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How CLARA links Canberra to Sydney-Melbourne high speed train

Proponents of the latest high speed rail link say a trip from Canberra to Sydney will take 40 minutes, but have not put the national capital on the main route.

Consolidated Land and Rail Australia managing director Jay Grant says Canberra will be an important part of the $200 billion plan, expected to take 40 years to complete.

A high-speed train spur line from Yass will link to Canberra Airport. Airport managing director Stephen Byron says it once again raises the prospect of Canberra being a secondary airport for Sydney.

Based on creating new cities, the privately funded project would use real estate development to pay for rail infrastructure, enabling both cities and train to be possible. Mr Grant says on their own, new cities in the region will not be viable and on its own, he did not believe high speed rail would be viable either.

The project would be privately funded on a value-uplift model.

Mr Grant says this needs new city development where maximum uplift in land values is available, which is not available in existing cities like Canberra, with elevated real estate prices. "They must be greenfield," he said.

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Mr Byron is surprised CLARA is proposing to begin the scheme in Victoria, rather than linking Sydney Newcastle and Canberra first. But he is supportive of CLARA and any other bidder that wants to come forward.

Mr Byron says Canberra Airport's terminal has the space, and the ACT Government endorsement, for a high speed rail station.

"The game-changer in all of this has been the public discussions that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has had about value capture," Mr Byron said. "That is a significant signal to not only this consortium but to others that have been thinking about this sort of project for some years," he said.

This made projects of this magnitude more viable. "If high speed rail is built between Sydney and Canberra, Canberra would be able to serve as a significant reliever airport for congested Kingsford Smith Airport," Mr Byron said.

"So while we still support Badgerys Creek airport, this would allow the federal government to save many hundreds of millions of dollars on that project and deliver additional aviation capacity for Sydney basin."

Mr Grant says Yass and Goulburn would be among new satellite cities that would open up the whole region. "Then you have this enormous regional economy and regional labor market that extends hundreds of kilometres, rather than just Sydney, just Melbourne, or just Canberra," Mr Grant said.

"Australia doesn't have to work out how to make bigger cities, it is not about making Sydney and Melbourne bigger, it is about making more cities," he said.

Australia's population was projected to grow by 14 million, and people expected to go to Sydney and Melbourne. "What we are offering is if they want to go to a region, they can do so and enjoy a lifestyle with a brand new, smart sustainable city and not go without proximity to major hubs when they need or desire it," he said.

Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Robyn Hendry says the model highlights places like Canberra as a regional hub, the overcrowding of places like western Sydney and Melbourne and ability of people to have higher quality lifestyles moving away from high density places.

Yass Mayor Rowena Abbey says ratepayers began asking her about the proponents about six months ago, when they made offers for options on land in the Yass area..

"Some of ratepayers who know me as a friend say is this right, what shall I do? And I'm suggesting they speak to their lawyer or real estate agent, because it is outside my skill set advising them on property," Mrs Abbey said.

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