Friday, August 13, 2010

Cross your fingers but don't hold your breath.

Forget the Melbourne to the airport rail link. I will if you will. It will not be as necessary if below is built.

What we need is a high speed train to connect our large population capital cities, stopping at large regional cities along the way. Here is my suggestion and no nonsense about it running on existing tracks or going via the east coast. It needs to be new and dedicated track but can still follow alignments. It needs to go where the people are. Start Melbourne, next stop Seymour, next Albury/Wodonga, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Trip time Melbourne to Sydney from a central point, about four hours, extremely competitive against a one hour ten minute flight from our major airport on the outskirts of Melbourne and in a lot more comfort.

Is Australia going to be the last continent in the world to have a high speed train?

Argentina, 300 km/h
China, 430 km/h
Europe, 320 km/h
England, 300 km/h
Japan 300 km/h
Taiwan 300 km/h
Russia 250 km/h
Turkey 250 km/h
United States even, 240km/h

And good ole Oz, she'll be right mate, 160 km/h, except the track between Melbourne and Sydney is busted, and so no trains are running for the foreseeable future.

Now what would you pay to use a high speed train from Melbourne to Sydney return, or vice-versa?

Use me as an example. Many have.

The quickest I can get to Sydney. Leave home at 10.45 by taxi, half hour trip and some allowance for traffic congestion. Arrive airport 11.15 for a noon flight. Arrive Sydney 1.15. Train to centre of Sydney, maybe 45 minutes including wait time, 2.00. Personally I would have left home earlier to allow extra time for coffee or delays. You can say the trip took 4 hours, exactly the same as a high speed train would take with only time to get to the city high speed train station to add, say 30 mins to be safe. If I were to drive and use the long term car park at the airport, add another 30 mins and we are getting up near 5 hours by air.

Cost, airfare maybe $90 if I bought a ticket at a special price. Taxi to airport, $70, train ticket from Sydney airport to the city, maybe $20. Add on cost for high speed train, only the cost of a tram ticket to the city, $3. Total for flight, $180 or return $360.

Canberra could be Sydney's second airport, one hour away by high speed train. It can take that long to get to Sydney City from the airport on a busy Friday night.

To go in comfort by high speed train, I reckon I would pay $400 return and arrived un-stressed and in a good and happy relaxed mood, the opposite of how I feel when I arrive by air.

Will it make a profit? Who cares. It is public transport, convenient for the public.

How would it be funded? Nowadays, via a Public Private scheme I suppose.

I have deleted it and so I can't refer back to it, but Jayne sent me a clip of a parliamentary proposal from the early 1900s where the government was looking to expand Victoria's railways by borrowing £1,000,000. That's a million pounds if you can't read the old currency. Imagine how much £1,00,000 of 1910 currency is in today's dollars.

The first Shinkansen, bullet train, ran in Japan in the early 1960s. The bureaucrats knew it would cost more than parliament had been told, but they weren't concerned as they knew once the people used the train, there would be no going back.

Now the vested interests. Who won't like the idea? Airlines of course, taxis, airport buses, Sydney airport to city train, City Link, Vic Roads, airport owners, road builders. But whole new businesses will spring up to service the high speed train.

That we have to put up with bastard air travel when we could travel on a comfortable train is disgraceful compared to what the rest of the world has done or is doing. I could do some environmental impact searching, but that is enough for now.

The first Japanese Shinkansen, 1962, by Daniel G.


  1. To start at Geelong, and then up to Melbourne.

    Would take a lot of pressure off the capital cites, people could live in, say, Seymour and easily commute to Melbourne.

    So long as I was just going for a weekend and didn't have to check luggage in, I used to do Sydney to Melbourne door to door in 3 1/2hrs, would get the local bus from Bronte to the airport, met by the parents at Tulla, and out to Blacky South on the freeway.

  2. Another potential benefit from bullet stlye trains is the possibility of increased decentralisation with population shifts to the intermediate locations.

    Apparently the evidence for this is precedent in other countries following the introduction of these trains.

  3. Good idea Ian. Do you know steam trains were faster between Geelong and Melbourne that the present train, which will be even longer when it goes via Tarneit, wherever that is. When was the last time your did that trip Ian? The flight is now 1.10 and not 1.00 as it used to be and oh the traffic congestion, at both ends.

    Interesting Victor. Seymour as I suggested as a stop is fairly small and close to Melbourne. To travel to other large places in Victoria such as Shepparton or Bendigo is very out of the way. In your state, perhaps Golburn could be added. I think it is already growing.

  4. Speaking of seem to be having a few high profile killings....Isn't Lygon St the one with heaps of Italian restaurants?

  5. It is KN. We observe the happenings with with fascination.

  6. 2004 was the last time I took that trip

  7. There was a comparison made a few months ago with trains in 1950s to today - back then it was (approx. from memory, not saying this is accurate) about 9 mins between trains, each station was manned, everyone had tickets, there were barely any delays and the station toilets were always open.
    Today it's 12 mins or longer between trains, ticket evasion is rife cos not every station is manned, delays are more common than trains and you're lucky to find a station toilet open anywhere.

  8. Except for the inevitable wait in the rail yards before pulling into Flinders Street Jayne.

  9. Anonymous8:31 am

    I can't see the high speed train happening anytime soon. Today's governments have no foresight and are only in it for a quick fix and their super payouts.

  10. Probably right Anon. As Japan's wasn't, it doesn't have to be all done at once. A start would be good.