Actually… high speed rail is feasible for Australia

Criticism in recent days by a Melbourne think tank about the benefits, cost and viability of a High Speed Rail (HSR) project to link Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane appears a little off the rails.

26 May 2020

Criticism in recent days by a Melbourne think tank about the benefits, cost and viability of a High Speed Rail (HSR) project to link Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane appears a little off the rails.

In 2014 Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) released the seminal BZE High Speed Rail Plan report.

“The Beyond Zero Emissions’ High Speed Rail Report (2014) demonstrated that high speed rail between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would provide clean, efficient, affordable and comfortable transport that would reduce travel emissions and service 80% of Australia’s population who live along the east coast,” Eytan Lenko, BZE’s CEO said.

“This report was a serious effort, written in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute and the German Aerospace Centre.

“Our research demonstrated that such a project could be built in 10 years, be very well utilised and  profitable with twenty one stations between Melbourne and Brisbane connecting eleven regional centres, paving the way for development.

“Public coffers don’t need to fund 100% of this project – there are significant opportunities to split this with private capital,” he said.

“Our 2014 report detailed how 100% renewable energy powered HSR allows zero emissions journeys and that internationally, comparable HSR projects have been delivered in less than 10 years.

“Government commitment to large projects like High Speed Rail in Australia are also fundamental in generating demand for green steel, green concrete, and supporting crucial R&D in zero emissions technologies,” Mr Lenko said.

Gerard Drew, lead author of the BZE High Speed Rail Plan, pointed out that there are real questions to be answered about what Australia is choosing to spend its carbon budget on.

“We have a finite carbon budget to prepare for net zero emissions life in 2050, we can’t just flick a switch thirty years from now. If we are not budgeting our carbon for that future then we are truly wasting money,”  Mr Drew said.

“Many commentators point to the fact that Australia’s sparse population makes HSR uneconomical despite the evidence of travel activity, but they never acknowledge that our flat open landscape makes HSR much more affordable to build compared to the mountainous and congested comparison countries like Japan or Taiwan.

“The Melbourne to Sydney air route is the second busiest in the world,” Mr Drew said.

The 2014 Report: https://bze.org.au/research/transport/high-speed-rail-plan/

 

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