Session coverage by guest blogger Alexander Sheko
- Presented by Geoff Moran (LinkedIn)
- Location: Room Three
- Time: Session #1 (11.00am - 11.35am)
- Number of Attendees: 14
- Format: Presentation
Jeff Moran is a civil engineer with 30 years of experience in state government, working on projects related to high speed rail and a rail link to the airport. He now has his own transport consultancy which advises local governments.
Jeff advocates for High Speed Rail in Australia as a necessary and justified investment in our national transport infrastructure. Importantly, High Speed Rail has much lower fuel use and carbon emissions than travelling by plane or car. It can carry more passengers longer distances than other modes for the same energy use - counter-intuitively it is more efficient than regular trains despite the greater speed (and air resistance) because there are more people travelling at the same time and there are fewer stops.
A report commissioned by the previous Labor government found that High Speed Rail had a positive cost benefit ratio and could be delivered from the 2030s. The preferred alignment would be inland between Melbourne and Brisbane, with spur lines to Canberra and the Gold Coast. The only stops in Victoria would be in Melbourne, Shepparton and Albury-Wodonga (which is on the Victorian/NSW border).
There would be a mix of express and “regional” services, with most services being expresses. Unlike some systems in other countries, there would not be a focus on commuter services e.g. commuting between Melbourne and Shepparton.
Jeff has done some work for councils in Gippsland flowing from the fact that a potential corridor through that area on the way to New South Wales was ruled out at an early stage in the investigation. The study looked at the potential for stations at Dandenong, Pakenham, Warragul and Traralgon, with frequent services (10 minute frequencies in peak, 20 minutes at other times). It would be possible to get from Melbourne to Traralgon in 58 minutes, compared to 2 hours and 17 minutes on the existing V/Line service, even with stopping all stations.
This study used the Veitch Lister Consulting Zenith Model, which has been used for planning other major transport projects such as the Melbourne Metro and the East West Link. It found that HSR would attract 113,000 trips weekly, carrying 2,000 people per train in the morning peak, reducing car trips taken by 25,000 per day.
This alignment (Melbourne to Canberra via Gippsland) would be 670km and cost $30.2b compared with 611km and $26.9b for the route preferred by the federal government (via Hume). There would be potential to progressively commence services to Dandenong by 2021 and Traralgon by 2027, compared to services planned to start in 2040 for the Hume corridor option.
There would be a number of benefits according to economic modelling of the value of time saved, as well as greater energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions. Jeff’s study disagreed with the federal government report on the topic of commuter services, arguing they do provide economic benefits and allowing for services to be progressively rolled out. However, this would require a rethink regarding alignment and station locations.
A number of questions were asked by participants, such as the extent to which the system would duplicate or make use of existing regional rail infrastructure, and how these services would integrate with metropolitan/suburban services. There was a lot of interest in understanding how such a system would work, and also some cynicism as to whether such a system could work and be a worthwhile investment. Jeff was able to explain the technical aspects of how such systems run, making reference to other systems such as in Europe and Japan.
We can learn from systems that are currently in existence in countries such as China, by looking at the benefits that have arisen as new systems have been developed. For example, there are benefits in managing the growth of mega-cities to avoid massive urban sprawl, which will be very important in the context of significant population growth - with Australia’s population projected to reach over 60 million by 2101. There would be the potential to create new cities along the rail corridor and develop regional Victoria to take the pressure of capital cities such as Melbourne and Sydney.
“The main reason for building [HSR] is not speed, but capacity - to give a heart bypass to the congested arterials of our transport system” - Patrick McLoughlan, British Transport Secretary.