Railways are far too complicated for Australians to build

Silly old Bob Brown thinks modern Australia could conceivably build a new rail link, just because it’s a good idea:

The Greens have renewed their push for a high-speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne. They are calling on the Federal Government to fund a 12-month, $10-million study to work out the best route.

Greens Leader Bob Brown said a rail link would reduce transport emissions and congestion.

Bob, modern Australia doesn’t build railways. We don’t care that on busy routes they’re better in every way than the alternatives. Instead, we build freeways that clog up with cars and add pollution, regular accidents involving serious injury and worse, dependence on oil, and a whole host of other problems. We encourage freight to travel by road instead of rail so that the Hume Highway can be a death trap of amphetamine-propelled trucks. It’s more exciting that way.


Boring.

Our ancestors may have had the magical power of railway building, but they were smarter people than we are. We don’t know how they managed to line rails of iron across the country with primitive technology – if the evidence weren’t all around us, no-one would believe it. Because it’s completely beyond modern Australia. We don’t build infrastructure any more, unless it’s being given to some private consortium that will gouge ordinary people for the next thirty years or so. In the short term – and that’s the only way we think – airlines will be able to undercut the slightly slower rail network. When the price of aviation fuel rises and air travel becomes increasingly unaffordable, then there’ll be a sudden huge global demand for railway-related resources – and THEN, when those prices are highest, THEN we might get around to eventually building something at vast inflated expense that we’ll then pass on to the public. But that “we” is not us – that’ll be our successors. So it’s not our problem.

Honestly, what is with the Greens and planning necessary infrastructure for our future? Don’t they get how politics works?

UPDATE: Of course, sarcasm aside, we do occasionally build railways – when heavy industry demands it, for example – it’s just that we’re terrible at doing it for actual travellers, where it would compete with the roads lobby and the airlines. (Still, at least heavy industry is prepared to let travellers subsidise their railways once they’ve got them built.)

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18 responses to “Railways are far too complicated for Australians to build

  1. I think it definitely makes sense to pursue more high speed rail options – and Sydney-Melbourne is the most logical starting point. Apparently the Sydney-Melbourne air route is the second or third busiest route in the world in terms of volumes of flights (crazy but true!), and is thereabouts in terms of volume of passengers moved as well.

    I guess this speaks volumes about our modern day aversion to large infrastructure projects. It would be nice to see the NSW and Victorian Governments actually try to work out a partial funding deal to get the ball rolling. The outcome
    would obviously be a significant boon to both cities.

  2. Wisdom Like Silence

    …Trains? Where’s my flying car?

  3. I like the idea, always have.

    I also like the idea of having stops at Melbourne, Wangaratta, Wagga, Canberra, Goulburn and Moss Vale, Campbelltown and Sydney.

    Doing so would allow for commuters to access the three major cities and revitalise the regional centres.

    Cheers.

  4. I am not sure about the sydney-Melbourne being the third busiest. The NYC Boston and NY Washington shuttles run a never-ending service. No bookings, no tickets just turn up and then pay on board. Then there are th elondon paris services etc etc.

    Anyway, having taken the london – Paris Eurostar I am sold on intercapital services. Centre of city to centre of city. How good is that.

    I could never understand how Sydney, with a population of about 1m could build all that railway infrastructure, the harbour bridge and other infrastructure. And they could man the stations, keep them clean and sell tickets. Then they took off all the staff and took the next 50 years to build the 5kms extension to Bondi Junction. Which was planned to loop by Bondi beach and around to Uni of NSW and then back to Redfern. Never happened!

    A high speed rail link Mel-Syd would make decentralisation so much easier.

  5. yeh this will never see the light of day…theres no money in a rail link

    any train consortium would have to compete with low cost airfares. and you rightly point out… we never build anything publicly

    myki and connex have shown us the cost savings (and efficiency) of private ventures!

