ARA calls for freight on high speed rail

The potential for freight on a proposed $114 billion high speed rail corridor has been overlooked: ARA

ARA calls for freight on high speed rail
ARA calls for freight on high speed rail
July 1, 2013

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has criticised a lack of consideration for freight on a proposed $114 billion high speed rail corridor on Australia’s east coast.

In its submission to the Phase 2 High Speed Rail Implementation Study, the ARA proposes the Federal Government re-explore freight opportunities on the proposed rail network.

The high speed rail (HSR) network would be about 1,748 kilometres of dedicated route between Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne.

The ARA’s submission says the nation’s freight task is growing and all options for using rail should be examined.

"Lightweight freight trains, running at say 250 km/h, could run on the HSR track offering a journey time of around four hours between Sydney and Melbourne or Sydney and Brisbane," the submission says.

The submission says overnight operations could be very attractive to consigners of high-value, light freight.

The submission adds that the French postal service already uses high speed trains, and there are plans in Europe for more high speed freight operations.

"A service for high-value freight could not be matched by road transport and would contribute to the objective of increasing rail’s market share, taking trucks off our interstate highways, reducing the wear and tear on roads, creating safer roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," the submission says.

According to the ARA, the volume of freight moved in Australia is growing steadily and has been predicted to double by 2030 from 2010 levels.

"Moving freight from road to rail is a policy of many governments but road still carries up to 95 percent of freight between Melbourne and Sydney and Sydney and Brisbane," the submission says.

The ARA has also raised concerns
regarding the proposed cost, development timeframe, links to airports, and regional benefits of the HSR, and has called for the rail project to be put to market as soon as possible.

ARA CEO Bryan Nye (pictured) says the inter-governmental agreement needs to be completed much faster than the study proposes.

"High speed rail is the one intergenerational project that will transform Australia and after decades of debate, we cannot afford to delay," he says.

"The priority should be putting the project to market to formally test its viability within the private sector. This will have two benefits; it will deliver the project at a lower cost and achieve a faster implementation."

Nye also recommends alternative funding options be explored for the long-term project.

"Governments around the world are using alternate funding options to finance projects and we should be doing the same here," Nye says.

"This could include real estate value capture along the route and around stations, acquiring larger parcels of land than required and selling it back to developers, airport alliances and transport oriented developments."

In 2010, the Federal Government committed to a study on the implementation of HSR on Australia's east coast.

The study, managed by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport,
has since been
undertaken in two phases.

The first phase of the report was launched in 2011. Phase two of the report was released in April 2013.

The report notes the preferred alignment for the network includes four capital city stations, four city-peripheral stations, and stations at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The project is proposed to be fully operational from 2065.

The estimated cost of constructing the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety
about $114 billion, in 2012 dollars.

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