Tudge said.
“Corridor preservation is critical, which only state governments have the power to do.»
He said the Morrison government was already investigating building high-speed rail along the east coast.
Three high-speed rail business cases were under way, including from Sydney to Newcastle and from Melbourne to Shepparton, and all were due for completion within the next few months, Mr Tudge said.
Infrastructure Australia this month put the cost of preserving land along the proposed corridor at $2.8 billion.
The federal agency said in its most recent infrastructure priority report that corridor preservation between Melbourne and Brisbane remained a high priority.
It has previously warned that a failure to protect the corridor from urban encroachment risks pushing the cost of the project even higher.
Mr Albanese has been federal politics’ most vocal proponent of high-speed rail for years. In December he narrowly failed to win a parliamentary vote to bring on debate about establishing a high-speed rail authority.
Despite this, the Bill Shorten-led opposition is yet to make a pledge to put funds towards the project.
Labor made a $54 million promise in the 2016 election to establish a high-speed rail authority.
It also proposed to seek expressions of interest from international companies that have built high-speed rail, to see if the huge project cost could be reduced.
The cost of constructing high-speed rail between Melbourne and Brisbane was estimated at $114 billion in 2013.
Yoshikazu Nishida is general manager of the Sydney office of the Central Japan Railway Company.
He said there had been recent advances in rail tunnelling techniques, but these were unlikely to dramatically reduce the estimated cost.
State Political Correspondent for The Age