Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to provide A$52m ($47m) to set up a rail authority to build a high-speed rail line between Sydney and Melbourne by 2035.

The high-speed rail authority will finalise rail alignment and station locations, and develop a business case for the project in collaboration with Infrastructure Australia.

The allocated amount will also enable the authority to conduct market testing to refine the project’s costs and construction timetables.

The proposed rail project, which would eventually stretch from Brisbane on Australia’s east coast to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, is expected to cost A$114bn ($103bn).

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The first phase of the project, linking Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra and the regional towns of Wagga Wagga, Albury/Wodonga and Shepparton, is expected to be completed by 2035 and would cost A$23bn ($20.7bn).

Upon completion, the journey between the two cities is expected to take two hours and 44 minutes, compared with the current travel time of about 11 hours by rail.

"The high-speed rail authority will finalise rail alignment and station locations, and develop a business case for the project in collaboration with Infrastructure Australia."

The Sydney to Canberra link is expected to be operational from 2030, with the entire high-speed rail project expected to be completed by 2058.

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The second phase of the line between Sydney and Brisbane will be built via the Central Coast and Newcastle.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said that as a first step the government will enact legislation this year, if re-elected, to preserve the 1,748km corridor on which the track would be laid.

"This high-speed rail network, connecting our three largest cities and the national capital, forms part of federal Labor’s plan to support jobs beyond the China mining boom," Albanese and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a joint statement.

Following completion, the rail link is expected to be used by around 83.6 million passengers a year and reduce pressure on the country’s air network by about 40% on major routes.