Australia’s first high-speed railway could be completed 40 years earlier than originally thought and $30 billion cheaper, a new report has suggested.
Looking at similar projects around the world, a new study from the climate change thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has concluded that a 1,799-kilometre high-speed line between Melbourne and Brisbane could be constructed by 2025.
Not only could the route be completed much earlier, it could be built much cheaper. BZE, in collaboration with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, estimated that the line could be constructed for $84 billion, including infrastructure costs, new rolling stock, project management and contingency
Last year, the Australian government published its own report in which it predicted that the line, which would connect Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne along the east coast, would be fully operational by 2065 and cost in the region of $114 billion.
The new report, which has taken two years to complete, estimates that the line would generate $7 billion in fare revenue. Significant operating profit would mean capital costs would be repaid after 40 years.
High-speed rail would reduce journey times from the centre of Sydney, to Melbourne or Brisbane to less than three hours.
The report’s lead author, Gerard Drew, said: “Regional travel in Australia is highly concentrated in the east coast corridor, generating some of the busiest flight paths in the world as well as significant traffic on our main interstate highways.
“For too long the discussion has been misled by concerns of low population density in Australia rendering HSR inappropriate for this country. The fact is much of Australia’s population is highly concentrated in the capital cities on the east coast and there is a high degree of travel between them by world standards.
“All this travel is increasingly dependent on imported fossil fuels adding to Australia’s carbon footprint, and unfortunately it is doubtful that emissions free air travel will ever eventuate.”
“High-speed rail runs on electricity, which means, unlike air travel, it can run on one hundred percent renewable energy. This is the prime motivation behind BZE’s recommendation of high-speed rail.”