Sydney to Melbourne, or Brisbane, in under three hours: that’s the promise of Australia’s high-speed rail line, according to a Government study to be released today.
Carrying a stunning price tag of A$114b, the line wouldn’t be complete until around 2060, although the primary Sydney-Melbourne leg would be running as early as 2040, following the opening of the Sydney-Canberra line in 2035.
The 1,750km of dedicated high-speed track would would run down the east cost from Brisbane to Sydney, then turn inland to reach Melbourne, with a short spur line for Canberra.
Express train, or all stations...
Apart from the capital city stops, other stations along the route would include the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the NSW central coast, the NSW southern highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.
Express services would reach speeds up to 350km/h with estimated travel times of 2h44m between Sydney and Melbourne, with five express services every hour – yes, not every day, but every hour.
Three to four express services per hour would zoom between Sydney to Brisbane in 2h37m, with one Sydney-Canberra fast train every 60 minutes taking just over an hour, while Sydney to Newcastle would be a 39 minute sprint.
The express runs would be supplemented by 'regional services' stopping at all stations along the route, travelling at between 200-250km/h.
Assuming fares similar to current airfares, it’s predicted the line would grow to carry 84 million passengers per year by 2065, with two-thirds of users being business travellers.
Almost 18.8 million passengers per year would use the line between Sydney and Melbourne and a further 10.9 million between Sydney and Brisbane.
The high-speed line would steal as much as 40% of air travel on the Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne corridor and 60% of regional air travel.
Despite the enormous cost, the study – initiated by the Federal Labour Government and backed by the Greens – claims the line would eventually pay its own way and also deliver “a net national economic benefit of $2.30 for every dollar spent”.
If you're keen to take a deeper dive into the proposed Australian bullet train, click here to download the full report [41MB PDF].
The long road to high-speed rail
Construction of the Australian HSR line would begin after a 15 year lead-in of planning, pre-construction and procurement of necessary lands.
The line includes some 144km of tunnels, almost half of that being in the Sydney basin in order to skirt the city’s development sprawl, which would cost $33bn or almost one-third of the overall price tag.
First cab off the rank would be Sydney-Canberra, recommended to begin building in 2027 with first trains running in 2035.
The extension to Melbourne would open five years later, with other links added in five-year intervals.
As airlines around the world face increasing competition from superfast train services for short-range travel, an Australian firm has thrown its thinking-cap into the ring with a bullet-train capable of hurtling between cities at up to 400 kilometres per hour – that's almost 250 mph in the old currency.
Inside the Aussie bullet train
Australian design firm Hassell has already revealed its futuristic concept for the Aussie bullet train.
Hassell calls it the Australian High Speed Vehicle or A-HSV, in a nod to Australia's iconic Holden Monaro HSV high-performance car.
Hassell sees the double-decker carriages adopting a modern and spacious open-plan design for passengers, along with private berths for business meetings or those who just want to work without interruption.
That said, it reminds us of the spacious lounge areas, bars and even in-flight gyms originally planned for the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 before the commercial reality of fitting a maximum number of bums on seats took hold.
But as far as pictures go, they're very pretty indeed... as is this two-minute video clip produced by Hassell to showcase their concept train.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.