Decades of debate are threatening to destroy the chances of Australia securing a High Speed Rail (HSR) network and the desperately needed alternative to Sydney’s only Airport.
The ‘do nothing’ approach will see Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane-Gold Coast grow into mega cities crippled by congestion and governments will continue to struggle to provide the necessary infrastructure to support them.
Bryan Nye, Australasian Railway Association CEO says it is not an ‘either or’ proposition but both should be on the table.
“I’ve read the Government report on the need for a second Sydney International Airport and it’s clear that airport capacity constraints need to be addressed to meet expected growth in international flights,” said Mr Nye.
“However, what is missing from the current debate is the impact and benefit of a high speed rail network connecting our East Coast cities.”
Domestic flights are clogging Sydney flight paths. The route between Sydney and Melbourne is the fifth busiest in the world providing 7.9 million passenger journeys a year. A further 1.1 million passenger journeys are made by air annually between Sydney and Canberra.
“World experience shows that a 350km/hr high speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne with a travel time of 2hrs 50 min would see 60 percent of travellers change to rail,” said Nye.
“The Sydney to Canberra distance would see high speed rail become the dominant mode of transport on that leg,” continued Mr Nye.
“This shift to rail would free up the desperately needed air paths and runway slots into and out of Sydney airport.”
High Speed Rail can provide alternative solutions for an early construction of a second Sydney airport.
“A 30 minute high speed rail trip could provide access to an alternate airport within a 200km radius of Sydney,” continued Mr Nye.
“It could also provide overflow capacity through the existing Canberra and Newcastle Airports.”
However, the viability of high speed rail is not reliant on the need for a second Sydney Airport.
“Australia has the population to support a high speed rail network. The European and Asian experience shows that people are willing to travel by high speed rail up to one hour for work and three hours for recreational journeys.
High speed rail will dramatically change where Australians live, making regional and rural population centres viable places to visit and live whilst providing affordable housing outside our cities.
Apart from Antarctica, we are the only continent without high speed rail.
Action on high speed rail and an alternative to Sydney’s only airport will provide future generations with the transport solutions that will ensure Sydney’s position as a world leading city to live and work and make Australia a better place to live.