Harnessing High-Speed Rail in regional cities

The Federal Government has made Phase 2 of its previous election commitment into the study of High-Speed Rail along Australia's East Coast public.

Direct link to all the documentation here.

Setting aside cost and the timeframe for implementation for the moment (as that's what the mainstream debate will focus on) -  let me emphasise we must ensure the regional cities - those that have a mooted station - have proper structure plans in place to harness the opportunity which fast connectivity to capital and other regional cities will bring.

It's unfortunate Julia Gillard has already been spruiking the commuting benefits of the project with this  first (bottom) tweet:

Selling High Speed Rail as a commuting option to alleviate housing affordability in Sydney is the absolute wrong message we should be selling this project on.  In fact using the system as any kind of long-distance commuting option should be discouraged.

Selling the benefits of the project to the public this way will have the effect of extending the issues of mass movement of people from the outer more affordable fringe areas of cities to the centralised employment centres, predominantly located in our respective central cities - it's garden city planning on steroids!

Fast commute? absolutely.  Cheap to commute? not on your nelly - in 2065 it's estimated an Albury - Melbourne fare would be $42 one way.

Instead, Victoria and New South Wales have a unique opportunity to leverage the infrastructure to grow their regional centres - the Australian Inland Empire if you will.

Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga are the three cities between Melbourne and Canberra that are likely to have a station with regionally-focused services.   Our supplimentary debate about the benefits of High Speed Rail should include the respective councils of these regions and focus from the Federal and State levels of government should be on growing the economies of these respective cities to the point where new industries: be they services, manufacturing or further expansion of agri-business can flourish.

Growing and diversifying these economies will be made easier, as the fast access to and from the three capital cities on the route will provide quick access to airports for global connectivity.  It's not rocket science, regional cities are lower-cost employment environments which businesses can leverage to create jobs which in turn will attract people to live in these cities - not commute to them.

Melbourne, and Sydney, are learning that in order to grow their respective cities, urban high-density, short-commute principles are the best to implement - as they take advantage of existing infrastructure, local economic activity expands and diversifies and this knowledge the development market is now catering for throughout capital metropolitan areas can be applied to these regional centres.

It's not just the capitals which should grow into true urban centres; regional cities are equally as relevant and deserving of a strong urban focus.

Development & Planning

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 00:00
City of Port Phillip will this week indicate that it has sufficient reason to object to two pending projects in Port Melbourne. 17 Rocklea Drive and 365-391 Plummer Street are both within the Wirraway Precinct of Fishermans Bend, and both projects are under the authority of the Minister for Planning.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 00:00
Spring Street has released details of a large shutdown of the Pakenham/Cranbourne and Frankston lines which will allow workers to complete major upgrades to the rail infrastructure. The work is required to allow for the introduction of the new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMTs) and will involve upgrading power & catenary, signalling and communications equipment in the Dandenong (Pakenham/Cranbourne) corridor.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.