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Forget the fast rail, fix what's broken now: expert

The Easter Monday traffic jam on the Bruce Highway shows why it needs to be upgraded.
The Easter Monday traffic jam on the Bruce Highway shows why it needs to be upgraded.

A SUNSHINE Coast transport infrastructure expert has warned the Federal Government's high-speed rail network plan could be a distraction to the pressing issues in our own backyard.

Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday released the second and final report on a high-speed rail network which the study forecast would be fully operating by 2065.

The 1748km fast train rail track between Brisbane and Melbourne comes with an estimated $114 billion price tag.

University of the Sunshine Coast regional and urban planning lecturer Dr Nicholas Stevens said the Coast did not need the "pie in the sky" project to distract State and Federal governments from committing investment to improve the existing regional transport corridors.

"Get the Bruce Hwy up to standard," Dr Stevens said.

"Build regional capacity and competitiveness through the North Coast rail duplication, to Nambour, Gympie and beyond.

"Let's see the investment in the Sunshine Coast Airport - for that matter the high-speed rail is largely intended as a low-flying plane - the report says as much."

But Dr Stevens said the three Sunshine Coast transport options should not be looked in isolation.

"You need to invest in rail, road and aviation," he said.

"Each serves a particular need and as such they are largely complimentary.

"From an infrastructure perspective you have to have capacity in a variety of modes.

"It would be fair to say at the moment we have bottlenecks in each of those infrastructure modes as they serve the Sunshine Coast and the greater Queensland East Coast corridor.

"We need some significant action from all tiers of government, the private sector and the Sunshine Coast community to ensure these important transport infrastructure projects are no longer overlooked."

Dr Stevens said the high-speed rail plans in their current form would not eventuate in full.

"I believe the Canberra to Sydney aspects of the high-speed rail may well be viable; and the economic analysis may stack up if no commitment to a second Sydney airport is made," he said.

Topics:  fast train public transport rail sunshine coast trains


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