High Speed Rail Trains Around the World: Except Australia

By 2013 Australia will be in the embarrassing position of being left behind by Africa and South America as the only inhabited continent on this planet without any true high speed 200 km/hr+ rail services.

Europe

Europe has the best network of high speed trains in the world. On the London-Paris route, Eurostar boasted 70 per cent of traffic last year and this is climbing fast.

At speeds of up to 320 kilometres/hour, high-speed trains are often the fastest way to travel between city centres in Europe. If the distance travelled is less than 1000 kilometres, a train travelling at 300 km/hr has the edge over flying, city centre to city centre.

As an example, Air France has watched over the past decade as SNCF’s Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) has eroded its domestic business. Air services between Paris and Lyons and between Paris and Brussels have been suspended. The train is dominating traffic to Marseilles and Geneva and the new line east to Strasbourg will quickly extinguish air links.

Furthermore the new Railteam consortium will make travelling on the European rail network easier and more seamless.

Railteam is a collaboration between Europe’s leading high-speed rail operators, currently DB (Germany), SNCF (France), Eurostar UK LTD (UK), NS Hispeed (Netherlands), ÖBB (Austria), SBB (Switzerland) and SNCB (Belgium), as well as their high-speed subsidiaries Thalys, Lyria and the DB/SNCF cooperation between France and Germany, with more train operators possibly joining in the future.

TGV high speed train
TGV high speed train photo credit: Sebastian Terfloth

North America

The Acela Express is Amtrak’s high speed tilt train for north-eastern USA. It is a distant relative of the French TGV high speed trains, because TGV builder Alstom participated in the consortium that designed and built the Acela Express. However, despite its appearance it is misleading to describe the Acela Express as a type of TGV. While the two may look similar at first sight, they have very few components in common.

Outside of stations, Acela runs at speeds between 120 km/hr (75 mph) and 241 km/hr (150 mph), depending on track conditions. On average this makes the Acela Express significantly slower than most other high-speed trains elsewhere in the world.

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Africa

In Africa the trendsetter is Morocco which has signed up to build a high-speed TGV train link between Tangiers & Casablanca, with the first stage open for use by 2013.

South America

Argentina will be the first country in South America to operate 300 kilometre/hour high speed trains.

The new Argentinean fast trains will be based on the French TGV and they’ll operate on a dedicated 710km high speed line between Buenos Aires and Córdoba.

Next Generation TGV: AGV

Meanwhile the creators of the TGV, the French engineering company Alstom have built the prototype for the next generation TGV, one that will be even faster.

Called the AGV (Automotrice à Grande Vitesse), this new train will have a cruising speed of 360 kilometres/hour which is 40 km/hr faster than the current TGV

Asia

With very dense city centres such as Tokyo and a huge population, Japan was one of the first countries to realise the problems of mass transport via cars.

The Shinkansen aka “Bullet train” could be thought of as the worlds first high speed train. Services started in 1964 with speeds of 210 km/hr, the fastest trains went at the time, and many countries eg: Australia still don’t have any trains running at this speed.

At the time the concept of “high speed” wasn’t really established as it is now. Indeed many say it was the success of the bullet trains which lead to Europe taking interest in making trains go fast. Since then the trains have been going faster and faster.

Korea Train eXpress (KTX) is South Korea’s high-speed rail system. It is operated by Korail. The train’s technology is largely based on the French TGV system, and has a top speed of 350 km/h, limited to 300 km/h during regular service for safety.

China has realised the importance of high-speed train travel and is investing huge amounts to increase its high speed rail network. In the 10 years from April 1997 when speeds of 40-50km/h were the norm to April 2007, Chinese railway authority has raised the maximum speed six times.

By 2020 China aims to construct 12,000 km of special high speed train lines running at 200 km/hr or more.

Meanwhile, the 1,318-km Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway, on which construction began in January, is expected to be finished by 2013.

With an estimated investment of 160 billion yuan (23.3 billion U.S. dollars), it’s the largest and most expensive engineering project China has ever embarked upon and will cut travel time between China’s capital and the country’s leading financial hub in 1/2 to five hours while doubling the existing passenger capacity to 160 million passengers annually.

Australia’s Ancient & Abysmally Slow Train/Rail System

In contrast Australian trains are abysmally slow. The iconic Indian-Pacific takes 18.5 hours to travel between Sydney and Broken Hill, a distance of 1100 kilometres (at an average speed, including stops of 60 km/hr).

