It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … No it’s the South Coast Train

Artist Impression of an Illawarra MagLev

Artist Impression of an Illawarra MagLev

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It would appear that Labor trots this policy out each election and then condemns it to the too hard basket. In this campaign the party has turned to this policy very recently, perhaps with the emergence of the “Real” Julia. This is evidenced by Greens leader Bob Brown who has said that Labor voted down a Greens High Speed Rail proposal within the last few months and adds:

“Labor’s changed its policy because it’s seen the polling on this which shows a huge majority of Australians – over 70 per cent – want high-speed rail.” – $20m study considers fast train

Personally I believe that the need for Australia to lower it’s reliance on carbon emitting vehicles needs to be a major factor here. Surely there is enough science out there now to put some figures around the cost to the environment of running cars versus a high speed train. This could then be translated to some dollar amount and thus expressed as a cost to the economy. It would have a much truer meaning if K Rudd had managed to set up an emission trading scheme or carbon tax, but thats a moot point now.

Also, I think the study should look at how many commuters are utilising the existing slow links either by car, bus or train. Then calculating a cost to the commuters based on an average wage. I know I lose thousands of dollars worth of my time sitting on the existing network on my 6 hour daily commute. That is a real cost to the community as people sitting on a long journey are not productive citizens. This cost needs to be accounted for.

Through adding these two factors to any study the economics of rail may be swayed and Australia may finally see the beginning of a true phase shift in public transport. I though will continue to live in hope that one day my commute can be slashed.

Note: Oliver Hartwich from the Centre for Independent Studies has also highlighted CityRail’s management efforts with the comment:

“I think what we should do is really take it one step at a time, talk about Sydney-Newcastle, make that connection better, make it more comfortable and make it faster.
It used to be faster in the 1930s. I mean that’s a scandal.” – $20m study considers fast train

I am hopeful that CityRail will not be involved in any manner with a project of this magnitude.


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