High speed rail linking Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would reduce carbon emissions and provide a profitable and popular service, according to research which will be released next week.

Climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) is launching the new report on the potential for high speed rail in Australia in Melbourne on Wednesday April 9, and Sydney on April 30.

According to BZE CEO Stephen Bygrave “the research shows that high speed rail can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, in addition to the regional development and economic benefits previously identified.”

The report, a collaboration between BZE, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, has been two years in the making.

The report recommends an alignment broadly similar to the government’s recent study, connecting 12 major regional towns, and the cities of Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

“Regional travel in Australia is highly concentrated in the east coast corridor, generating some of the busiest flight paths in the world as well as significant traffic on our main interstate highways”, says lead author, Gerard Drew.

One of the reasons Sydney Airport is facing capacity constraints is because it is shares two of the world’s busiest flight pairs, Sydney-Melbourne is number five and Sydney-Brisbane is number thirteen.

“For too long the discussion has been misled by concerns of low population density in Australia rendering HSR inappropriate for this country. The fact is much of Australia’s population is highly concentrated in the capital cities on the east coast and there is a high degree of travel between them by world standards”, Drew said.

“All this travel is increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels adding to Australia’s carbon footprint, and unfortunately it is doubtful that emissions free air travel will ever eventuate.”

“High speed rail runs on electricity, which means, unlike air travel, it can run on one hundred percent renewable energy. This is the prime motivation behind BZE’s recommendation of high speed rail”, says lead author, Gerard Drew.

“A high speed rail system on Australia’s east coast will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from regional travel in this busy corridor by almost 30%. On top of this high speed rail will continue to provide affordable, convenient and comfortable travel for Australians into the future without the uncertainty of fuel supply and price”, says Mr. Drew.

The report finds that:

  • High speed rail ticketing revenue could not only cover operational costs but also repay construction costs

  • 60% of Australia’s population live within 50km of a proposed high speed rail station

  • Comparable high speed rail projects around the world have been built in ten years or less

  • Greenhouse emissions from transport would be reduced by 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over 40 years of operation.

The report’s launch follows the introduction of a private member’s bill in Federal Parliament to establish a development authority charged with the reservation of land and further preparations ahead of the detailed design and construction work of the high speed rail system.

The BZE report will be launched at the Carillo Gantner Theatre, University of Melbourne, on April 9. A panel of speakers will discuss the technical, economic and social issues relating to high speed rail in Australia. The speakers include John Alexander OAM (Federal Member for Bennelong), Jenny Houlihan (Mayor of Shepparton), Phil Potterton (GHD) and Jean Jammet (SYSTRA).

For more details and to register for either event, go to www.bze.org.au/hsr-go.

For interviews, copies of the report, or any other information, contact the BZE office on (03) 9415 1301, Monday-Thursday




by@riding_red / April 9, 20149:45 PM PDT