Australia’s fastest train, the Electric Queensland Rail Tilt Train from Brisbane to Cairns only has a top operational speed of 160 km/h.

Since the early 1980s, when high speed rail services in France received considerable publicity, there have been many failed plans to introduce high speed train services to Australia.

The largest of these schemes was a plan to construct and operate a line between Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. This scheme was backed by BHP, Elders IXL, Kumagai Gumi, and TNT – the Very Fast Train ‘Joint Venture’ but was abandoned in 1991, primarily because it failed to secure tax changes from the Federal Government that the consortium claimed would have made it financially viable.

The TGV design was supposed to be used for the later Australian Speedrail project, an ambitious plan to operate 320 km/hour trains between Sydney and Canberra.

Before being derailed by the federal government, it was to be the first stage of a visionary project designed to link Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle, the Gold Coast and Brisbane via high speed rail.

Sadly dreams of a new high-speed Shinkansen or TGV style rail network for Australia look like a fantastic pipe dream and Australia seems doomed to be the laughing stock of industrialised countries in the future when the price of petrol reaches a level where flying and driving between big cities become untenable.

42 thoughts on “High Speed Rail Trains Around the World: Except Australia”

  1. So, the big question. What would be the quickest way to get from Sydney CBD to Melbourne CBD: plane or high-speed train?

    PS, this post is sometimes showing contextual ads for air travel…

    EDITOR: Hi Steven

    According to Google Maps the distance to drive Sydney CBD to Melbourne CBD is 881 km via the inland route or about 1000km on the coastal route which would therefore take around 8 – 10hours

    Flying time actually in the air is about 1.5 hrs but you have to add time to get to Sydney Airport, check in and time to retreive luggage, escape Melbourne airport and catch a cab to the city

    So a high speed train ought to be pretty comparable to flying if the route was well designed and the train could cruise at a high consistent speed

    PS I’m a professional blogger and contextual ads are one of my big money earners

  2. I thoroughly read your aricle and found it very informative as well as interesting… I posted to my blog, gave a thumbs up… and hope lots of folks pop by to view. I am a train freak of sorts but not close to high speed jobs…mostly steam … I was born in Newfoundland and at one time that was the mode of travel period!! Anyhoo, much luck and take beaut care…

  3. I totally agree that Australia needs to catch up on its public transport system. Totally dismal. I live in Tokyo so I am appalled by how inefficient and inconvenient it is to get around even big cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

  4. I agree with Yu Ming Lui that Aussies need to do some great strides in their PTS. I’ve been to other cities where the public transport is so great.

  5. I’m really surprised that Australia is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to transport. Especially behind a few African countries. What also surprised me was that Europe was ahead of Asia (Japan in particular) as I thought the Japanese were at the forefront of rail travel.

  6. Australia needs to start to catch up with the international trend.High Speed trains is really convenient especially in big cities.

  7. You know what, i’m not worried about Australia. These other continents need these trains and a hell of a lot more help than australia. Especially Africa in which i believe the tracks will be a terrorist target. I mean for god sakes it’s full of starving people and child soldiers, what ever government officials are trying to get a 200 mile an hour train built are f**en Idiots and should be removed from office.
    -Nick

  8. This probally isnt the right way of looking at it but the majority of Australians i know spend most of their time traveling the world (outside of Australia) So for a good chunk of them would never use the trains! Allthoe they would dfinly be useful for the regular job crowd and travelers. Australia has always been a bit behind in the transportation sector, so in time it will come 😉

  9. Train will be an alternative transportation besides airplane.. especially nowadays when the oil price is high

  10. I don’t know, I’m not really embarassed by it at all. The world is all too fast-paced, maybe it’s nice to just sit and think about how lucky we are and not how misfortuned our life is.

  11. If it makes you feel any better, North America practically does not have any high speed trains either. I live in Western Canada, which makes that Acela Express in the NE USA extremely irrelevant to me.

    The lack of high speed trains in both Canada and Australia probably have to do with our relative lack of population concentration though. There are just not enough people to make it work economically. I would love it if we did have them – The Eurostar was very comfortable and convenient and probably saved a decent amount of time vs. flying too.

