High-speed rail in Australia


High-speed rail in Australia

Australia is a country without any high-speed rail (200 km/h or above). [cite web
url=http://www.uic.asso.fr/gv/article.php3?id_article=14
title=General definitions of highspeed
publisher=International Union of Railways
accessdate=2008-08-13
] Since the 1980s various proposals have been made but with no success. Today the fastest passenger trains travel at 160 km/h, which was first achieved in the early 1980s.

Proposals

The first true high speed rail proposal was that of the Very Fast Train, made in 1984 by the CSIRO. Using contemporary French TGV technology, a new railway would be built from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra, with the journey taking 3 hours. The Very Fast Train proposal attracted much public and media attention, as well as some private sector capital for feasibility studies.cite book
author = Philip Laird
title = Where We Are Now
work = Back on Track
publisher = UNSW Press
year = 2001
page = pages 32-33
isbn = 0 86840 411 X
] Opposition to the Very Fast Train was on cost and environmental grounds, as the elements of routes under consideration ran though national parks and forest, with the proposal suspended by government in 1990. In 1995 a second proposal was made for high speed rail by the Speedrail consortium, this time between the much closer cities of Sydney and Canberra. In March 1997 the Commonwealth, New South Wales and ACT Governments formally invited expressions of interest for the line, with six proponents in the running. Four proposals were received by December 1997, all accompanied by the required $100,000 deposit. The proposals were:
* Maglev technology by Transrapid
* TGV technology by the Speedrail consortium
* Tilting trains and upgraded tracks by two groups: Capital Rail and Inter Capital Express

On August 8, 1998 Prime Minister John Howard announced the Speedrail was the preferred party,cite book
author = Philip Laird
title = The Institutional Problem
work = Back on Track
publisher = UNSW Press
year = 2001
page = pages 107-108
isbn = 0 86840 411 X
] and gave the go ahead for the project to move into the 'proving up' stage, on the understanding that if the project proceeded, it would be at "no net cost to the taxpayer". Construction was to commence in 2003, with 15000 new jobs created during the construction period. The line would operate under a Build Own Operate model, being transferred to government in 30 years. Trains would commence running in late 2003, with nine eight car trains in use, departing from each city at 45 minute intervals, and running at a maximum of 320 km/h to complete the journey in 81 minutes. Feasibility reports were handed to the government in October 1999, with media speculation that $1 billion in government assistance or tax concessions would be required. Calls were made to reopen the tender process to permit cheaper tilt train proposals to be considered but to no avail. The proposal was set aside by government in December 2000.

Issues

Issues preventing the adoption of high speed rail in Australia include:
* a perception of cheap car travel.
* no tolls on the majority of roads.
* a high level of competition in domestic air travel.

Medium speed services

Current medium speed trains include:

* In Western Australia Westrail commenced using high speed diesel railcars in 1971 on the Prospector service from Perth to Kalgoolie, and set a new Australian speed record. Now operated by Transwa, the original railcars were replaced in 2004 with units capable of 200km/h, and the new railcars are also used on the AvonLink service. [cite web
url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQQ/is_9_43/ai_109351765
title=Australia's fastest trains enter service
work=International Railway Journal
date=September 2003
publisher=findarticles.com
accessdate=2008-08-13
]

* New South Wales commenced operations with their XPT in 1981. Based on the British InterCity 125 train, it had a service speed of 160 km/h and set an Australian speed record of 193 km/h on a test run in 1992. [cite web
url=http://www.railpage.org.au/record.html
title=Australian rail speed records
publisher=www.railpage.org.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
] Today the train is not used to the full advantage, operating along winding steam era alignments, [cite book
author = Philip Laird
title = Where We Are Now
work = Back on Track
publisher = UNSW Press
year = 2001
page = page 31
isbn = 0 86840 411 X
] and has had the top speed limited due to track condition and level crossing incidents.

* New South Wales also trialled the Swedish X 2000 tilt train in 1995. Propelled by two specially modified XPT power cars, the train operated on an eight week trial carrying passengers between Sydney and Canberra. [cite web
url=http://www.railpage.org.au/xpt/x2000.html
title=X2000 in Australia
author=David Bromage
publisher=www.railpage.org.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
]

* Queensland Rail's Tilt Trains operate on two routes: from Brisbane to Rockhampton using an electric powered train, and Brisbane to Cairns with a diesel powered train. The routes used were partially upgraded in the 1990s at a cost of $590 million, with the construction of 160 km/h of deviations to straighten curves.cite book
author = Philip Laird
title = Appendix B: Australia's Gauge Muddle and Prospects
work = Back on Track
publisher = UNSW Press
year = 2001
page = page 191
isbn = 0 86840 411 X
] Both with a service speed of 160 km/h, [cite web
url=http://www.corporate.qr.com.au/Corporate/News_Room/Current/Press_releases/964.asp
title=Tilt Train Fleet Back to Normal Service
work=QR Corporate: Media Releases
date=May 24, 2007
publisher=www.corporate.qr.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
] the electric tilt train set an Australian rail speed record of 210 km/h in 1999. [cite web
url=http://www.history.qr.com.au/future/future/
title=QR History
publisher=www.history.qr.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
]

* In Victoria the State Government upgraded railway lines as part of the Regional Fast Rail project, with V/Line operating their VLocity diesel railcars at a maximum speed of 160 km/h over the lines. [cite web
url=http://www.transport.vic.gov.au/Doi/Internet/transport.nsf/AllDocs/A944F6235A7D1031CA257266008361F3?OpenDocument
title=Public transport - VLocity trains
publisher=www.transport.vic.gov.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
] In the early stages of the project the Victorian Government incorrectly referred to it as the 'Fast Train' or 'Very Fast Train', and this practice continues among some politicians and members of the public. [cite web
url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/09/21/1064082860638.html
title=Fast train is a big waste of money
work=The Age
date=September 22, 2003
author=Kenneth Davidson
publisher=www.theage.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
] [cite web
url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/Not-even-Libs-believe-Doyles-buyout-promise/2004/12/18/1103312781119.html
title=Not even Libs believe Doyle's buy-out promise
work=The Age
author=David Broadbent
date=December 19, 2004
publisher=theage.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
] [cite web
url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/editorial/rail-safety-is-vital-no-matter-how-far-down-the-track/2008/03/13/1205126106493.html?page=fullpage
title=Rail safety is vital, no matter how far down the track
author=Editorial
date=March 14, 2008
publisher=theage.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-13
]

See also

* High-speed rail
* Rail transport in Australia

References

Further reading

*cite web
url=http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bp/1997-98/98bp16.htm
title=Australian Very Fast Trains - A Chronology
work=Background Paper 16
date=April 1998
author=Paula Williams
publisher=Parliamentary Library
accessdate=2008-08-13


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