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News & Views from the RTBU NSW Locomotive Division

Hot topic: High speed rail

Feb 23, 2017Hot Topic

As part of a recent opinion piece in the Newcastle Herald, Shadow Minister for infrastructure Anthony Albanese wrote:

“We should also expedite progress on the proposed high speed rail link from Brisbane to Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra. High speed rail would turbo-charge travel between capital cities on the east coast, while offering new opportunities for regional centres along its path including Newcastle. It would provide real opportunities for companies to base their operations in Newcastle, as well as shortening commuting times to Sydney.

In 2013 the former Labor Government allocated $50 million to create a high speed rail authority to start securing the corridor for the line. The incoming Coalition Government scrapped that funding and, almost four years later, has done nothing to advance the project.”

We’d love to hear your thoughts on high speed rail – what are the benefits, what could go wrong, and how could a high speed rail line be integrated with existing transport links in regional NSW?

Leave a comment below!

5 Comments to “Hot topic: High speed rail”

  • High Speed rail between capital cities in Australia is something long over due.
    The current methods for arriving between these areas are riddled with other transport factors such as existing road and rail infrastructure.
    Getting easy access to our other cities has been a problem for over 200 years and having a train to drop you right into town is a dream everyone has when they arrive at a major airport.
    The big problem now is corridor access to install new lines.
    Even the poorly thought out metro is going to severely impact on existing infrastructure.
    High speed would need to run under our 1900’s overhead voltage until it could escape to run on it’s own track and AC voltage which is not a problem but more of a design concern.
    High speed is not a new issue or idea with it being trotted out for at least 30 years and no one wiling to dip into the back pocket and fund it.
    Infrastructure spending and the employment it would generate is a great pricer to pay for going into debt. The biggest issue is, getting a well tracked company to run it as the state governments can’t arrange a church raffle let alone run a high speed railway.

  • Travel to Europe and everywhere is high speed rail. It will open up the hinterland to new communities as well to new industry for country areas. (thats if we dont sell out everything to the Chinese). The project could be constructed in stages. The land between Melbourne and Wagga is fairly good. From Wagga to Sydney its a bit different. The NBN could be sold when finished and the money go to High Speed Rail The Polies will never do it because it is common sense.

  • At the moment, high speed rail is totally unviable from an economic viewpoint. Recent estimates for the cost of a high speed rail line from Sydney to Melbourne, stand at $200bn. The Federal government is in debt, don’t forget, so they would not be a contender here. If a private concern was to build the line, what period of time would be required for them to recoup the cost, not taking into account other aspects such as depreciation, maintenance, repairs, upgrades, write-offs, etc? What level of patronage would be required, per journey, to make each trip viable for the company? How much would each fare cost? Could they compete with the airlines? There is no comparison to be made of rail systems in Europe as those in Europe operate under totally different demographics to that of Australia. Populations are higher and denser and cities are located much closer together than those in Australia. Europe has high levels of passenger patronage owing to those higher levels of population, thus European rail systems are profitable to operate. Freight is profitable in Australia; passenger cartage is not and there is no proposal for high-speed freight services in Australia (even the Europeans don’t have that!). We need to remember that Australia is slowly winding down – jobs, manufacturing, etc; are leaving the country in droves. We import the vast majority of our technology, which leaves us at the mercy of local and international political swings and turns as well as that of fluctuating currencies. No political party has yet stated as to what alternatives are in place to cater for those who are added to the ranks of the unemployed, on a virtual daily basis. Taxation revenues are falling as a jobs disappear. Before we start speaking of grandiose plans such as high speed rail and inland cities, Australia needs to become profitable, efficient and reliable again and to be free of high debt with a little or no dependency on borrowings. Unless we are prepared to head down that road, so to speak, high speed rail and similar proposals will remain just unrealistic proposals contained in the minds of dreamers…

  • You only have to see how the Liberals have stuffed up the cost of the light rail by half a billion to know that they should have no hand in such a big and important project, wait until Albanese has the portfolio again and we should press our case

  • I am a former member of the RTBU who lost his role while our Premier was Transport Minister a few years back which saw a lot of qualified and experience staff leave the New South Wales, Sydney Rail System. Skills and experience that took years to obtain and cannot be easily replaced. In my case it was 36 years. On LinkedIn I have been involved in groups looking at the issue of Hi Speed Rail along the east coast. My LinkedIn profile is this LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/pub/mark-brady/64/959/996 The article I published in LinkedIn is this: HIGH SPEED PASSENGER RAIL LINKING SYDNEY, CANBERRA AND MELBOURNE. IS IT NOW REALLY POSSIBLE? It was published on October 17 last year. I seem to think it was opportunities lost since the 1980s. Brisbane to Sydney is not as viable as a southern route. It is all dependent on the Inland Freight infrastructure being sorted out. Please feel free to look at this and comment. I have taken information from Track and Signal and have given credit to the author.

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