  12. Demands with no supplys…
    a very good bussiness opotunity and economy boost with nobody pushing ahead…odd…

    Don’t mind to stay far far away if have such facility around the country.

    Hope government can hear our voice and give us – High Speed Train travel – to shut us up.

  13. I used to think that going faster was an end in itself, but I’m not so sure that it’s so. Whilst faster, better local public transport investment makes sense – as it gets cars and buses off the streets and restores some “humanity” to the streetscape – duplicating and competing with air travel is not so compelling, unless air travel is rendered totally uncompetitive due to the cost of fuel, of course. To build high speed rail lines – these are new lines on new reservation with gentler curves and minimal grades, remember, uncontaminated by current slow rail, is extraordinarily expensive and may not actually take cars or even trucks off the road. It may just drive more intense competition with fares and generate even more traffic, both local and long-distance. Do we need this?

    A fast rail between say Sydney and Canberra may make some sense, but to Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth? Wow, that’s a lot of high-speed track, more land lost to native plants and animals, extensive land resumptions, more concrete poured for massive viaducts and tunnels, even more greenhouse gases emitted in the process… yet who will use these fast trains? And do we really need more people travelling at high speed just because (a) they want to or (b) because it fits some economist’s theory about the freer movement of labour? Maybe we need to reassess what we want here, given that Australia is perfect for flying and the infrastructure is already in place.

  14. Before reading this, I never knew Australia does not have a high speed rail trains. Which was really a surprise to me because its sort of a necessity. Thank you for the enlightment.

  15. I’m really surprised that Australia is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to transport. Especially behind a few African countries. What also surprised me was that Europe was ahead of Asia (Japan in particular) as I thought the Japanese were at the forefront of rail travel.

  16. I have been going crazy about this lately. It seems absurd that Australia, with a largely urban population doesn’t have any sort of high speed rail link, especially Melbourne and Sydney and probably even Bris (cities of nearly 4 million and 2 million people and that is the third busiest flight route in the world). What i think would be great is a elevated high speed (something like the Next Generation AGV) that links Geelong (170,000), Melbourne (Southern Cross), Tullamarine Airport (a link between the city and the airport is already needed Skybus is slow), Albury/Wodonga (100,000), Canberra (350,000 + pollies, businessmen and tourists), Wollongong (280,000), Sydney, Mascot Airport, Newcastle (525,000), Port Macquarie (45,000), Coffs Harbour (50,000), Gold Coast (600,000) and Brisbane. This includes all the major population centres in Eastern Australia (the Tilt Train includes the rest) and popular business and tourist routes. THis would have profound economic and environmental benefits, encouraging more people to travel within Australia as it would be cheaper and more ecoologically sustainable. I know the more stops it has the slower the time will be. But for it to be politically viable it needs to benefit as many people as possible.

  17. It’s a great idea, sure, but there’s a lot of emotional language here that gets in the way of our analysis: words like “crazy”, “absurd”, “embarrassing”, “sadly”, “antiquated” and “visionary” make it seem easy, like it’s a no-brainer. Of course it would be great to have fast rail around Oz, and it may indeed be a matter of national pride – if that actually matters to us. And yes we also need to think about our transport options as we enter a warmer climate with dearer oil; but we still need to do some sums and think of the consequences, too.

    Melbourne to Sydney or Sydney to Brisbane seem enormously expensive projects with massive environmental downsides – fast rail means new tracks on more gentle slopes and curves, with yet more land cleared, more concrete poured for massive viaducts, extensive tunnelling and yet more electricity generated to power the whole system. This would be tens of billions of dollars and a decade of building, at least. Imagine what else you could do with that money, by investing in other infrastructure or services. Imagine the upkeep cost. Imagine what happens if people still choose to use air services?

    So why do we want this? Because we need a backup plan for when/if air travel becomes unviable? Isn’t our current rail and road system doing that job? Current rail is too slow, I hear that, but maybe the endless pursuit of speed is not the main game either. Maybe some extra investment in current rail, and new standard-speed freight lines would be a better alternative?

