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Albanese changes heart on high-speed rail

by Oliver Probert last modified Mar 13, 2013 12:06 PM
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In a dramatic turnaround, federal minister for transport and infrastructure Anthony Albanese has told several media outlets that building a high-speed rail network along Australia’s east coast would be costly and disruptive.

Albanese changes heart on high-speed rail

Albanese's recent comments on high speed rail are a slight change of tune from his confidence in 2011.

The minister has in the past been a firm supporter of the proposed HSR network on Australia’s east coast, linking population centres in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne.

“High-speed rail could be a game changer,” Albanese said in August 2011, when the first stage of the government’s strategic study into the proposal was released. “That’s why the Gillard Labor Government has put it back on the agenda.”

But last week, with stage two of that study to soon be released, Albanese changed his tune, indicating that noise and cost restraints could torpedo the plans.

“As a high-speed rail train passes, the noise level will reach 100 decibels,” Albanese was quoted in several media sources.

“The study I've commissioned into high-speed rail from Melbourne to Brisbane proposes a track that is 1,750km long,” he continued, referencing the threat extensive costs could pose to the plans. “Importantly, it includes over 144km of tunnelling, much of it in Sydney, which is the only way that a high-speed rail network can be built through a city such as Sydney … the high-speed rail has to go in a straight line.”

Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt took Albanese’s comments as an opportunity to remind the public that Australia and Antarctica are the only two continents without high-speed rail, saying that “if we leave it up to Labor, the penguins are going to beat us to it.”

The Greens party has long been an advocate of high-speed rail, due to its environmental benefits over air and road transport. The Greens also recently released a report suggesting the new network would present a $48bn benefit to the economy.

Australian Railway Association CEO Bryan Nye stressed the necessity of high speed rail in response to Albanese’s comments.

“Global experience shows that high speed rail would change dramatically Australia for the better, effectively bringing our cities and regions closer together,” he said.

“People want the new infrastructure but they tend to object to it for all sorts of different reasons, and we can't do that, Sydney needs new infrastructure desperately.

“It's not a dream, it's just a reality of when we get it.”

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Posted by Anonymous User at Mar 13, 2013 01:27 PM
Are the Greens trying to look stupid? How is a comparison to other continents an effective or realistic comparison? Population density, air traffic density, road traffic density are all effective tools for comparison if you want to spruik high speed rail.
Why aren't we discussing grade separated rail up overhead? It's got to be cheaper than $2m to $3m per metre of tunnelling. Too politically sensitive maybe?

Let's compare to the rest of the world and their cheaper labor, lower safety standards and ability to make nation building decisions irregardless of local political issues.


Posted by Anonymous User at Mar 14, 2013 10:13 PM
"Population density" - Australia as a whole is lowly populated but Melbourne-Brisbane corridor is about 12 million people - easily the capacity.
"Air traffic density" - MEL-SYD is one of the top 5 busiest routes in the world. A 1 hour HSR link from CBR is a viable alternative to the often talked about 2nd Sydney airport.


Posted by Anonymous User at Mar 21, 2013 04:45 AM
Get real guys. Even the Brits finally managed to get HS1 through Kent depsite its high population density. The SNCF run TGVs into all the major Paris terminals. I think both these places have a denser urbain environement than Australias cities. As for noise levels, you don't run at 300 kph into city centres... Cos you have to run over ordinary tracks for the last km. In any case you have to stop before you get to the buffers !
Cheaper labour - in France I doubt it!
Joking apart, you guys really should do this. But get it built by people who know what their doing and have been doing it a long time (forget the Chinese or the Spanish even if they are cheaper!). Time to get the guys from SNCF in, they know their stuff (they've been doing it for over 30 years already) and you'll be able to drink wine with them!