Fast trains worth the ride

LIGHTNING: Bullet trains in Australia would be a welcome sight for many commuters, but legitimate high speed projects still aren’t on the radar.It’s a topic that has been ridiculed to the nth degree in recent years, butslowly andsurely, high speed rail is becoming a more relevant debate on Australian soil.

Bacchus Marsh transport consultant Jeff Moran says a long-term high speed rail service in Australia could benefit major regional centres like Ballarat, more thanhalve travel time to and from Melbourne and reduce the strain on clogged domestic airports.

A Federal government studyinto ahypotheticalexpress line from Melbourne to Sydney and through to Brisbane revealed the project, from 2027 to 2058, would cost an astonishing$114 billion.

The colossal figure notwithstanding,countries well versed in the production of high speed rail, such as China, Japan and Koreahave already flagged an interest in investing capital intoAustralian high speed rail ventures.

In answer to the study,Mr Moran’scompany, AWTY Transport Consulting, with the Gippsland Local Government Network,last year produced a detailed document about the viability of a Melbourne to Sydney fast train stopping atDandenong, Packenham, Warragul andTraralgon.

Findings have revealed a staggering set of results that one day could positively translate to areas like Ballarat.

A two-way service (between Melbourne and Traralgon)running every 10 minutes during peak hours could attract a weekday patronage of 113,000 trips, effectively clearing five highway lanes on the congested eastern transport corridor.

It would also increase public transport trips by 29,000 per day, displacing 25,000 car trips, while travel time would be reduced by 100 minutes to Traralgon.

A benefit to cost ratio of almost $2 returned for every $1 spent on infrastructure was also estimated.

Hypothetically speaking, a bullet train service between Adelaide and Melbourne stopping at Ballarat Station could deliver Ballarat commuters to Melbourne in less than 18 minutes.

“It’s critical that we understand what high speed rail is doing in other countries,” Mr Moran said.

“I think people are cynical about it (but) this is a solution and it’s inevitable.”

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