EcoTransit Sydney welcomes the NSW Government’s announcement that they have adopted a policy to build High Speed Rail. We can only hope that it is not just a pre-election ploy to garner votes and distract from their failures such as the implementation of the Sydney and SE Light Rail.
High Speed Rail is long overdue on the east coast of Australia. Australians who have visited Europe have been waiting for the train to leave the platform for almost 40 years and it is difficult not to be cynical regarding this latest policy announcement by the Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
EcoTransit Sydney has been advocating for High Speed Rail for many years and we have put forward our proposal for NSW to construct the first two lines, Sydney to Canberra and Sydney to Newcastle. However, High Speed Rail should not be an excuse to neglect the existing lines on these routes. The existing lines still require major upgrades for fast commuter services and more efficient freight movement.
The NSW Government needs to proceed carefully with High Speed Rail so that it doesn’t become another public transport disaster. There has to be consultations with all Governments, Federal, State and Territory on the east coast
- to establish universal standards for High Speed Rail,
- to prevent a “break of gauge” at the borders, and
- avoid the mistakes of the nineteenth century the still cause problems today.
High Speed Rail should not be a “stand alone” service and should interface with the existing network, as is the case in European countries that have built successful High speed rail. The existing network should be used as a feeder to High Speed Rail, for example a line to Canberra should utilise the existing Goulburn Station, to allow passengers to interchange with trains serving existing townships.
High Speed Rail to Canberra and eventually to Melbourne, could eliminate the need for Badgerys Creek Airport, by massively reducing the number of flights on these two routes. This has been the European experience where High Speed Rail has been built, the number of flights serving these routes have been reduced dramatically.
High Speed Rail will also help to reduce the population pressure in the Sydney Basin. Cities such as Newcastle and Goulburn will be become dormitory areas for Sydney. Goulburn would also be a dormitory area for Canberra.
High Speed Rail will assist in decentralisation along the east coast, by allowing people to live in cities with lower cost housing and commute to their jobs in Sydney or Canberra. This is a totally feasible and practical proposition when the commute time from Goulburn to Sydney’s CBD would be only 30 minutes.
Important points about High Speed Rail
- The east coast of Australia has been needed High Speed Rail for more than 30 years.
- Careful and consultative planning is essential.
- High Speed Rail has to interface with the existing rail network