Some extracts from the report:10.3.2 Improving regional and interstate publictransport
Over the next 10 years, the XPT fleet used on long distance rail services will approach the end of its economic life. A decision will need to be taken on whether the substantial investment required for new rolling stock is justified given very low regional rail patronage, or whether alternative approaches should be a priority.
Alternatives could include greater use of coach services or service sharing on some routes with Great Southern Railway, a private sector operator of interstate passenger trains. These options may be more economically viable and could provide faster journey times.
The very limited role rail plays in regional transport leads Infrastructure NSW to conclude that the case for
investment to reopen historic railways lines to passenger traffic will need careful assessment on a case by case
basis and is unlikely to be viable in most cases.
Infrastructure NSW has not assessed any of these proposed projects due to the absence, at this stage, of
sufficiently detailed business cases. Transport for NSW is currently assessing the proposed reopening of the
Casino to Murwillumbah rail corridor.and10.3.4 Assessing the potential for high speed rail
The Commonwealth Government has been considering the potential to develop high speed rail services between
Melbourne and Brisbane via Sydney. By definition, most of this infrastructure would be in NSW.
Project proponents argue that high speed rail could transform connectivity along the east coast, open
up regional areas for development and improve the productivity and competitiveness of Australias economy.
The success of similar projects in Asia and Europe is often noted. This debate is not new. The Hawke
Government considered the opportunities for a scheme in the 1980s.
The proposed scheme is expensive ($68 $108 billion). Operating costs (due to the long distances noted) would also be high, relative to air travel.
A commitment of this scale requires a high degree of certainty that it will achieve its identified objectives. To date, Infrastructure NSW believes the case has not been made as to why a rail option would provide such transformative benefits that it would compete with aviation, even with a heavy subsidy. High speed rail services are most competitive with short haul air travel where journey times are around three hours or below.
These journey times are challenging to achieve along the east coast using proven technology as the major capital cities are so far apart. By way of comparison, the distance from Paris to Lyon, one of the worlds most successful high speed services, is 465 kilometre, whereas the identified route from Sydney to Melbourne is 823 kilometre and that from Sydney to Brisbane 821 kilometre.
In addition, there is a trade off between offering faster end to end journey times, which implies fewer
intermediate stops, and the achievement of the perceived regional economic benefits.
For these reasons, Infrastructure NSW does not see high speed rail as a priority for State investment over the
next 20 years. Incremental improvements to the existing National Highway Network and intercity rail lines, reflecting
our first things first approach, should take priority.