  6. If a corporate giant larger than say Qantas or if Qantas wanted to build a high speed rail link then we’d have one, our govt and all previous govts (at least since I’ve been here) act on behalf of corporations rather than represent the electorate. Thus we get what the corporations want, roads and aircraft…

  7. Could you just imagine all the green nimby Inner City Types moaning about noise as the train raced through the suburbs into Southern Cross.

    That is the reason it will never happen.

  8. Hi innercitytype, I live in West Footscray, right by the Tottenham rail yards, you know, where they shunt trains. I vote Green, I have no problem living near this yard.

    There goes your stereotype.

  9. Tottenham rail yards where they shunt trains eh?

    Are they still shunting trains down there at 250km an hour?

  10. Fact of the matter is a high speed train wont make any difference to the noise levels, in fact I doubt it would be doing 250 km in Footscray and if it was then the noise wouldn’t be around for very long.

    Face it, you made a ridiculous stereotype and I exposed it, Green leaning people prefer rail to roads.

    [Are they still shunting trains down there at 250km an hour?]

    Hmmm maybe you just don’t understand, it isn’t one track, there are about ten different tracks, we have passenger and freight trains using it simultaneously, as well storing carriages that aren’t currently being used.

  11. Oh, I might add that many of us out here in the West are opposed to a road linking Footscray, Dynon and the Western Ring Road, this would be far more devastating to the community than more, better trains. (not to mention that addressing congestion by building more roads is unsustainable)

  12. First of all RobJ, you fit the stereotype perfectly.

    Secondly you yourself aren’t bad at sterotyping – “Green leaning people prefer rail to roads.”

    Thirdly you make me laugh with mirth like ‘the noise wont be around very long’ and actually not knowing the direction to Sydney with your comment about the train zipping through Footscray.

    Oh an good luck with your road protest, nimby.

  13. “First of all RobJ, you fit the stereotype perfectly.”

    Because I’m not a nimby?…..Riiiiight

    “Secondly you yourself aren’t bad at sterotyping ”

    OK, fair enough though I don’t know many ‘greenies’ who prefer road over rail for interstate travel. Could you name me some?

    “Thirdly you make me laugh with mirth like ‘the noise wont be around very long’ and actually not knowing the direction to Sydney with your comment about the train zipping through Footscray.”

    LOL – Of course I realise the direction of Sydney, just making it clear to you that there are already railways in Melbourne, it’s not like they’re new, it’s not like the one’s have now are silent. You know, you did raise the noise factor after all, just setting you straight.

    “Could you just imagine all the green nimby Inner City Types moaning about noise as the train raced through the suburbs into Southern Cross.”

    See (you raising the noise issue)^^

    “Oh an good luck with your road protest, nimby.”

    It’s got fuck all to do with being a nimby and everything to do with the fact that building more roads is dumb policy, we aren’t protesting against the rail link between Footscray and Caulfield because we think it’s a GOOD THING!

    “That is the reason it will never happen.”

    How naive are you? Since when did the Nimby’s stop the building of infrastructure?

    Desal….. Nope
    North/South Pipeline…. Nope.

    You should have quit when you were ahead…..except your original post was wrong and you were never ahead. Ah well, keep digging ;)

  14. I cant really be bothered going tit for tat with you nimby.

    Howver just let me make the point that the Desalination and North/South pipelines didn’t have inner city types sooking about the projects.

    Just people in the bush and they aren’t as important as you are.

  15. I cant really be bothered going tit for tat with you nimby.,/i>

    You mean can’t (not can’t be bothered), after all you are naive enough to believe that we wont have a high speed rail link because of nimbys, (LOL again) whereas I contend it has more to do with not fitting in with corporate desires, the same reason there is no rail link to the airport.

    “Just people in the bush and they aren’t as important as you are.”

    They’re your words, are you trying to put them in my mouth?

  16. Ooops, broke the tag..

  17. “They’re your words, are you trying to put them in my mouth?”

    Firstly let me attempt to remove your foot.

  18. The train to Sydney does go through Footscray.

    (Well it used to, I haven’t taken it for years.)

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