An artist's impression of what high speed rail might look like in Australia.
A high speed rail station in Civic is the best option for a Canberra leg of the proposed project, according to the ACT Government.
But a proposal to take the line into the city by tunnelling through Mount Ainslie is a “very expensive option,” the ACT’s Transport Infrastructure Minister Simon Corbell said on Monday.
ACT Transport Infrastructure Minister Simon Corbell. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
The minister was reacting to revelations in The Canberra Times that a line down the Majura Valley, through the landmark peak and into Civic via the Ainslie Avenue corridor was one of three options being considered by consultants working on a feasibility study for an east coast network
Mr Corbell told ABC radio that the Civic option would be “transformative” for Canberra.
“I think we have to keep an open mind on all these options and these are options the federal government through its consultants is looking at,” the minister said.
“There is no doubt that bringing a very high speed train link into the heart of the city, connecting it with our commercial centre would be a transformative outcome for our city.
“The fact that you could be in Civic and then two hours later be in the CBD of Sydney or Melbourne would be transformative capacity for our city.”
But Mr Corbell said that tunnelling through Mount Ainslie to get the line into Civic might be too expensive.
“Now, the option of going under Mt Ainslie obviously is very expensive option and I don’t know how seriously the Commonwealth will look at that option,” he said.
“But my perspective on this is ‘what is the best location for a station?’ if there was to be a high speed train built and there’s no doubt in my mind that a city station would be the best location.
“How you get there would have to be subject to much more detailed analysis.”
The minister said that tunnels were a common feature of high speed rail lines overseas and that some underground work would be required in any large Australian city which would be linked to the proposed network.
The Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron, whose company has offered to build a $140million station for a very fast train at the airport, said: ‘‘We’ve always said that the most important thing about a train is to get one to Canberra and the location of a terminal would be driven by that".
''Until this year, we’ve been pretty open about whether it be at the city or here at the airport.
''The lessons from the French and from others who done this technology around the world is that even if you are replacing aviation service say between Canberra and Sydney, you’ll get a good viability uplift by integrating your stations with your airport terminals.’’