Home' Future Building: The Australian Infrastructure Review : December 2010 Contents High Speed Rail back on the agenda
The sense of urgency is particularly amplifed through the
report's estimate that the cost of acquiring the likely land corridor
is $13.7 billion at today's values, and will balloon to around $57
billion within 20 years.
In many parts of the world, business travellers and tourists have
taken to VFTs with considerable enthusiasm, demonstrated by
impressive patronage. The Sydney to Melbourne air route is one
of the busiest on the planet for business travellers, and Sydney is
Australia's main international gateway.
The IPA report discusses the long-standing debate about the
need for increased airport capacity in Sydney, and estimates that
the cost of developing a second airport for Sydney could be in the
order of $15 billion at today's values.
A VFT link to an existing airport, like Canberra or Newcastle,
could alleviate the need for a new airport in the Sydney basin.
An entire (eventual) east coast network could reduce the
demand for air travel between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
As the report states, 'Analysis undertaken for this report on the
proposed High Speed Rail corridor shows that at 350km/h, an
Australian High Speed Rail network would actively compete with
air travel on the east coast.'
A 350km/h service would deliver travel times of three hours
from Melbourne to Sydney, fve and a half hours from Melbourne
to the Gold Coast, one hour from Sydney to Canberra and less
than six hours from Melbourne to Brisbane. It could even link to
Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport, which would be a fve-minute trip
from the Melbourne CBD.
The report further observes that rail has gained market share
in many countries, to the extent that it directly competes with air
travel. As increased security requirements erode the time savings
of air travel, and emphasis on sustainability continues to grow,
High Speed Rail is regarded as the premier travel mode in Europe,
particularly in terms of upmarket passenger demographics, quality
of service and travel experience, industry image, and the nature of
direct links between major city centres.
Other countries are also steaming ahead. China is rapidly
building a new, national fast train network to service its rapidly
All around the world, High Speed Rail operations are well
and truly underway. The following projects are already slated for
• In China, the 1,376km Chengdu to Guangzhou link is due to
start running at 350km/h in 2014.
• In the USA, the 135km Tampa to Orlando line is due to start
operating at 300km/h in 2014.
• In Japan, the Aomori to Hokkaido link of 148km is due to start
running at 300km/h in 2015.
• In Germany, the 123km Erfut to Leipzig/Halle link is due to
start operating at 300km/h in 2016.
Some of the other proposed projects include the 518km São
Paulo to Rio De Janeiro link in Brazil, due to start operating in 2016
at 350km/h, and the 200km Kenitra to Tangier line in Morocco,
due to start running at 200 km/h in 2015. In California, Governor
Schwarzenegger has been looking to establish a VFT on the Los
Angeles to San Francisco route. And these are just the start of a
In supporting investigations into an Australian east coast VFT,
Minister for Infrastructure, Anthony Albanese, said 'The Government
welcomes this study into high-speed rail by Infrastructure Partnerships
Australia in conjunction with AECOM. What this report says is
that we need to look at preserving the corridor from Brisbane right
through to Melbourne in order to save costs for what is a long-term
vision for high-speed rail down the east coast of Australia.’
Andrew Robb, Shadow Minister for Finance, also responded
positively to the IPA/AECOM report, saying, 'Australia must avoid
the mistakes of the past where insuffcient long-term planning saw
the loss of land that should have been protected for rail and road
We have had a lot of time to study and learn from other nations.
The frst country to construct a dedicated High Speed Rail line was
Japan, with the introduction in 1964 of the Shinkansen, or bullet
train, connecting the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka.
The Shinkansen offered a quick and reliable alternative mode
of transport to air or road. The success of the Shinkansen in gaining
market share from air travel inspired European railways to follow
the same path.
Continued on page 22
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