    Just say we did build it, what would actually happen? First casualty would be the “antiquated” rail system, surely, with cutbacks to services and possible line closures. Airlines would fight back with cheaper fares and we’d end up with a few players fighting it out for a fairly small market (between Sydney and Melbourne that is currently around 90,000 passengers per week – compared with a Shinkansen system that carries around 350,000 people per day). Sure we’d grow that market, but is that actually what we want? Does it make economic or environmental sense to be encouraging more people to travel between our biggest cities, and to do so faster? There are economists who will say “yes” because competition and freedom of movement is ‘always’ good, but how are they treating the externalities, the hidden costs of building and maintaining duplicated infrastructure? The opportunity cost of the capital consumed, and the additional pollution? The dislocated farmers, the dying country towns bypassed by the fast train, the outer city-dwellers who find a 300kmh train roaring through their previously quiet suburbs?

    It’s not such an easy decision and it will end up compromised in many ways (for starters, too many stations on a longer route would erode the speed gained but please the country towns). Maybe scaling back to shorter routes like Wollongong-Sydney-Newcastle, or even spending the money on “standard” public transport within a city would make better sense than building a massive prestige-based national fast-rail network?

    EDITOR: Thanks for your detailed and considered comments Rob

  18. gtveloce, you comment that VFTs require gentle grades, yet in fact they tolerate up to 4%; higher than most conventional lines (with high power and intertia, they can coast up and down the grade more easily than conventional trains). Extensive tunnelling would be avoided if at all possible. Gentle curves is the main requirement, but with a good tolerance for grades this can normally be arranged.

    Remember that Melbourne/Sydney is the fourth busiest air corridor in the world; that KSA is close to capacity, so another form of transport will soon be needed. For those “with trains roaring through their suburbs”, well, those under flight paths complain too (not to mention fast trains normally travel at reduced speeds until the urban boundary anyway). Traffic (of any kind) noise is inevitable in large cities.

    Many stations can be on the VFT route, but with a mix of stoppers/express; most TGVs follow this pattern, as stations typically diverge from the main line permitting expresses to continue unimpeded. This provides fast terminus-terminus travel but also fast regional travel, permitting towns along the route to act as their own hubs or commuter dormitories (depending on town planning, to an extent). Towns bypassed don’t “die”, this argument has been made over and over by towns being bypassed by the highway but by and large they’re all ok – some even grow substantially, on account of the increased amenity (and reduced trip times, as other towns get bypassed too). In fact, encouraging distributed centres can actually reduce overall infrastructure requirements, as cities need subways, bridges, freeways and the like, but populations in smaller towns tend not to need the advanced forms of these, nor subways, and everything can be made on a lighter scale (not having to take say 5000 vehicles/hour, as city arterials might). School traffic is in the commuter towns, not the city, etc.

    VFTs powered by green electricity have been calculated around 2g CO2/passenger/100km, something I don’t think air could match (concrete for construction aside; I doubt that has been calculated, although it’s usually earthworks, not concrete for the main part required). Fast rail has a practical speed limit of 350-400km/h or so; the air resistance increases at the square of the speed, and at a certain point the extra energy required for faster travel erodes any environmental benefit obtained by VFTs vs air (or car, etc), not to mention maintenance requirements start to become inhibitive as well.
    These speeds put Melbourne-Sydney towards the upper limit of VFT utility (vs air), but with Canberra and a whole bunch of other significant towns on the way, I believe it will have its place as part of a multi-faceted transport system in Australia.

  19. Very good reading! It’s interesting to see the status of high speed rail around the world.
    I’ve taken the Amtrak Acela from Boston to Philadelphia in the USA, (where I live), and also to Washington DC. It could be faster, but at least we’re trying.
    Also took the highspeed from Madrid to Seville, that was fun.
    That run in Argentina sounds like it would be a great trip.

  20. I do agree it is sort of embarrassing to see there is no high speed train system operational in Australia.

    I don’t see the link between say Sydney and Brisbane or Sydney and Melbourne as the major objective as those routes are well served (at a very competitive price) by airlines.

    To me the connection between regional centers and metro areas would be the priority. Examples are high speed train links between Newcastle and Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong and Sydney in NSW and Geelong and Melbourne and Bendigo and Melbourne in VIC. This would allow people from Newcastle to take public transport to Sydney, rather than their cars. 160km should take less than an hour, even with a stop or two in Gosford and Hornsby compared to the 2 or more hours during peak hour by car. This will actually allow regional centers to become overflow areas for the major metro centers (and potentially take pressure of real estate prices in the metro areas). Other benefit would be that the discussion about a 2nd airport for Sydney would drastically change..

