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Opinions - facts - issues - listen, learn and discuss at AuHSR High Speed Rail Mini Conference

So many opinions about High Speed Rail in Australia . . . here are some of the critical issues with a sample of reader comments from a recent Guardian Australia article:

Pipe dream or essential national infrastructure ? Waste of money or transformative national project ?

"No one will ever see a fast train in Australia. Not. Going. To. Ever. Happen !"

"Its terrific to see this become a prominent issue. People have been crying out for a decent rail system for years. Europe, China, Japan are examples of fast rail. Why not Australia ? And most of the country is flat!"

Can't compete with road and rail ? Or can out-compete both of them ?

"Not this old chestnut. The numbers do not add up and never will."

"SYD-MEL is ALWAYS in the top four busiest air routes - in the world. The business case is overwhelming."

"Not long after French Railways introduced their first TGV between Paris and Lyon, Air France abandoned that route as a lost cause. There is a lesson there for us."

"There are an insane number of domestic flights in this country every day and no realistic plan for moving away from using fossil fuels. Have used Shinkansen extensively in Japan and it is such a convenient way to travel, you can get to a station a few minutes before train leaves from the centre of the city with no need for all the rigmarole of check-in, security, baggage reclaim. It is also way more comfortable and less mind numbingly boring with an actual view out of a large window and the ability to have a wander and stretch your legs."

Between which cities ? Connecting regions with intermediate stops or intercapital expresses ?

"Starting with the most expensive part [ Sydney - Newcastle ] is dumb."

"Shepparton, Albury/Wodonga, Wagga Wagga. Goulburn. All could grow. Add a new city or two where young people can actually afford houses. Current 1/4 of a million could easily be 1 million plus. Especially if they had good transport links to Sydney/Melbourne and their airports. How do they get good transport links? Fast passenger rail would do it."

"Well, 10 years ago John Alexander (Bennelong MP) chaired an HSR inquiry. He spent half an hour telling me about what he found ... that HSR would benefit regional towns it passed through, allowing people to move to cheaper properties yet commute to the cities."

"HSR would bring Albury-Wodonga and other towns to its south (depending on the route) into commuter distance from Melbourne, thus relieving property prices and traffic in what is now Australia's largest city."

Running on new dedicated track ? Or on the existing track with bypasses of the worst sections ?

"We would be far better served by incrementally improving the existing corridors by ... straitening the line... building a new corridor into Canberra etc. Not hard just tackle sections like they did with the Hume and Pacific Highways between Melbourne/Sydney and Brisbane over the next 30 years."

"Totallly disagree. Upgrading existing lines will cause chaos and only bring 19th century rail transport into the 20th century and not even create ANY future opportunities or attract new business."

All too hard and expensive? Or We can do it! And we can afford it!

"Where will these trains terminate ? No room at Central or Flinders St. There is a lack of population centres of any size between the two big cities. The capital cost would be astronomical."

"Imagine if all the money spent on freeways had instead, been put into infrastructure for rail."

"If countries like Indonesia can do it then surely Australia can. Australia is long overdue for a big vision Prime Minister and a government that will make it happen."

"Of course it’s expensive to build but so is all infrastructure, it’s an investment in our societies and future. The benefits to people and the planet far outweigh the costs. Please make this happen!"

"So bored with all the excuses."

"Australia is an archaic backwater of Boomer Luddites and conservative thinking."

To get beyond opinions ranging from weary cynicism to wild optimism and to better understand the critical issues, please join us at the Australian High Speed Rail Association (AuHSR) High Speed Rail Mini-Conference.

The conference is to be chaired by AuHSR Director Joe Langley with senior ABC journalist and broadcaster Tracey Holmes as Master of Ceremonies.

Venue: Sydney Masonic Centre 66 Goulburn St, Sydney.

Date and time: Tuesday 25th June, 2 - 6pm

Tickets are still available - $80 for members and for public sector and non-profit attendees, $125 for non-members. To book, go to the event booking page on Humanitix.

By the way, the Guardian Australia article from which we quoted comments is here.

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