Mr. Anthony Albanese , the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, released the High speed rail study phase 2 report, 11 April 2013. This looked at the feasibility of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane being linked by high speed passenger trains. The report finds this technically feasible, with economic and environmental benefits, but media reports have concentrated on the high cost and long time scale of such a project. In my view the project would be politically and financially feasible if built in stages. The Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne sector could be politically justified by eliminating the need for a second Sydney airport and the treat of further aircraft noise over politically sensitive western Sydney electorates. The project could be funded from the sale of land in new "i-Towns" along the route.
Providing a high speed passenger train from Sydney to Canberra and Melbourne would eliminate most flights on one of the world's busiest aircraft corridors. This would free up slots at Sydney airport for other interstate and international flights. It would also allow Canberra to be the second Sydney airport.
Fast train access to regional Australia would allow the rapid development of new "i-Towns". This would relieve development pressure from Sydney and the sale of the developed land in the new towns would pay for the cost of the railway. The new towns would exploit broadband technology to the maximum, to make them attractive and also low cost to develop. Facilities such as an advanced hospital, university campus, offices and entertainment facilities would be integrated and on-line. The railway would provide rapid access to the city for services not available in town. The towns could be built at the same time as the railway, so that revinue from land sales would be avialabl;e quickly.
Sadly, the assumptions for the business case for adopting European style HSR don't hold up here.
Trains are readily available for sale in Japan and they could be easily brought here and tested. A set of three old Shenkasen I have seen for as little as $10M.
Instead of spending $15M to get them here, they spent $16M going on holiday to Europe for rides on the trains over there.
Money wasted and blown, with no tangible benefit.
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