  21. The problem is the closed shop attitude of certain organisations in Australia prevent the natural progress of hich tech transport.

    Unfortunately the governments of Australia have no ability in forward planning simply because of the type of back ground the politicians are selected from. So it will not just be high speed rail that AUstralia will slowly be left behind.

    Anyone who has travelled many times between Broken Hill and Sydney like I have will know slow speed on very uncomfortable trains is not so romantic at all. not only are the speeds ever so slow, the service is quite horrid.

    The whole place is controlled by unions who do not want modernisation of the railways as it is their last bastion of real control.

    Fast trains would immediately make the old ones redundant as well as all of the many different signal operators etc along the way. These are part of the great hold up so to speak along with vested interest financing political parties.

    Sad thing all of this is holding Australia back. Fast efficient railways open up the development of the country.

    But along with the problem of water the federal governments are so fixed on bribing their way into power that all the money required to build modern infrastructure is wasted, fritted away so all there is, a high speed way to massive debt. Railways are not just the transport of the past they are the transport of the future.

    Many concepts of high speed rail transport can be imagined and produced. Even above the clotted roads of Sydney there is room for high speed mono rail using small modular multi link systems distributing people to suburbs.

    The problem is the governments are only able to talk, in cleverly prepared spin, it is the limitation of their conceptual ability.

    As an evolutionary psychologist, I put it down to a matter of lack of cultural develoment due to an hang over of a post colonialist anti establishment mentality that linger into the present day hence forth holding back the whole of the development of Australia.

    Australia has such an amazing potential yet is held back by colloquial factional attitude of its citizens fixated on past dislikes and debts owed to mates.

    So long as it is so that Australians are fixated on real estate prices they will hold their own country back as that aspect of capitalism ensures the debts to that ideal drain so much money from the system any way little is left to finance what is required to develop an undeveloped country.

    Little minded narrow tunnel visioned mono toned spin doctors rule Australia and so that is the road they take everyone down so long as the politicians’ real estate portfolio is taken care of that is all that really matters to them.

    A fixation on satisfying a shallow ego and cow towing to ‘mates’ union officials slows down the ountry to Stevens Rocket speed.
    kind regards

  22. While I think 320km/h trains are a pipe dream I can easily envisage 200km/h deisel trains in the next decade or so, indeed I think it’s the next logical step. Australia does have a lot of medium speed trains capable of 160km/h; NSW’s XPT, Queensland’s tilt trains, WA’s Prospector and Victoria’s VLocity, so the groundwork is there. The British version of our 160km/h XPT was doing 200km/h since the mid 70s, so the technology is fully mature. Qld’s tilt train is a nifty way to solve the problem of high speed in curves, which currently slow the XPT down in 60km/h in many places. This isn’t as sexy as TGVs and bullet trains, but for the comparatively tiny price tag it would be plenty good enough.

  23. gtveloce your comment is great, but I don’t agree with some of your view.
    All those environmental downsides you said is so real, but what happen if you compare those with air travel? You just can’t physically see the damage for the plane do you? VFT would definately a better choice for the environment. If we are going to build a MagLev system that’s even better, obviously MagLev trains are quiet, efficient and fast.

    VFT is not a backup plan. Oil is exhasting in this earth, and this is for sure. VFT use much less energy to move compared to plane. Some of the points you said are valid, but they are for us to overcome and not the excuses to quit.

  24. I agree, Riaino, Australia can quickly and cheaply improve some of its inter city rail services. For example, the fastest current Sydney-Newcastle train takes about 2hr 40min and makes 13 stops (that’s the FASTEST) – an average speed of about 60km/h.

    But, put a Queensland Tilt Train on the same route and it could achieve a 25% faster top speed and be 25% faster in corners. Limit the number of stops to 6 and I think you could cut the 2hr 40min down to about 1hr 40min – an average speed of about 100km/h. Then business customers might take it seriously.

    There are things like this our governments could do now to give us quality inter-city services.

    By the way, I also fully support very high speed (300km/h +) in the Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane corridors – even considering constrcution costs, a much better deal for the environment.

