1. What is a realistic time-frame?
Past experience shows that HSR must be presented to the public with realistic and achievable timeframes. My research indicates that 10 years would most likely be required to complete a HSR section as follows:
- a. two years to form a business case and tender,
- b. two years for environmental and engineering study and public consultation,
- c. five years for construction, and
- d. one year for testing and evaluation.
However, concurrent activity and the construction of sections requiring minimal tunneling significantly reduce that period. The Central Coast – Newcastle section and the Canberra – Southern Highland sections could be built faster, within 7 years.
I therefore propose to present the following timetable for section completion:
a. by 2020. Planning/Tendering complete, Construction underway: Sydney – Central Coast – Newcastle and Sydney – Southern Highlands – Canberra;
b. by 2025. Fully operational: Sydney – Central Coast – Newcastle and Sydney – Southern Highlands – Canberra
c. by 2025. Planning/Tendering complete, Construction underway: Newcastle – Port Macquarie – Coffs Harbour and Canberra – Wagga Wagga – Albury
d. by 2030. Fully Operational: Coffs Harbour – Lismore/Casino – Brisbane and Albury – Melbourne.
The above plan caters fairly for affected NSW voters as the line proceeds incrementally both north and south of Sydney. If adjoining states and the Federal government can be brought on board, we will see HSR on the Australian east coast by 2030!
2. How do we pay for HSR?
The 2013 HSR Report estimated cost of constructing the preferred HSR alignment in its entirety would be around $114 billion (in 2012 dollars). It is also what we hand out in ONE YEAR in tax concessions (estimated to grow to $150 billion per year in 2 years.)
Variability in the anticipated cost of HSR has served to cloud the issue for years. The estimate accepted by Bullet Train for Australia is that proposed in the Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) HSR Report 2014 of around $80 billion.
Whilst nothing is certain, recent information indicates that we might assume most of the cost could be funded by private investment from either the approximately $1.8 trillion held in Australian superannuation portfolios, and/or foreign investment. However, we will assume only $20 billion will be privately-funded, leaving $60 billion to be funded by government.
Since the majority of proposed HSR infrastructure is located in NSW, we further assume that the Victorian and Queensland governments are likely to fund only in the order of 30%. That leaves the NSW government a $42 billion cost spread over the next 15 years or $2.8 billion per year.
With an engaged Federal government willing to share equally in the funding of large infrastructure projects, the cost to NSW could be further reduced to $1.4 billion per year.
Partial funding for that amount could possibly be derived through the cautious privatisation of State assets and a restructuring of Railcorp finances to encompass HSR. The remainder would need to be borrowed.
Therefore, with a NSW annual budget of $65 billion, the cost of HSR to our state can reasonably be expected to be around 1% per year. The current 2014 NSW government is proposing to spend at least $60 – 80 billion over the next 4 years on infrastructure alone. This most recent NSW budget and asset sale plans make no reference to HSR planning and development, whatsoever!
It has also been suggested that a model adopted by some overseas countries where the government bought the land, and the private sector developed the infrastructure and associated commercial development, might also work here.
I hope this is an encouraging rough estimate for everyone who reads this. The biggest immediate challenge is to get people into the government who truly want to make this vision a reality. The other challenge we will face is how we bring Federal money into this deal.
Some recent international examples of ambitious creation of high speed rail systems are:
- Spain’s program of extending HSR across the country, in eight years from 2005 to 2013 bringing over 2550km of new HSR line into service, on seven new lines connecting a total of 31 cities and towns.
- Taiwan HSR line, which began construction in March 2000 and opened in Jan 2007 in just under 7 years. This example is notable as while the line was only 350 km long, approx 300km is either in tunnels, on bridges and on viaducts, a major construction challenge. The proposed entire HSR network for Australia would require only180km of elevated structures and tunnels.
- The 1318km Jinghu railway from Beijing to Shanghai was constructed in just three years from April 2008 to opening in June 2011. Whilst this experience would not be expected to be fully transferable from China to Australia, it does highlight how rapid construction rates could be.
“The time for studies has passed. Now is the time to commit to high speed rail and begin implementation: moving immediately to corridor protection, creating a dedicated Authority, opening the project to private sector innovation—and turning the vision into reality.”
“If Australia chose to prioritise the implementation of High Speed Rail, a ten year timeline, while ambitious, would be possible.”
What are we waiting for!
HSR is an expensive project but it should be viewed as a Snowy Mountains Scheme for the 21st century. We should be pursuing an inclusive user-friendly sustainable energy public transportation future. We should not have to wait any longer. This is the 21st century and it is time we got this plan on the fast track.
The groundswell of interest continues to maintain momentum through the use of social media and the work of a few dedicated individuals. However, we realize that to keep the vision of HSR on the political agenda, we have to pursue the election of our members as Independents to the NSW government, so we may increase our profile and lobby for essential Federal funding. Ultimately this is a Federal project, but it can only happen with the full support of state and local governments.
In relation to getting an Independent elected, we understand that within the current NSW electoral system, the chance of actually getting voted into Parliament as an Independent is close to zero. However, with 14 other members we can have our own Independent Group voting block, making it easier for people to find and vote for a Bullet train for Australia. At least we can still keep people talking about the immense benefits of HSR on the east coast of Australia.
Actions always speak louder than words, and in the spirit of former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, “Go for it Australia — and now!!”
After all: It’s not just a train, it’s a future
I, Trevor Anthoney, hereby confirm my intention to run as an Independent Candidate for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 2015 State Election.
Please jump on board and send any feedback, advice or offers of support to:
Only through your help can we hope for a successful outcome. Together we can help to get this country moving.
M 0406 964 560
Bullet Train for Australia
Upper House Candidate for NSW 2015 State Election