I thought about this thread overnight and make the following comments. Have we in Australia become too focused on the fiscal return of nation building projects such as this?
Why do we constantly find ourselves arguing over the merit of projects in dollar terms rather than the economic and social benefits of such a project?
NBN is a good example of a project that when complete the NBN provide enormous benefit to all Australians.
I don't feel the same vibe when it comes to the HST project which in my view is an essential project for this country. Railways need to become more competitive for the travelling dollar, why should we prevent this? The project is CHEAP in terms of the longer term economic, environmental and social benefits.
Australia has become lazy, disinterested and companies and politicians have become even more selfish about how money should be allocated. Just look at the garbage east west road tunnel in Melbourne. We have been bypassed by most if not all of the western world in a very many areas including education and transport.
Tell me, what are the economic, social and environmental benefits of the east - east road tunnel?
Construction of the HST Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne will create a lot of jobs and provide considerable long term benefit to the people of this country. We need to move into the 21st Century in terms of infrastructure and thinking!
I see your point, but everything has value and with a fixed amount of funds,ie how much taxpayers will pay. The question to b asked is this the best value for nearly $100,000,000,000 of taxpayers money? What else could we do that will give a greater return to the population. NBN is not for off in cost, but nearly every Australian will benefit.
You mention is this project essential for the country? The answer is probably No. The corridor even 100% rolled out is limited to barely 50% of the population and probably even less users. Will the trains be used enough to justify a frequency that makes it attractive to be used, probably not.
Next question, we have a viable airline industry that has limited cost to the taxpayer, yet this project will completely undermine their bread and butter, yet will still loose money, lots and probably wipe out at least one major airline in the process! Yes some people don't like flying, really this is not a taxpayer issue.
HSR has been rolled out in France and parts of Europe and Asia where population densities and city spacings are much closer together. Current HSR technology is still too slow for Australia. At best Syd-Mel will be comparable with flying, In Europe it was often a lot faster than flying due to security and other issues.
Its not viable for commuter use.
The pollution argument is marginal
The sectional times promoted challenge even the fastest sectional times in France over much longer distances. I suspect wheel on rail technology maynot be the technical answer for Australian HSR and Maglev will eventually win with enough time, however Maglev is too expensive currently. They need to remove around 50% of the cost.
So for $100,000,000,000 of my and every other Ozzie's tax, what else could we do that will actually deliver greater value not just as a once of capital but on going. Remember with HSR, its unlikely to even break even on operating costs and will require ongoing support.
Imagine $100B thrown at commuter, regional and interstate conventional rail. Everyday probably another 500,000 people travelling to work by rail. Real value to society including SA, WA and Tas and reduced pollution because you are replacing cars and busses with trains. Probably another 20-50mtpa of freight on rail, replacing trucks with trains and reduced pollution and less accidents. The ongoing cost to the taxpayer would probably be far less than HSR. Regional rail, which would be ignored by HSR would also benefit and would see increased use. Syd-Can would be improved to provide a MSR connection.
Outside rail, I'm sure there are other things as well, such as new energy sources etc.
Yes HSR will add some value to Australia, but I think there is a lot more things that for the same price will add much more. It would not be smart if I could travel from Mel to Syd in 3hr, by-passing much of the regional users along the way with the taxpayer picking up at least 50% of the fare and then a connection to Dubbo would take longer and meanwhile 90% of interstate freight from NSW to Mel and Bris goes via Road because the interstate follows the same path the surveyors mule did.