A joint report that took two years has found that a high-speed rail network connecting Australia's east coast from Brisbane to Melbourne could be completed in just 11 years.
High-speed rail (HSR) has always seemed like a pipe dream for Australians, which is a little on the ironic side; such large distances as ours would benefit greatly from reduced travel times, while much smaller countries have been making use of HSR for some time. And it wouldn't affect just the speed of getting from A to B: HSR has been demonstrated to be deeply beneficial to the environment, greatly reducing car and aeroplane usage.
According to environmental think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, building such a network would be eminently feasible. For two years, the group has been working with the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute and the German Aerospace Center to put together a report on how an HSR network in Australia could be achieved — and how it would benefit the nation.
According to the report (PDF), a network running 1799 kilometres between Brisbane and Melbourne, with a hub at Sydney and 18 other stops along the way for a total of 21 stops, could be built in just 11 years at a cost of AU$84 billion.
With seven major cities and 11 regional centres on the line, more than 60 per cent of Australia's population would be within 50 kilometres of a HSR station, and regional centres would be no more than one and a half hours away from a major city via HSR. According to the proposed timetable, a straight trip from one end of the network to the other would take just under six hours.
"With the proposed High Speed Rail network operational in 2030, the reduced air travel demand would require 82 fewer daily aircraft movements than the current average of 850," the summary reads. "Once high-speed rail is operational it is estimated that it will account for 30 per cent of passenger kilometres travelled."
By 2030, the HSR would reach full passenger capacity, bringing in an estimated AU$7 billion in fare revenue. It can also run on 100 per cent renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from regional travel by 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
You can read the full report here (PDF).