  25. Basing this scheme on a 300km train service
    Imagine leaving Newcastle at 8am and getting to work in Sydney in time for your 9-5 job and back again home by 6:pm

    Or getting the 3:pm Sydney – Brisbane service and arriving in Brisbane in time to watch the 7:pm kick off Waratahs v Reds match;

    I would love to live in Coffs Harbour if I knew that I could get to work in Brisbane in 1 1/2 hours and I’m sure that a lot of people would be thinking the same thing.

    To say that it would revolutionize the way we get around would be a massive understatement and it really is a no brainer to the future development of the eastern sea board.

    But it would take a long sighted government with a bit of vision and a lot of backbone and an electorate that wouldn’t mind paying for it for some time to come before it could eventuate and I just can not see that happening in the short term.

    And from what I’m seeing in Sydney and our other Capitals PT systems it’s no wonder that the majority of people living in them prefer to use a car, it’s frustrating to say the least!
    I’m living back in Sydney after spending 10 years living in the UK and every time I heard the English complain about there PT system I couldn’t help but laugh as I explained what it’s like back home.

    Come on Aussie, bite the bullet and get with the program!!!

  26. A high speed link between regional centres and capital cities is needed badly in australia, especially on the east coast where most of the population is. Trains are great for region to region but are too slow for suburb travel and capital to capital. Planes are only good for capitals.and it is too expensive to commute from region to capital by car.

    A technology called ‘personal rapid transit’ may provide an answer. Although ridiculed by most and poorly understood by most, it could theoretically solve many of the problems of transit in australia.

    It is a rail based system. carriages or ‘pods’ are independent of each other [not physically connected].
    Pods can hold 2 or 4 people [similar to most car travelers].
    travel is direct to your destination with no intermediate stops. Pods could go at speeds of 100km+, all the way to your destination, perhaps faster in wide open country areas.
    pod stations are ‘off track’ meaning they are on a short track off the main track, which means when a pod stops at a station, traffic on the main line keeps going.
    The track is elevated, and would more resemble a rollercoaster track than a train track. This allows the system to be unimpeded by structures or topography. Stations could be built into shopping centres, universities etc.

    AND PERHAPS THE BEST PART: ITS AN ON DEMAND SYSTEM
    the pod waits for you, and is ready to go when you are. you dont have to run to catch your train any more. set your own schedule.

    Is this a dream of science fiction. HELL NO. its doable with todays technology. and when people are not using it [off peak times and late at night] it could be used to ship small items/amounts of cargo/freight/post around the country in specially designed cargo pods that would go from cargo station to cargo station.

    Infinitely expandable across the entire country/continent, cheaper than catching a train or bus, safer than a train, plane or automobile, faster in most instances, stations in every suburb, university, shopping centre, stadium etc, traveling price would be offset by cargo use and maybe ‘in pod’ advertising.

    You could do so much with this system.

    And you could sell it to the world. But i would start from Wollongong [public transport is a slow joke] and make a link to sydney, then Canberra and everywhere else.

    powerlines would have to be put underground. but they are ugly and should be underground anyway.

    Tell me what you think!

  27. may 8th. 2010
    gentlemen
    here are some ideas I presented to DOT in the 60s
    now many are claiming them, the personal capsule could travel at fantastic speeds without the need of massive weights of trains and displaced travellers for approximatly a few pennies a mile even including cargo capsules. check these web sites

    http://trillions.topcities.com/dualmodemaglev.html

    check these also
    http://trillions.topcities.com/
    http://trillions.topcities.com/electriCar.html
    http://trillions.topcities.com/00glblslrnrgsys.html

    lets have all nations perticipate and contribute.
    attitudes need to change if we “the world” want to go places
    all the best — jack marchand

  28. You should start some sort of petition to force governments to seriously consider this. I would consider starting a website with you if you’re interested?

    Why Bullet trains:
    Low Carbon Emissions
    Increased Productivity
    Reduced strain on infrastructure
    Reduced need for business to be located within the CBD
    and more….

    Less Tunnels More Bullet Trains!

  29. Justin makes good points – but of course “government” has already seriously considered it and the business case doesn’t stack up without ongoing subsidy. That’s the simple answer. (Not sure why ‘bullet trains’ mean fewer tunnels, btw. Wouldn’t bullet trains use tunnels?)

