There have been talks of developing a high-speed rail network in Australia for decades now, and it is finally back on the agenda again in this election by the Labor government. Should it, at long last, be developed in Australia? This high-speed rail network is currently in operation in Asia, Europe and the United States, and with the planned developments in both Africa and South America, Australia will be the only continent without any high-speed rail services in a few years’ time.
One advantage of developing the high-speed rails is the provision of an alternative and/or cheaper alternative mode of transport. It is suggested that it will have lower passenger costs as compared to travelling by automobiles or air. Take for example, the Sydney – Melbourne air route. It is the fourth busiest in the world, and the flight time is about 1.5 hours, with a distance of approximately 881km. According to Google Map, this takes approximately 10 hours if travelling by the cheaper alternative to air travel – the car. However, with the high-speed rails operating at an average speed ranging from 250km to 350km per hour, it would only take about 3 to 4 hours to travel between Sydney and Melbourne. This compares to the total amount of time taken to travel to/ from airport, check in and time to collect luggage if travelling by air, as it would work out to be almost the same.
The high-speed rails are also less environmentally damaging. With the world becoming more aware of global warming and the potential cost of carbon footprint to Australia, high-speed rails offer the alternative solution to automobile and air travel. It is found that the electrically-powered high speed rail reduces pollutant and greenhouse gas emission, and will save on carbon emission costs.
Other advantages of high speed rail over automobile and air travel include lower accident rates than automobile travel. Job creations are amongst the many benefits that high speed rails have to offer. For further information, a thorough study was done by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Rail Innovation.