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Fast Rail: A Catalyst for Growing Regions

Jacobs’ new paper asks the question: How can regional centers maximize the growth opportunities created by fast rail?

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Fast or High Speed Rail?

While there's no universally agreed definition, the paper considers fast rail to refer to rollingstock and infrastructure capable of delivering speeds of between 160 km/h and 250 km/h, compared to high speed rail which delivers speeds of 250km/h and greater.

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Jacobs has released a new paper titled: Fast rail – A catalyst for growth in the regions. The paper explores how fast rail connections can benefit regional economies and populations, beyond providing improved connections to jobs, opportunities, activities and services in nearby capital cities.

Read the full paper here

The paper is set in an Australian context where population and economic growth has historically been heavily skewed towards the state capital cities, and where fast rail projects are seen as one answer to rebalancing growth more evenly across the nation. It reviews a number of international fast and high speed rail projects, drawing out the key learnings that can be applied to Australia’s fast rail projects to position them as facilitators of regional economic development, rather than simply as a way to extend the commuter catchments of capital cities. The current COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging opportunities it presents for regional centres is also discussed.

To realize the right balance between city commuting and regional development, the paper proposes four key considerations for planners:

  • Creating high-end catalyst employment opportunities ahead of fast rail arrival.
  • Enabling regional workers to retain personal and professional connections by facilitating city-living/regional-working through reliable and convenient travel times in both directions.
  • Locating fast rail station as part of a broader hub.
  • Evolving project economic appraisal tools and techniques to find the right balance for regional centers.

Meet the Authors

Gavin Alford

Gavin Alford - Principal Urban Economist – Cities & Places Solutions, Australia & New Zealand

With a background in urban and regional economics, land use development patterns and transport, Gavin works with clients and government agencies to drive their urban development and infrastructure strategies and proposals, including on wider economic benefits of those strategies and plans and value capture mechanisms.

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Johnathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor - Technical Director – Transport Economics & Policy – Strategic Consulting, Asia Pacific

A transport consultant and economist, Jonathan provides strategic advice to clients in relation to transport demand forecasting and market assessment, cost-benefit analysis, investment prioritization analysis and business case development. He applies economic principles to support analysis and decision making at all stages of the project lifecycle.

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