    To recap what I’ve said before – it’s a huge capital investment that would operate at a loss for decades. Even if we will feel better if if have one (perhaps) it doesn’t mean enough people will use it to reduce greenhouse emissions enough (or even dent air travel enough) to cover the emissions generated in its construction (1,000km of landclearing, loss of habitat, earthworks and all the rest – and it still needs energy to make the trains move fast!).

    We’d probably have to treble our population to make it work. And that alone causes more environmental problems. OK, we could build it into a regional decentralisation plan but again that takes decades to make happen and hasn’t worked particularly well in previous attempts. I’m all for trying it but I do question whether we could better spend our money on smaller, less iconic but more “needed” transport or other infrastructure projects.

    Of course if we could just put a price on carbon we’d be a step forward in many ways, but even that looks like an impossible dream. One day I suppose.

  30. I travel a lot with work between gold coast and sydney, always fly virgin-blu gold member too, anyway I thought I would catch the train as I had not done that run by rail before, so I booked a sleeper room 1 adult over the phone, ”Ha wot a joke”had to catch a bus from robina to casino some 3 hours, then catch the connecting train 7pm from casino{town} arriving in syd next morn 730am def wont be doing that again, I did find out you can catch one direct from brisb to syd 730 am arrive syd 8pm bypass gold coast, with no sleeper beds on!! over 12hrs in a chair!! come on!!

    I was lucky I had the cabin to my self, but not knowing at every stop I might be sleeping with someone else that night, what a good nights sleep I had not, fast trains are def what we need in Aus, the ones similar to roller coaster tracks feel more safe? I also think it would be a while yet, cause of how other business would be effected like the truckies and all the unions, they would say anything to slow it down, but lets keep plugging away and it will pay off anyone have an email or web site to form a petition??
    Regards
    Tony

  31. I agree that Australia is a modern country but doesn’t have alot of infrastructure that other countries have such as fast rail and even metro.

    If you agree, please sign this petition: http://fastrail.com.au/

    Help spread the word and share it around. The more signatures we have, the better 🙂

  32. That link seems to primarily promote Wollongong as a stop on a proposed high-speed rail link between Melbourne and Brisbane, presumably at the expense of any alternative routes – although the domain name is more generically – and misleadingly – just “fast rail”. Fair enough for Wollongong locals, but it’s an example of what will happen when competing regional centres start lobbying for their stops as well. I guess I’d personally want Wollongong to be considered, but surely it needs to be part of the greater Sydney transport plan first of all? Wouldn’t that be the best bet for funding?

    Whilst Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane is what’s being currently promoted it’s a stretch to imagine that the business case will stack up, especially given that the NBN – arguably an even more compellingly national infrastructure investment – has had such a struggle to get this far. A far better case could be made for a greater Sydney transport plan, where fast rail between Newcastle-Gosford-Sydney embraces the ‘Gong as well. With a long-term plan to link in with a national fast-rail “grid” later, perhaps. Just a thought!

  33. The website fastrail.com.au does focus on Wollongong but Wollongong is between MELBOURNE and SYDNEY.

    If the project is to go ahead the Fast Rail link would be:

    MELBOURNE – CANBERRA – WOLLONGONG – SYDNEY – NEWCASTLE – BRISBANE.

    Each area of Australia needs to prompt the area they live in and hence this website was setup for Wollongong but overall it is for all people in the above areas.

  34. In comment 29 above all my web sites (http://trillions.topcities.com/)were removed by presumably power groups whose greedy interests is to permit only them to acquire the info. It relates to global transportation in the future with EVs riding magnetic tubes guideways with tunnels in the Bering Sea (Alaska to Siberia) also tunnels from Quebec to Greenland, Iceland, and Faeroes Islands to Scotland and Europe (across North Atlantic Ocean)also in Asia fron Indochina to Australia connecting the Islands in between. The global system connecting all countries would be proportionally owned by each and whose shares would reflect their usage of it. Should anyone
    be willing to contact — http://www.topcities.com — and ask them to reinstall my site would be greatly appreciated. Otherwise it may take a while for me to redo it. Thanks, Jack Marchand

  35. “Are you human (YES or NO) (required) – Why ask?”

    Why the above sign in comment requirement – Why do you ask?
    My answer was “yes” — at least I think I am. R U

    A better world is coming — J.M.

