What about high-speed rail?
High-speed rail between Canberra and Sydney has been discussed since the early 1980s and in 2022 the Albanese Government fulfilled an election promise by establishing a High Speed Rail Authority tasked with the construction of a high-speed rail network connecting Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
The Canberra Region Joint Organisation (CRJO) advocates for the 11 local Councils surrounding the ACT. In lending its support to the call for a long-term infrastructure plan for the Canberra Region, the CRJO stated its top priority was improving the speed of rail travel between Canberra and Sydney.
An almost four-and-a-half hour train ride from Sydney to Canberra is not conducive to our vision of the National Capital as a global city. Fastrack Australia’s 2023 plan lays out a staged approach to upgrading the existing line, rather than replacing it with a new one. Their proposal offers gradual improvements in speed culminating in a 90-minute Canberra-to-Sydney trip after the fifth stage of works is complete. Fastrack’s assessment of the importance of this project for the Canberra Region contends that reduced travel times will accelerate the growth of regional centres surrounding the ACT, like Yass and Goulburn, by increasing their felt proximity to the city, thereby making faster trains a key enabler of regional economic growth.
Canberra’s light rail network would be connected directly to an upgraded heavy rail line via a rail terminal located at the airport. Canberra Airport included such a terminal in its latest Master Plan — which requires approval from the Federal Department of Infrastructure prior to publication — and has offered to fund the works for this terminal in full.