Fast rail vision: Murray Bridge to Adelaide at 200km/h

Tantalising: A train travelling at 200 kilometres per hour could provide an hourly commuter service to Murray Bridge. Photo: Transpennine Express.
Tantalising: A train travelling at 200 kilometres per hour could provide an hourly commuter service to Murray Bridge. Photo: Transpennine Express.

Imagine jumping on a train in Murray Bridge and commuting to Adelaide in a bit over half an hour.

Economics professor Richard Blandy and engineer Edwin Michell are the brains behind an idea which sounds far-fetched but is, they say, just as plausible as the super-fast train links proposed on Australia's eastern seaboard.

Building a fast rail line would allow regional centres like Murray Bridge to become more commuter-friendly, and provide an outlet for Adelaide's growing population.

More than 500,000 extra people would live in Adelaide in 30 years' time, they said; if a fast train persuaded some to move to the country instead, it would pay for itself.

"Adelaide's options for future growth are pushing up against her geographical constraints," they said.

"High-speed rail will enable Adelaide to connect to her hinterland, opening up opportunities for affordable regional living ... and (bringing) some of the best parts of South Australia to the city's doorstep."

The existing railway line from Adelaide to Mount Barker would need to be upgraded to accommodate trains capable of reaching 200 kilometres per hour, at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion.

From there, lines would be extended to Murray Bridge and, via Strathalbyn, to Goolwa and Victor Harbor.

The Murray Bridge extension – with stations at Monarto and Callington – might cost about $400 million and the south coast line $450 million, according to the proponents' rough calculations.

But the potential benefits make it worth investigating, say the Australian Conservatives, who will advocate for $500,000 to be spent developing a business case if they win the balance of power at the upcoming state election.

Conservatives MP Robert Brokenshire said the idea was long overdue.

"It is time that Adelaide and South Australia matured and put forward a project like this, which is the type of vision often shown by the eastern states," he said.

"South Australia is the only mainland state with no passenger rail service to regional areas and this affects jobs, impacts greatly on tourism and limits the potential of our great state."

The concept found another supporter in Liberal MP Adrian Pederick, who said he too had seen Mr Blandy and Mr Michell's presentation.

"It's almost a germ of an idea, but I think it's worth more exploration," he said.

SA Best candidate Kelly Gladigau agreed it was an initiative she would support, “but it’s going to need some major, major federal funding to get legs”.

The federal government committed $10 billion to a national rail program, from which the project could draw funding, in its 2017 budget.

The Standard has sought comment from Labor candidate Mat O'Brien.

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