High speed rail could get Wollongong commuters to Sydney in just 15 minutes – and federal MP John Alexander reckons the government should be making it happen.
The Liberal MP is the chair of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities, which on Monday released the report Building Up and Moving Out.
A report about assessing the federal government’s role in development of cities, among its recommendations was that developing an east coast high speed rail network should be “given a priority”.
“We should be absolutely planning it,” Mr Alexander said.
“The reserving of the corridors should not be limited to just Sydney or Melbourne, it’s obvious it should be from Nowra to Noosa.
“We should be looking at 50 years and beyond in our planning and then just working out how we roll it out.”
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He said reducing travel times was crucial because, when it came to commuting people thought in terms of time rather than distance.
And, over time, high speed rail could also reduce the distance people had to commute to work.
“People say ‘I can live in Wollongong and commute to Sydney’. Initially there will be a larger amount of traffic that goes towards the cities,” he said.
“But as these places grow and get to a position of being a sustainable city, businesses will locate in these regions.
“People will largely live, work and play in these regional cities but have all the benefits of access to the major city in regard to business and work prospects.”
He said evidence to the committee claimed each year the corridor reservation was delayed added billions to the eventual cost.
Whatever the bottom line, he said it could be met by value capture.
This could see a levy placed on properties along the rail corridor to capture some of the expected “uplift” in land values.
“If you can value capture that uplift, that alone can fund the high speed rail,” he said.