Government invests $2 billion in “high speed” rail in 2019 Budget

Tonight Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg presented his first budget ahead of an upcoming federal election. In that budget, there wasn’t a lot for technology enthusiasts.

What is an important development in the transport infrastructure in Australia, is an investment in ‘high speed’ rail. This forms a central pillar of the Government’s plan to open up the regional cities. As someone from Albury Wodonga, I love the plan, but does raise the question of the technology being used.

The Government have committed to providing $2 billion in this Budget for fast-rail between Melbourne and Geelong, slashing travel times in half. This enables people to buy more affordable properties in Geelong, while being able to commute to work in the city in a reasonable timeframe.

Work is underway to develop fast-rail corridors in other areas:

  • Sydney to Wollongong, Newcastle, Bathurst, Orange and Parkes.
  • Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
  • Melbourne to Shepparton, Traralgon and Wodonga.

That final point there is the most interesting for me personally. Tomorrow I jump on a train to head to Melbourne, it’s trips like this that occur relatively frequently as I review different vehicles. Having the time to travel from Wodonga to Melbourne would be absolutely brilliant and something I’d expect more to do, given the reduced timeframe.

Now it’s time to talk about ‘high speed’. Those who follow industry developments in transport would know Hyperloop is set to be the fastest transport method, travelling up to a 1,000km/hr and beyond. The problem is the technology is only in testing phase, so if you’re going to buy something today, it’s probably not the answer.

What is well understood, is the Meglev trains of Japan that travel 300km/hr+. This technology uses electromagnets that create a magnetic field, which pushes and pulls the train towards the track.

So given the Government is talking about ‘high speed’, you’d expect it to be that fast or better right? Nope, the Government is talking about trains that travel at just 200km/hr. Ironically, the VLine fleet already has a top speed of 210km/hr already, but the rail limitations mean they regularly travel at around 100-130km/hr depending on line quality.

While the initial investment will go towards the Geelong line, the Government is going to need a lot more than 2 billion to achieve the rest of their rail plans, so without funding, I’m a lot less confident it’ll be achieved in the next term of Government.

You can review the Budget 2019 detail at

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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