High-speed rail a winner

28 Nov, 2012 06:51 AM

AN EAST-coast high-speed railway linking major cities would deliver more than $48 billion worth of benefits in its first 30 years.

Benefits would include boosting health and social services in regional communities and easing the burden on Melbourne's sprawling suburbs, the study says.

The study into the benefits of the rail link says $31 billion worth of "time savings" would be made through reduced car and air travel, with a further $11 billion saved by decreasing road congestion.

Commissioned by the Greens and authored by Naomi Edwards, a former partner at Deloitte, the report found that high-speed rail would be a powerful way to deal with the sharp rise in people settling 20 kilometres from the CBD.

It says Melbourne's 4 million residents would each be saved 2 hours and 20 minutes every year through reduced congestion and access to fast rail – it would also remove 9.8 million passenger trips in and out of Melbourne Airport in 2036.

The report found that by reducing cars on the road, Melburnians would save $30 million a year on accident costs – over the first 30 years of the railway the report estimates savings of $4.2 billion in accident costs across Australia.

"In addition to these monetary benefits, HSR will have enormous beneficial impacts on Melbourne's struggling first home buyers and commuters. HSR users will be able to live in Albury or Shepparton and commute on a daily basis to the Melbourne CBD," the report says.

"This will take pressure off Melbourne's straining outer suburbs, while also boosting regional economies."

High-speed rail is on the national agenda with the first phase of a government study estimating the line would cost between $60 billion and $110 billion depending on the route. The second phase is expected to be released by year's end.

Regional centres, specifically Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton, would benefit from the rail because it would provide better access to services in cities, and rebalance equality between regions and capitals.

"HSR opens the door for Australians to live in regional areas and commute to cities for work," the report says. "Regions die because of the lack of accessible employment within commuting distance, not because people do not enjoy the lifestyle."

A unionist on Tuesday described Australia's lack of high-speed railway lines as "criminal" and he said decades of politicians neglecting rail left the nation far behind the rest of the world.

Voters across the states cannot be blamed for being sceptical when politicians promise new rail lines, Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes said.

Speaking at the Australasian Railway Association's national conference in Canberra, Mr Howes said both conservative and Labor state governments had "made an art form" of promising new rail projects, only to later renege.

"Governments around the country announce, reannounce, tear up, redraw, replan and reannounce transport plans that are unfunded, uncosted, and due to start construction on the never-never," he said.

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Tim Lester
28/11/2012 7:33:12 AM

If it's such a good idea and big money spinner why doesn't a private business build it? Why force tax payers to pay for it?
28/11/2012 9:28:11 AM

We could have had this in the 1990s if the Hawke government had been sufficiently far sighted and agreed to the BHP proposal back then. It has always been economical, just needed a reasonable approach to depreciation for such a costly upfront project.
28/11/2012 9:39:47 AM

Spending $60- $110 billion on other resource projects that would allow development for agriculture would deliver 10 times of actual $$ what the suggested high speed rail would! We have to be smart about how we make investments for the future!
Ian Mott
28/11/2012 10:41:43 AM

Good, now lets line up all the Labor and Green voters to invest all their superannuation in this turkey of a project. This $48 billion worth of benefits over 30 years is only $1.6 billion a year. And forget the low end capital cost estimate of $60 billion, even the $100 billion figure is probably way off the mark. But for this $100 billion they think a non-cash return of only $1.6 billion a year is a good investment? Well, compared to pink batts, school sheds, water grids and desalination plants, I suppose it might appear that way. So go for it, lap it up you morons.
X Ag Socialist
29/11/2012 10:48:00 AM

Anthony Albanese tipped a bucket on this idea and I agree with him.
Ian Mott
29/11/2012 11:15:28 AM

Yes X ag, did the paper bother to consider how the airlines might respond to this competition. Have they checked out the airfares lately?
1/12/2012 9:44:10 AM

Tim, the simple answer is, because that is the cheapest option for the community. Significant infrastructure like this ought to be a nation building project, akin to the Snowy Hydro & done by Government. If private enterprise builds & operates it, they will do so in a way that maximises returnes to shareholders. (Just think Toll Roads, where they charge motorists for 30+ yrs, but the Tolls actually pay for the road in about 5-7 yrs) which means it will be more expensive for the user as private system. To think otherwise is naive.
2/12/2012 3:38:09 PM

Curious how Pott is unable to consider a project on its merits without (one) becoming rankly abusive and (two) invoking his obsessive ideology. Australia is not a magic pudding. Highway transport, like 19th century steam trains, is efficient enough for times gone by, but we have to develop an infrastructure which takes account of tomorrow's realities. Ideology is not a good guide to the future.


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Can't you boys find another playground to occupy? Same old punters, same old tired barbs and
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Another of the sacred scare stories comes undone for the agw
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He might well be a decent bloke Chick, however Jock is right on the money regarding Sterles