A consortium has launched a bid to build a high-speed rail link in Australia, connecting Melbourne and Sydney, the respective state capitals of Victoria and New South Wales.

The ambitious proposal, from the private group Clara, is set to cost in the region of AU$ 200 billion (US$ 149.6 billion) , but the company says no government funding will be required, as financing will come from increases in local land values when a proposed eight new ‘smart’ cities are built along the route.

Clara’s chairman, Nick Cleary, estimates land bought for AU$ 1,000 (US$ 750) could be sold for up to AU$ 150,000 (US$ 112,000), once housing and civil infrastructure is in place.

Along with a cut in journey times between the two state capitals – to under three hours, including smart city stops – Clara is promoting the much-discussed notion of decentralisation, with Sydney and Melbourne combined currently housing 46% of the entire Australian population.

Clara is working with the likes of GE, Aecom, RMIT, CSIRO, SGS Planning & Economics and Willis Towers Watson along with USA based financial advisors to develop its plan.

With the backing also of two former state premiers and a recently-retired senior federal minister – as well as the recent announcement of support from Australia’s current prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull – Clara claims the first stage of the new cities will be ‘online’ within the next ten years.

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