'From ARTC's point of view they are maintaining a railway to run freight trains. There is no economic benefit to them to maintain the line to a higher standard than required to run their freight trains at a commercial speed.'AS far as I am concerned Victoria came within a hairs breadth of competely destroying the West line and therefore they SHOULD come up with the funds to repair the damage THEY CAUSED.
No; the issue is a great deal more subtle than this. I well remember speaking to a friend about this at the time. He was involved at a senior level in the negotiations, but not from either of the railways.
The core problem was the unexpectedly long period between the in principle agreement for ARTC to take over the West line and the actual formal agreement, and then the actual commencement of work.
The plan always was a complete rebuild of the West line from the roadbed up. This meant that as soon as the in principle agreement was struck, State expenditure on renewals and heavy maintenance on the West line ceased. Any money spent on this would have been an absolute waste, since it would all be thrown away when the line was rebuilt. This meant no sleeper renewals, no tamping, nothing. Only day to day maintenance was performed to correct track faults.
The West line deteriorated rapidly from this point, of course. Unfortunately, the negotiations dragged on for far longer than expected. This meant that the line deteriorated further than originally planned. V/Line managed this by progressively reducing the speed of the passenger trains. Once the track had deteriorated too far, they replaced the trains with buses and closed the line.
From the point of view of a Victorian taxpayer, I find it impossible to fault this logic or approach.
The story since then is, in a sense, exactly the same, but with the shoe on the other foot.
From ARTC's point of view they are maintaining a railway to run freight trains. There is no economic benefit to them to maintain the line to a higher standard than required to run their freight trains at a commercial speed.
Totally agree with the above. Australia cannot afford to maintain rail networks that can run passenger trains smoothly at high speed. The same problem exists in the USA. I have traveled quite some distance on AMTRAK in all regions of the USA, except the SW corner, and travelling at 80 MPH is quite an experience. Standing on the gangway between 2 cars you get a good idea how much the rolling stock bounces around. Obviously the track is safe enough but optimized for freight only. The NE is somewhat better because the passenger train speeds are higher.
By the time high speed rail becomes viable in Australia a technology such as Maglev might be the go or the Tesla Tube. In the meantime air travel will be the best high speed travel available, cars next and then trains providing a social service role.