Greens unveil high-speed rail network plan

THE Greens have unveiled a plan to spend $1.2 billion during the next four years to fast-track the construction of a high-speed rail network between Brisbane and Melbourne.

A $20 million, three-year feasibility study released in April found the 1750km rail line would need to be built in five stages at a cost $114 billion.

The construction timetable outlined in the phase two report indicated the line would not be completed until 2058.

But the report also contained an accelerated timetable, which would bring the completion date forward five years, with the Greens' proposal .

It is the approach the Greens have adopted in their proposal, which calls for the acceleration of inter-governmental agreements and legislation to get high speed rail moving and the establishment of a dedicated high speed rail authority to develop and manage the project.

This would include the preparation of a detailed finance and investment plan, surveying the best rail corridors with the relevant state and local governments, securing property along the route and undertaking a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.

The Greens say the proposal has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office at $664 million over the forward estimates period, plus $570 million for an environmental impact statement, and could result in the first project contracts being signed within five years.

Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt said the rest of the developed world was already embracing HSR and Australia was at risk of being left behind.

"Australia and Antarctica are the only continents without high speed rail under way, and I'm worried that if we leave it up to Labor and Liberal the penguins are going to beat us to it," Mr Bandt told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Bandt is due to discuss details of the Greens' proposal at a conference on HSR in Sydney on Wednesday.

APN Newsdesk reported in April parts of the New South Wales North Coast would be within two hours of Sydney if the line was built, with Grafton, Casino and Coffs Harbour to be among 12 regional stops along the route.