Firming up a fast train route is a priority | Editorial

Infrastructure Australia is right about one thing in its recent report into corridor protection. State and Federal Governments must act now, in a coordinated way to shore up the Sydney to Melbourne high speed rail route.

The only trouble is that no one knows exactly where it will go. Consolidated Land and Rail Holdings has mapped out an indicative route, going west of Goulburn. It also includes a smart city of 400,000 people west of the city. Infrastructure Australia in its 2013 phase two study identified a route between Sydney and Melbourne diverting west of Goulburn, with a station somewhere to its north.

Representatives from that organisation spoke to Goulburn Mulwaree Council several years ago about the importance of protecting the corridor. But until something concrete happens, there’s only so much councils and the State Government can do.

As Mayor Bob Kirk says: “High speed rail has been talked about forever.”

CLARA’s model avoids an acquisition nightmare by buying up land and relying on value capture for its smart cities. Its tracks would also be elevated, allowing grazing to continue unfettered below. Land would only be needed for easements and crossings.

But it’s no sure bet that the Federal Government will choose CLARA to build Australia’s first high-speed rail network. The company is lodging an unsolicited bid by August but there may be others.

Also at play is the company’s plan for smart cities and how this feeds into the State Government’s regional growth strategy. Does Goulburn really need or want a city of 400,000 people to its north?

No truck with quarry

Quarries are courting controversy in Goulburn Mulwaree of late, not least of all due to heavy vehicle movements.

Nobody wants trucks trundling along country roads ill-equipped to handle them. Bullamalita Road residents are right to be concerned, albeit over two trucks proposed daily to transport product. The road hasn’t been worked upon in years, has perilous table drains and is narrow.

But the voluntary planning agreement struck by the council with the applicants is a good compromise. It contains more remedial action than can be achieved through usual consent conditions. Moreover, there has been extensive public consultation on the development application and this agreement. We believe a better road will emerge.