AusRAIL, Market Sectors

ARA chairman Tanner critiques media?s HSR treatment

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> New Australasian Railway Association chairman Lindsay Tanner has criticised media coverage of the Federal Government’s recent high speed rail study, saying that the coverage “overlooked some crucial realities.” </span> <p>In a letter published in several major market newspapers, the former federal minister for finance and deregulation clarified the cost of the much-discussed high speed rail proposal.</p><p>“While the total cost would be very large, it would be spread over many years,” Tanner explained, “with total annual project capital expenditure ranging from $2-$8bn in the eight years prior to the Sydney-Canberra opening, and then $2-$7bn per year until the full network is operational.”</p><p>That spread of expenditure, Tanner explained, would allow for other projects, like the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel and the upgrade of the Bruce Highway, to still go ahead.</p><p>“The project is really about a future Australia, with a substantially higher population, different economic fundamentals, and very different transport needs,” he went on.</p><p>“The recently released study demonstrates that Australia has sufficient population for high speed rail. Our population is growing faster than most developed and many developing countries. With population growth comes more domestic travel.”</p><p>Travel on Australia’s east coast is forecast to reach 335 million trips each year by 2065, Tanner said.</p><p>“Our cities, highways and airports are congested now.</p><p>“While we cannot know precisely what the future will look like, it is clear that the passenger transport task is going to keep growing strongly, and that without new means of fulfilling that task, our system will become gridlocked.”</p><p>Tanner compared the capital expenditure to the $37.4bn of proposed investment in the national broadband network.</p><p>“For $23bn, high speed rail would link Sydney and Canberra with a travel time of 64 minutes,” he said.</p><p>“Another $26.9bn would extend the line to Melbourne.”</p><p>In contrast to Tanner’s comments, though, were those made by Aurizon chief executive Lance Hockridge at a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) lunch last week.</p><p>“In the railroad sector over the past few years we have seen a lifetime’s supply of nation-building proposals,” he said. “Alice to Darwin, Melbourne to Brisbane inland rail, and now the most courageous one of all, the $114 billion high-speed rail.”</p><p>“It’s nice to get visionary but Australia needs to get real,” he said.</p><p>“We have locked ourselves into a destructive mentality that says that because Australia is a wealthy country, then we should buy the shiniest car in the showroom.</p><p>“When considering greenfield corridors, let’s focus on resources, where Australia has a comparative advantage, rather than playing with European passenger ideas for a low-population, long distance geography like Australia.”</p><p>Hockridge instead favours an incremental approach to new technology.</p>