High Speed Trains - I want them now
Sydney’s a big city and parking/driving is an expensive exercise so I try to catch public transport as much as possible to save money.
The only problem is: it’s magnificently inconvenient.
Sydney’s public transport system leaves a lot to be desired. The busses are always late, the trains are slow and go to only half the locations you hope for, and both are far too expensive.
When I was overseas, I managed to see what real public transport was like. New York, for example, has a subway that takes you everywhere you want to go.
No matter the time, no matter the location, there was a train waiting for me to hop on and take me wherever I wanted to go.
But by far the most effective public transport solution I’ve seen was when I was in Italy and caught the ‘bullet train’.
This train took me from Milan to Bologna in next to no time because it was hurtling down the tracks at over 250kph.
In less than an hour (the equivalent of a commute on a bad day between Bondi and Sydney’s CBD (a cool 15km journey)) passengers can travel from one metropolitan centre to the next, some 200km away.
Japan, perhaps, shows the best example of the effectiveness of high speed trains.
The route between Tokyo and Osaka is one of the busiest in the world and everyday 120,000 passengers are taken from one city to the other, on trains that leave every ten minutes. The trains travel well over 300kph.
According to The Economist: Although humans, not robots, are at the controls, the average delay is a miraculous 36 seconds. To take all those passengers by air would require 667 aircraft, each with 180 seats, or five times Japan’s fleet of Boeing 737s.
Excuse me for getting a little carried away, but that’s absolutely awesomely amazing. And it makes me wonder why the heck Australia hasn’t done something similar.
Think about it; implementing three high speed train lines could revolutionise the landscape of south-east Australia.
I reckon if there was a high speed train route between Melbourne to Canberra to Sydney, one between Sydney and Wollongong, and one between Sydney and… hmmm, I dunno, somewhere regional like Newcastle or Bathurst, the flow-on effects on a whole bunch of demographics would be astounding.
All of a sudden, people could legitimately live hundreds of kilometres away from their workplace and still be at work in 90 minutes or less.
Suddenly, Australia’s biggest barrier to population expansion (its remoteness) could be transformed. Regional areas around Canberra, Newcastle, and central NSW would become places people would seek-after to live as they could legitimately work in the big cities.
Canberra’s population would significantly increase as less people are driven away by its remoteness and… well… boringness. Public servants, for instance, wouldn’t come for two years and then leave. They’d come and stay for good.
Local economies of these regional places would thrive, bringing life to their struggling retail sectors as more people move in and buy fridges, TVs, beds etc.
The NBN would actually have a purpose, providing sizeable population centres with high speed internet access instead of selectively small populations in marginal Labor electorates.
The lefties would be happy as it would incentivise public transport – removing cars from the roads and taking planes out of the sky,decreasing CO2 emissions.
Qantas could scrap its domestic airline service and focus solely on Jetstar, and it would have a legitimate excuse to do so since it’s been running at a loss for years.
Infrastructure, planning, engineering, design and logistics companies would see a massive boost of income, especially if a commercially viable PPP could be organised to build the things.
These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. Australia needs high speed trains because they’re fast, efficient, and they’re exactly what a dispersed and remote population needs.
So, everyone, let’s climb on board with this idea.
I’d stay and write more, but I’ve got a train to catch.