Monday, March 15, 2010

Bad Australia

Adelaide had and extensive tram system but most of it was closed except for the line from the city to Glenelg. We took a trip on the Glenelg tram in eighties. It was fun. The tram line at the city end has been extended, new trams bought and it was overwhelmed by new travellers. The line has been further extended and with more success and more new trams bought. Build it in the right place and the people will come.

Both Brisbane and Sydney built railway lines from the centre of their cities to their international airports. In both cases, in spite of high fares, the people came. Brisbane city to airport train is profitable. I am not sure about Sydney. I would suggest that the high prices for train travel compared to normal suburban train travel deters some people. Just as well perhaps, as I think they would be overwhelmed.

Jayne sent me a link about a plan for a cable car to Mount Wellington from Hobart. If it is discreet, I think it would be great. A decade or less ago Hobart had plans to build a tram line in their fair city. It would have travelled exactly where people wanted to go, the waterfront and to Salamanca (I should check this bit of information. I am just going by memory). Provisions were made for the tram, but it was cancelled. You can see where the tracks were to go, the spaces filled in with rubber. I thought I had a photo of them, but I can't find the non-digital photo. Fool Hobart.

Bendigo is a nice enough place and it has remnant historic tram system. There was a proposal to extend the tram, but the locals put the kibosh on it. Fool Bendigo.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars have been spent on the West Gate Freeway and I imagined that the work, of which the plan seemed quite sound to me, would have reduced congestion on Queens Road and Kingsway. I cannot see why not, but it hasn't. If anything, it is worse. Build them a road and they will come.

A couple of years ago we travelled by train from London to Paris in 2.15 hours. High speed trains are the norm in Europe. Almost unbelievable speeds of trains are being achieved in China between major cities, departing and arriving right into the heart of the cities. They are planning for high speed trains to Singapore and Europe.

So, how is Melbourne going in the race for high speed rail transport?

Not terribly well, I am afraid. We don't have a fast train or even a slow one to the airport and there are no plans for one. You can get a bus though and it is expensive. It just travels on normal roads so if there is road problem, you will be stuck in traffic.

I have heard that one of the busiest airline routes in the world is between Sydney and Melbourne. Ah, the airports are some 20 km from Melbourne City and 10km from Sydney City respectively. Don't quote me on that, but really, why don't we have a high speed train from Melbourne to Sydney terminating at Southern Cross Station and Central.

I will suggest that a fast train from Melbourne City to the airport would be very popular and pay its way. I will further suggest that a high speed train between Melbourne and Sydney such as the Chinese are building would be overwhelmed with the number of people who prefer to use it in preference to flying. Just by being there would create it its own train traffic. I would go to Sydney more often if it wasn't for having to deal with airports.

It is all very well to blame politicians, but other countries have politicians too, just as short term focused and vote watching as ours, yet these other countries are actually doing things. There must be something wrong with Australia and Australians.

Update: An interesting piece I just came across at The Age online, My Kingdom for a Train.


  1. I would travel by train to Sydney, that is for sure! I would be able to see friends more often than every second year..that is if it is at a good price. What convenience it would be :)

  2. I'm sorry Andrew, the chances of such a thing being owned by Richard Branson are just too high to consider it. If you think his planes are bad, wait until you experience his trains.



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    Gee golly gosh, we bloggers are SO helpful to spammers trying to get educate themselves into a better life.

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  4. Meet you in Sydney at the Taxi Club Cazzie.

    Pants, without doubt it would be privately run. The best we could hope for is that the hard gear is government owned. My Brit rail experience was very positive....ah but minimal with one county train trip, Eurostar and the Tube.

    I'd give it a fail LS, but what are these spams about with no obvious link? Are they testing for a live site?

  5. You have come to the same conclusion about Australia and Australians that I have. We like to put barriers up to stop any good idea getting up. If a good idea does go ahead we seem to out of our way to find the most difficult and expensive way to achieve it. It is so frustrating to watch idea after idea get cannibalised and botched. Then when the project is "finished" the politician with the cheesy grin who cuts the ribbon has the gall to say how wonderful it is.

  6. Media influence whips up scare-mongering for any new fangled idea that 'COULD NOT possibly be of BENEFIT to anyone'... except that minority group those lefties are pandering to down in the eastern suburbs who secretly belong to the Communist party so ban this new development immediately or there'll be OMG! Reds under Beds again!

  7. In Portland, Oregon USA, our light rail MAX train goes from City Centre & neighbrhoods right into the terminal at PDX (our airport) for $2.

    We are blessed with superior public transportaion system & a beautiful & functual airport... still, i would trade it all to live in Australia.

  8. "I imagined that the work, of which the plan seemed quite sound to me, would have reduced congestion on Queens Road and Kingsway."

    These things never do. You build a road to ease congestion and within twelve months that one's full as well. So you build another and that fills up. City planners never learn. The only way to get rid of traffic is to shut the existing roads off really.

  9. Ben, 'find the most difficult and expensive way to achieve it' is so so true. We constantly have to reinvent the wheel, at great expense.

    Jayne, you whistle and I will point to a certain commercial radio station and I will guess one that hasn't opened yet.

    That sounds marvellous Stephen. Portland must be a bit special. I am sure there are things about the US you would miss terribly.

    Shutting roads won't happen Brian, but congestion does keep a lid on traffic.

  10. Anonymous4:08 pm

    Tee Hee, I think my membership has long expired :(

  11. Americans built a rocket and went to the moon! Smart huh?

  12. Well Ian, there were benefits from their research and inventions, but I think the trip itself was quite pointless.

  13. Weren't they talking about this ages ago???

  14. Comes up every so often MC, and then nothing happens.