Regional Fast Rail and Regional Development: Irrigation or Desertification?

transport research forum(2018)

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There is a distinct shift in Australian proposals for high speed rail (HSR) development. From the 1984 CSIRO proposal until recently, the focus of private and public sector HSR initiatives have been long distance intercity connections, typically including some or all of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide. However, the Commonwealths Faster Rail program is funding business cases that connect regional cities to the eastern seaboard metropolises, signifying that HSR is no longer seen as a transport solution, it is a panacea for metropolitan growth problems and regional city economies. This article outlines the theory and international experiences of HSRs propensity to irrigate or desertify the regions, and points to the need for more than just transport services to ensure positive outcomes for regional communities.
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