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False hopes not raised

01 May 2002

ANYONE expecting Australia's federal government to have lent support to plans for a high speed line linking Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane would have to be pretty naive or plain optimistic. Having damned the VFT and Speedrail projects in the past, the government said on March 27 that it would no longer support the new line proposal, which arose out of the cancellation of Speedrail (RG 1.01 p5). The announcement followed a 'scoping study' which found that the government would have to provide 'A$50bn upwards' to make it happen, according to Transport Minister John Anderson.

The minister said it would be 'a cruel exercise in raising false hopes to continue'. Last year the government allocated A$20m to further studies, and costs so far amount to A$2·3m, said Anderson. His view that the line 'is just not realistic' is quite in accord with previous federal attitudes and should come as no surprise. Local commentators felt that A$50bn was a tad high, suggesting that this figure was based on a maglev project, which would certainly not come cheap.