    EDITOR: The “Are you human” question reduces the amount of junk comments made on this site by automated spam software programs

  36. Distances+Minimal population relative to land mass and distance: low population density meaning not anywhere near enough passenger traffic to justify the vast cost; ie, Victoria roughly equals the land mass of the UK….[England Wales Scotland] now the UK population is 68,000,000 vs Victoria’s population of just 5,850,000 in roughly the same land area;
    We just are’nt in the demographics that make super fast train investment viable!
    Victoria itself is now embracing the semi-fast train challenge by upgrading it’s intercity rail lines
    and operating their 1st generation Vlocity trains at 160kph between Melbourne and Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo,Ararat,Albury,Sheparton,Traralgon and Seymour; The 2nd generation Vlocity trains [ now on order] will exceed 200kph, making them Australia’s fastest, but still well short of being classed as very fast trains by world standards. The step up from fast to Very Fast High speed trains is a massive step in every sense. Hmmn, Air traffic will be the mainstay for some years to come I think on this continent !

  37. Fast trains are lovely things and have many advantages but they are terrestrial and need steel and concrete, poles and wires and maintenance and construction crews in trucks, coughing out yet more carbon dioxide. They cost lots of money to build and maintain and unless you bury them (at even greater cost) they carve out a long tract of land, a barrier to wildlife, everywhere they go. All to reduce our reliance on air travel? Or to reduce our “embarrassment” at not having a HST? Given that the airlines will fight to retain their customers it sounds like a loss-making money pit for the taxpayer – at least until air travel actually becomes uneconomic, in which case a HST business case improves markedly. If that happens. So is it an (expensive) insurance policy? A folly? All of the above?

    I wouldn’t mind having one but sadly I don’t think the case stacks up. Whilst air travel may pollute more than fast rail, at least in a day to day sense, it doesn’t lock out vast tracts of land between stops and is inherently more flexible in scheduling and route, too. If say we chose the ‘logical’ east coast HST route from Brisbane-Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong-Canberra-Melbourne we’ll get complaints and probably requests for compensation from every regional city skipped. Or we’ll buckle to pressure and weave the line around making sure as many places are stopped at as possible – adding to cost and slowing the service. And once it’s in place that’s it. You can’t just move the line again on a whim. Whereas an airline just needs a suitable aircraft and an airport and can adapt its routes with relative ease. That flexibility coupled with good flying weather, relatively flat terrain and big distances between major cities is exactly why air travel has ‘taken off’ in this country.

    In summary – although no-one seems to read this far anyway, I’ll persist – we aren’t like other countries. We don’t have the population density along the route like Japan, or the commonly foul, foggy, wild weather that Europe has, nor the mountainous Alpine terrain. Or the relatively short distances between big centres. And unlike Japan (or Europe for that matter) our old train system hasn’t been destroyed in a world war and has to be rebuilt anyway. So maybe we need to invest in our current rail system and incrementally improve it rather than dumping billions into something that may actually be a bit more of a risk than some of us imagine?

    Or forget travel (by any means) and just use the NBN for superior video-conferencing instead?

  38. gentlemen
    here are some ideas I presented to DOT in the 60s
    now many are claiming them, the personal capsule could travel
    at fantastic speeds without the need of massive weights of trains and
    displaced travellers for approximatly a few pennies a mile
    even including cargo capsules.

    check this web site and continue at its bottom–

    http://www.angelfire.com/nj4/streetrag/index4.html

    it can become a global connected system.

    lets have all nations perticipate and contribute.
    attitudes need to change if we “the world” want to go places
    all the best — jack marchand

  39. For some unfathomable reason I thought to revisit this HST idea today… and here we are, some 6 years on. We’ve had yet more “official” reports but no (serious) action. I’m not against HSTs per se, as I’ve said several times, but do wonder if they stack up economically and environmentally in Australia. Despite much being made of the success of air travel in Oz, especially between the big centres of Bris-Syd-Mel, no one is stumping up the cash to lay high speed rail. Probably exactly (and ironically) because of the very success of air travel, I suspect! It would be hard to derive a sufficient return on investment on your huge fixed rail capital costs when your competitor is already dirt cheap and can more easily move their fleet to new routes if needed anyway.

    So are we embarrassed by this inaction? We’ve already passed the “2013” deadline quoted above, obviously. Yet still no South American HST. No African HSTs until sometime this year, perhaps. And no change in the US, either. Perhaps the smart money is on waiting for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop proposal to become real instead?

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