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Study: High-speed rail system in 'demand'

3AW News Talk

A new study has found the proposed high-speed rail system between Melbourne and Brisbane is more commercially viable than the government has revealed.

A two-year analysis by Beyond Zero Emissions found that a 1,799km rail system between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane could be built within 11 years at a cost of $84bn, $30bn less than previous government estimates.

Research director Gerard Drew told Tom Elliott the rail was now a real possibility.

“It gets more real the longer that we neglect the infrastructure that we need in this country,” he said.

“The high-speed rail is one important component, as we’ve witnessed, the growing congestion in our airports as well as our cities … is the effect of just concentrating on the development of population growth in just a few pockets of our country.”

LISTEN IN FULL: Gerard Drew says the system needs vision

Mr Drew said there was too much confusion between population density and actual travel.

He said their comprehensive research revealed an “enormous demand” for the high-speed rail system.

“It comes down to a bit of vision really,” he said.

“This is something that would be completely transformational for Australia.”

East coast high speed rail is financially viable

ABC News

A report has found a high-speed rail network connecting Australia's major cities, including Newcastle, would be able to turn a profit.

The study by think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions, the German Aerospace Centre and the University of Melbourne has recommended a network joining 18 cities and regional centres on the east coast.

It says the network could be built for $84 billion, that is $30 billion less than estimated in a previous study.

All on board the high speed train

Sara Phillips, ABC Environment

Conditions have never been so favourable for high speed rail to gather the support it needs to start rolling out some tracks.

WOULDN'T IT BE WONDERFUL to be able to step on a train at Southern Cross in Melbourne and step off at Central Station in Sydney just three hours later. On the train would be WiFi, so you could do some work or update your Facebook status (I'm travelling at 300km/h!). You could maybe pop into the dining car for a cuppa around Albury-Wodonga. All this for less than the cost of an airfare, fewer greenhouse gases, and of course, without the associated taxis to and from the airport and waiting times at the airport.

Ah, high speed rail. Australia has fantasised about it for decades. But despite general enthusiasm for the idea somehow it's never quite made it into reality.

The principal reason in the past has been cost. Successive governments or private consortia have done the maths and got cold feet.

But the latest offering from environmental think tank Beyond Zero Emissions claims that high speed rail can be built in Australia at less cost than others have estimated, with a payback time of 40 years.

High-speed rail from Melbourne to Brisbane could be completed by 2025

Two-year study says 1,799km rail system could be built for $84bn, $30bn less than previous estimates

Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Wednesday 9 April 2014

A high-speed rail network stretching from Melbourne to Brisbane could be completed by 2025, costing $30bn less than previous government estimates, a new study has found.

The two-year analysis, compiled by climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, found that a 1,799km high-speed rail system could be built between Melbourne and Brisbane, via Canberra and Sydney, within 11 years at a cost of $84bn.

The project would generate $7bn of operating revenue in the year 2030, the report found, despite tickets being cheaper than air travel. This means the scheme’s initial outlay would be repaid by 2040.

Fly by rail: 5 reasons fast trains have an Aussie future

By Stephen Bygrave, Climate Spectator

What goes up must come down. At least in the case of airplanes, that's true. But as airplanes keep going up, so do greenhouse gas emissions – these emissions stay in the atmosphere and do not come down.

High speed rail, on the other hand, is on the up and up, and can run without contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Europe has had high speed rail since the 1960s. China, Japan and Korea all have high speed rail. India has this year announced it is investigating the feasibility of building high speed rail.

Click to book your free seat at the Melbourne launch on April 9


Australian governments have for over 30 years toyed with the idea of building a high-speed rail line on the east coast, and there are finally moves underway to set aside the corridor in which a system could be built. This follows the previous federal government’s $20 million high speed rail implementation study which found a significant economic benefit to Australia returning $2.30 for every $1 invested.

Think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions has just completed a two-year study into HSR in Australia which shows that rail can not only dramatically reduce transport emissions, but also be built for $30 billion less than the most recent government study.

