In Transport

Gillard Government High Speed Rail Cost Claims Unbelievable

Victor P Taffa

The announcement by the Gillard Government that High Speed Rail would cost $114 Billion and take 45 years to construct is a disgrace and comes as no surprise to anyone. The study cost $20 Million and quite frankly is an embarrassment to all logical thinking people.

The sad fact of life is that both the Federal Labor and Liberal Parties do not want High Speed Rail. How it cost $20 Million to do a study into something is beyond all rational minded people. Australia used to build projects. Australia used to have a ‘Can Do’ attitude. The Gillard Government is a shameful disgrace.

Australia’s Railway Systems were thankfully built by Colonial State Government’s and not the Federal Government. The Federal Government has too much bureaucracy and is too far removed from the lives of ordinary people to be much good to anyone.  Admittedly some Federal Government’s have achieved some good and built some projects including:

  • The Hughes Government built the Transcontinental Line between Sydney-Perth in 1917;
  • The Menzies Government standardised the Sydney-Melbourne Rail Line in 1962;
  • The Howard Government completed the Alice Springs-Darwin (Palmerston) Line in 2003.
  • The Chifley Government began the Snowy Mountains Scheme that took 25 years to complete due to its size from 1949-1974.

Sydney would not need a second airport if any Government got off its backside and built High Speed Rail between Brisbane Sydney Canberra and Melbourne. If any Government decided to build High Speed Rail 40% of air travellers would switch to using High Speed Rail.

Australia does have a system of single track railway lines between all mainland capital cities except Adelaide and Darwin. Interstate trains to Adelaide terminate at Keswick and Interstate trains to Darwin terminate at Palmerston. Where is the vision and policy impetus to duplicate and electrify these railway lines? The problem with High Speed Rail in Australia is that Federal Government’s seem to think that Australia needs the Rolls Royce version of High Speed Rail.

If this was not bad enough all Government’s have buck passed and weaved from duplicating the Pacific Highway.

In contrast the Baillieu and now Napthine Victoria Government’s are getting on with the job of railway improvements in Victoria. Train and Tram upgrades and expansion are occurring. The Regional Rail Line is being built day by day as we speak. The Barnett Government in Western Australia is rapidly completing the sinking of the city railway lines. The Beattie Government in Queensland built the Tilt Train.

The Federal Government and Opposition need to come out and commit to building High Speed Rail at an affordable cost to build and within a few years. If the Hughes Government can build the Transcontinental Line in 1917 with manual labour why can’t the Gillard Government build High Speed Rail? Similarly the Snowy Mountains Scheme was built with manual labour.

In 1813 Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth crossed the Blue Mountains. The Zig Zag Railway was constructed before the current western railway line to Mount Victoria. If terrain is the problem for High Speed Rail well our forefathers managed to overcome these obstacles and succeed. Colonial State Government’s got on with the job and built railway lines. Again where is the drive and policy initiative to build High Speed Rail?

Australia is the largest island continent in the world. Australia needs a fast and reliable system of rail transport to move people.

Our founding fathers had vision when they inserted the clause that Federal Government’s build Railways in the Commonwealth Constitution.

Perhaps Australia gives away too much money in foreign aid to do what has to be done at home.

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