Saturday, September 6, 2014

High Speed Rail Cheaper Than Albanese Thinks

Beyond Zero Emissions has an article on how to reduce the cost of the proposed east coast high speed rail link - High Speed Rail Cheaper Than Albanese Thinks.
Transport minister Anthony Albanese is trying to derail the promising High Speed Rail option before it even leaves the platform, according to climate solutions think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions.

“Mr Albanese appears to have decided to write off this nation building project before even releasing the report which he has been sitting on for four months,” said BZEs Zero Carbon Australia Transport researcher Gerard Drew. “It is time to allow the public to consider the proposal. It’s unacceptable for the government to dismiss this publicly financed research before the costs and benefits have been shown.”

BZE, in partnership with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), has analysed high-speed rail route options for Melbourne to Brisbane to arrive at a significantly lower cost figure than the Phase 1 AECOM study for the government, released in 2011.

“Based on the first study, we think that a price tag at the lower end of AECOMs costing range is what we should expect from the high speed rail network”, said Mr Drew. “Mr Albanese has declared that the alignment has got to be in a straight line which is certainly false. This assumption can inflate the project cost by a huge degree by unnecessarily forcing it through adverse terrain. For example, a kilometre of tunnel can cost more than 10 times as much as track on flat ground.

The joint BZE-DLR study suggests that less than $70 billion is very reasonable for the highest-demand route from Melbourne to Brisbane, based on a more careful track alignment to avoid costly terrain.

AECOM’s routes appear to take the most direct route possible between stops. The BZE/DLR analysis indicates that allowing more flexibility to avoid difficult terrain could reduce the civil works cost of the rural sections by around 40% with negligible increases in journey time.

Image: Mapping the path of least resistance (dark blue) and precise route with optimised horizontal curvature (light blue), including bridges (purple) and tunnels (dark red)

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