A private development group believes that the construction of a high-speed rail line along the eastern coast of Australia could facilitate the creation of eight entirely new inland cities.

Melbourne-based Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA) has publicly unveiled its proposal for the creation of a high speed rail line that will connect Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, while also paving the way for the development of a slew of new cities in New South Wales and Victoria.

According to CLARA’s proposal the development of a long-distance rapid transit link will expedite the creation of eight new cities across the inland regions between Sydney and Melbourne – six in New South Wales and two in Victoria.

CLARA considers the construction of this raft of new cities on the back of a new high speed rail connection to be a potential panacea for Australia’s housing and urban development dilemmas.

The establishment of eight new urban centres could greatly alleviate the pressure on housing and infrastructure  in Australia’s established major cities created by ongoing population growth. CLARA claims its plan will “rebalance the Australian settlement” by “building new cities to decentralise our population.”

CLARA has also given extensive consideration to the precise type of urban settlement that it plans to establish across the hinterland of Australia’s south-eastern shoreline, envisaging the creation of “advanced, sustainable smart cities….[connected] by the world’s most advanced high speed rail.”

The high speed rail could run at speeds of as high as 430km/h, with an expected cost of around $200 billion that CLARA believes could be private funded via land value capture policies.

This in essence means that these new urban centres will facilitate the funding of the high speed rail infrastructure that will make their establishment feasible in the first place.

“CLARA’s pre-feasibility business model has the city sites and rail infrastructure privately funded land value capture,” said the group. “Unlike other proposals for high speed rail in the past,CLARA’s infrastructure can be paid for from the city development rather than from government coffers.”

CLARA has already entered into land deals for a number of inland regions, which it claims will further reduce dependence upon taxpayer funds, and believes that construction on the project could commence in as little as five years should multi-tier government support be forthcoming.

“Because CLARA has the land for new cities development our business model projects a commercially viable project that should not call on taxpayer funding.”

The first phase of the proposal envisages the construction of a $13 billion high speed rail line across northern Victoria, as well as the creation of two new cities in the region over a three decade period.


Image: Ethan Elkind