“A zero emissions fast train network serving Australia is visionary and nation building. It will stimulate our domestic construction sector, providing thousands of jobs, whilst being a serious step to avoiding the looming oil and climate crises”, said Matthew Wright, campaign director of Beyond Zero Emissions.
“Australia is lagging behind Europe, Japan, China and emerging economies by failing to plan and build a high speed rail network connecting all the mainland capitals,” said Mr Wright.
“Across Europe, air travel is fast being replaced by high speed rail. France has an extensive rail network and Spain’s fast train network has grown to 2,000 km of track over the last decade, with the government building 10,000 km of high-speed railway track by 2020.
“90% of the Spanish population will be within 50 km from a bullet train station.”
Spain’s first high-speed 360 km train route between Madrid and Seville opened in 1992 with 5 million passengers taking advantage of the highly time-efficient train travel in its first year, avoiding airline queues, frustrating check-ins and cramped conditions.
“Australia can’t afford to be importing $65 billion of oil each year by 2015. This is the equivalent of foreign oil companies taxing all Australians $3,000 each.
“We need to keep the $65 billion a year in Australia, directing it towards schools, hospitals and a transition to electrified rail powered by 100% renewable energy.
“The Federal government is exposing Australians to fluctuating oil prices and dangerous global warming by not addressing the looming oil crisis with electrification of transport, including a Fly-By-Rail option between Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.
“If only the Australian federal and state governments could see the immense value of a fast and efficient train system. This would answer the Australian public’s calls for leadership on the climate crisis”, Mr Wright said.
The Melbourne-to-Sydney air route is the world’s fourth-busiest in the world. A high-speed train carries eight times as many passengers as an aeroplane over a given distance, using the same amount of energy.
And with our vast open spaces and flat land, the cost of building infrastructure for such a system is economically favourable compared to European countries.
“Starting with Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra, building 4,500 kilometres of track would link Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra, cost approximately $64 billion (just one year of oil imports in 2015), employ tens of thousands in construction and maintenance workers, whilst using significant local content”, Mr Wright said. “The trains can be powered through electrified rails, offering zero emissions transport when combined with 100 per cent renewable energy built into the existing electricity grid.
“The current climate science shows we need to urgently de-carbonise our society. Switching interstate travel from air to rail is an important part of that. This is a reliable and safe technology used around the world for decades.”
Further information, references and reading
Australia will import 80% of its oil needs by 2015, raising oil imports to $65 billion p/a and growing.