McArdle 'plain wrong' on energy says Howard adviser

By Bill Hoffmann, Sunshine Coast Daily

THE architect of the Howard Government's Renewable Energy Target has dismissed as just plain wrong claims by Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle that it was a handbrake on the Australian economy.

Stephen Bygrave, now head of Beyond Zero Emissions, said Mr McArdle was also wrong in his claims that the contribution of renewable energy during the recent Victorian heatwave was very unreliable. 

Mr McArdle yesterday issued a press release claiming the days of Queenslanders subsidising energy sources that "were not commercially viable" should be declared over by an Abbott Government panel that will review the Renewable Energy Target.

It was seen as a direct assault on renewable energy strategies of successive past federal governments.

Just under 28% of all homes in his Caloundra electorate have solar panels on their roofs, the highest rate of take up in the state and one of the highest in Australia.

Solar thermal is coming. But where will it land?

By Stephen Bygrave. Climate Spectator, January 30 2014.

With the news that Chile is to join the solar thermal club, Australia could before long become the only inhabited continent without this revolutionary electricity generation technology.

Spanish developer Abengoa is set to build a large solar thermal 'power tower' with a capacity of 110 megawatts for the Chilean government. Solar thermal plants already exist or are actively being developed and constructed, on all other continents.

The solar thermal technology concentrates the sun's free energy with a field of mirrors onto a heat receiver mounted on a central tower, and then uses that heat to generate electricity, and also stores the heat to generate electricity after sundown. The Chilean plant is to have storage capacity for 17.5 hours of operation after sundown, enabling it to provide 24-hour solar power.

That a poorer country like Chile is now building this technology highlights that a wealthy country like Australia should also be building this technology. Figures from the Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics in December show the estimated cost of building solar thermal power plants has fallen 30 per cent in the last year.

Abengoa's 183MW Solucar complex, Seville, Spain. Pic: Abengoa

ARENA, Alinta agree funds for Port Augusta solar thermal study

By Giles Parkinson. RenewEconomy, 15 January 2014

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has finally come to an agreement with the privately-owned Alinta to co-fund a feasibility study into a solar thermal power station to augment or replace the existing coal fired generators in the South Australian township of Port Augusta.

ARENA announced on Wednesday it would contribute $1million to the study, with $1.2 million to come from Alinta and a further $123,000 from the state government.

However, the study would not conclude until 2016, which may dash hopes for an earlier start to the project and a near-term replacement for the ageing Playford and Northern coal-fired power stations. Alinta recently said it wanted to extend the life of its two coal fired power stations for another two decades.

Ivanpah solar thermal plant, California. Pic: Chad Ward/Brightsource

Renewable energy facts undermine fossil-fuelled opinion

By Trent Hawkins. Yes2Renewables, January 24 2013.

The right wing war on renewables is heating up as the Abbott government announces yet another investigation into wind energy and health and a review of the Renewable Energy Target.

Australian Financial Review (23 Jan) featured an opinion article by Alan Moran from the climate change denying think tank the Institute of Public Affairs criticizing renewable energy. Moran argued that the performance of solar and wind during the recent heatwave in southeast Australia proves the technology’s unreliability. It seems neither Moran or AFR made any attempt to check the facts behind his opining.

Trent Hawkins

Port Augusta solar thermal plans in limbo as inquiry falls flat

By Sophie Vorrath. RenewEconomy, December 19 2013.

South Australians calling for the development of solar thermal power in Port Augusta – to replace the region’s aging coal power stations – have been left disappointed, after a Select Committee set up to investigate the merits of the proposed development failed to offer a clear mandate.

The Repowering Port Augusta proposal, put together by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), details a plan to replace the Alinta Energy Northern and Playford B coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta with concentrating solar thermal plant.

In its interim report, just released, the Committee said it “considers the health of the Port Augusta community to be a very significant factor in support of BZE’s Repowering Port Augusta proposal.” But while the report leaves open the possibility of CST, it doesn’t go so far as to recommend a speedy path to implementation.

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