It's the Chinese Democracy of public infrastructure projects, and if CLARA has anything to say about it, 2045 could be Australia's 2008. CLARA, or Consolidated Land and Rail Australia is a consortium of local and international companies who plan to build a high speed rail network connecting Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. Oh, and completely remake the population distribution of the country in the process.
How fast will the Sydney to Melbourne rail go?
The rail plans, released via YouTube video (below) suggest the train will go up to 430kms an hour, which means it can get from Sydney to Melbourne, express, in an hour and fifty minutes, or, if it stops off in Canberra, Albury and six other proposed regional centres, two hours and forty minutes. It can get from Sydney to Canberra airport in about forty minutes.
Who are CLARA?
CLARA's board includes two former premiers: Steve Bracks of Victoria, and New South Wales's Barry O'Farrell. The company's chairman is Nick Cleary. Oh, and they've already met with the Prime Minister about the proposal.
Fine, but what'll it cost?
In the past, Sydney to Melbourne rail proposals have typically been government run. This one comes from private industry, and they're saying that while the project will come in at $200 billion dollars, none of that will come from tax payers. It'll come from the land surrounding the rail corridor. Where the high speed train stops, cities will spring up, and the initial rail profits will come from the development and resale of land around those train stops. Oh, and they've already secured rights to 40 per cent of the land needed. It worked for the Robber Barons in 1800s America, so it could well work here. Let's just hope it doesn't have quite the same – ahem – consequences.
And how long will it take?
The entire project will take forty or fifty years to realise. However, CLARA say, with co-operation from all three levels of government, construction could start within five years. The first step is acquiring the rest of the land required to create the rail corridor, and then, if you believe CLARA's video, a utopian future will follow.