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The VFT rides again!

By johnboy 19 September 2010 40

The Age reports that the ancient mirage of the Very Fast Train has again been sighted with the federales ponying up $20 million to look at the idea again.

Worryingly there’s feature creep before a sleeper laid with the trunk route of Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne now sprouting Brisbane and Geelong.


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The VFT rides again!
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Pandy 8:46 pm 20 Sep 10

“Total investments in new rail lines including HSR reached $49.4 billion in 2008 and $88 billion in 2009.[15] In all, the state plans to spend $300 billion to build a 25,000 km (16,000 mi.) HSR network by 2020.”

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_China

Now that is Chinese prices. Times that by 10 for Aussie prices and then you start to get the indication of what it would cost to link the main cities of Australia from Townsville to Perth and 7,000kms of track

Pima 6:19 pm 20 Sep 10

If anyone wants a bit more information check out the wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_Australia

(If it doesn’t work just type in “high speed rail in Australia” and it should work)

The article contains a map of the east coast showing possible stops, routes, along with geographic issues, history etc.

dvaey 3:44 pm 20 Sep 10

Funky1 said :

Had to be in Sydney the other day before 8:30am. To do so (and be sure to give myself plenty of time), had to fly out of Canberra at 6:20, so had to be at the airport before 6:00am (more like 5:40am). Then when I arrived at Sydney I was able to take the express train to Central.

You were lucky. Some airlines close check-in 45min before departure time. This means for a 6:20 flight, the check-in desk closes at 5:35. Also, the departure/arrival time is takeoff/landing time, so allow an extra 15min taxiing to/from the terminal.

Funky1 2:29 pm 20 Sep 10

Had to be in Sydney the other day before 8:30am. To do so (and be sure to give myself plenty of time), had to fly out of Canberra at 6:20, so had to be at the airport before 6:00am (more like 5:40am). Then when I arrived at Sydney I was able to take the express train to Central.

Would have been more than happy to step on a train at say 7:00am, to have it arrive at Central by 8:30.

Plus with regards to freight, aren’t they conducting a study at the moment to build at major terminal out near liverpool?

p1 2:12 pm 20 Sep 10

deye said :

Use an elevated maglev track, the track can be made to a reasonably smooth grade while the land under it undulates.

Or dig a tunnel. And over long enough distances, you save travel times by not having to follow the curvature of the planet.

🙂

deye 1:43 pm 20 Sep 10

DeadlySchnauzer said :

The problem is that as cities get more and more built up, it becomes harder and harder (read more expensive) to find land for the level/smooth pathways to the centre of the city that are needed for a VFT.

Use an elevated maglev track, the track can be made to a reasonably smooth grade while the land under it undulates.

Gungahlin Al 1:16 pm 20 Sep 10

Grr bloody tags…

Gungahlin Al 1:16 pm 20 Sep 10

p1 said :

mutley said :

Seriously though, I am all for a seriously large infrastructure project in this country. At least then, in 20 years when we look back at the massive national debts we all owe, and the huge reduction in quality of life which has occurred, at least we will have a good train system.

Build a train or build another airport. It’s one or the other. The point of the first article was that the second airport would cost $15 billion (although CT made a teensy little error pricing that as $15 million). So you can have your debt with a more sustainable and cheaper to operate rail system or you can have it with massive GHG emissions, security, airfares and more.

Meanwhile China is rolling out more fast rail in the next 6 years than the whole rest of the world has already…

DeadlySchnauzer 12:40 pm 20 Sep 10

People shouldn’t get excited. This thing appears every few years for a feasibility study and then gets killed based on cost. The problem is that as cities get more and more built up, it becomes harder and harder (read more expensive) to find land for the level/smooth pathways to the centre of the city that are needed for a VFT. If it was too expensive to build into the centre of sydney in the 1980’s, its going to be a gajillion times more expensive now.

Anyways heres a nice chronology from the parliamentary library of the VFT shmozzle circa 1981-1998: http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bp/1997-98/98bp16.htm

Its all just a bit of history repeating…

BimboGeek 12:28 pm 20 Sep 10

The Canberra to Sydney flight sucks on something seriously foul.

The plane barely gets up in the air, nowhere near a nice comfortable cruising height then has to descend (unless there’s fog). They use little noisy aircraft (I’ve bruised an eardrum on a short domestic flight) and the whole thing shakes around making you sick if you get dizzy easily (same problem here!)

It’s almost worth catching a train or bus already if you need to be in Sydney reliably, particularly if you’re starting and finishing in the CBD and factor in travel time to/from the airport at each end as well as arriving 45 minutes before the flight and getting out of the airport with all your stuff (you may have to check baggage items).

As discovered with my geeky companion on a recent train ride to Sydney, the train unfortunately doesn’t have a lot of network coverage at the moment so everyone’s dreams of being able to read the RiotACT throughout their trip, I mean “work,” would be smashed all over the rails, but in general terms the train is quite cool and a VFT line makes SO much sense (or even an express one like the Victorian “Sprinter” when I was little).

monomania 11:54 am 20 Sep 10

A fast train becomes more viable if potential development between the Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney is taken into account and the increased land values somehow be returned to the project. I think this was a consideration when the project was first proposed.

p1 11:24 am 20 Sep 10

mutley said :

Can we have VFLightRail? Then the rail nerds will spontaneously combust

If we make it light enough, it will be able to fly. Then, can run these new VFLR(F) trains from airport to airport…

Seriously though, I am all for a seriously large infrastructure project in this country. At least then, in 20 years when we look back at the massive national debts we all owe, and the huge reduction in quality of life which has occurred, at least we will have a good train system.

mutley 11:09 am 20 Sep 10

Can we have VFLightRail? Then the rail nerds will spontaneously combust

p1 9:50 am 20 Sep 10

If the money that has been spent on every feasibility study on a VFT over the last fifty years had been placed in a savings account, we would have enough to pay for it now.

Postalgeek 9:18 am 20 Sep 10

Well, sooner or later, the need for an alternative to petroleum-reliant aircraft is going to become an imperative rather than a viability study.

Pandy 9:17 am 20 Sep 10

“remove all domestic air travel and replace it with electric rail”

So I will be able to catch a train from Canberra that takes me to Launceston across a big bridge?

What about taking train from Sydney to Mt Hotham?

outdoormagoo 9:07 am 20 Sep 10

Felix the Cat, I am not sure how often you fly in winter but I have done it 3 times (6 if you count return trips) in the last 4 months. Each time to Sydney on an early morning flight, and the quickest from entering Canberra (not quite) International Airport and exiting Sydney Airport was just under 2.5 hours. The longest trip was just over 5 hours after my flight was cancelled due to fog.

Only one of the Canbeera-Sydney flights was on time. One was delayed due to fog and one was cancelled due to fog. One of my return flights was cancelled due to fog and the other two were on time.

On a foutrth occasion I booked the flight and it was cancelled, they offered me a flight that would get me there at just after 12pm. I cancelled my ticket since I needed to be at a meeting at 9am, so it was a waste of time.After that I gave up and drove to Sydney because it meant I would get to where I needed to be at the time I needed to be there.

I would love a VFT to Canberra, at least it will get me there on time unlike Qantas and Virgin Blue.

deye 1:53 am 20 Sep 10

additionally if you read the Zero Carbon plan for Australia http://beyondzeroemissions.org/zero-carbon-australia-2020 they want to remove all domestic air travel and replace it with electric rail. Personally I think they have Buckley’s chance of doing that, but even if they were to convince people to do part of the plan it would add to VFT’s viability.

deye 1:50 am 20 Sep 10

The 300 km distance makes the Sydney – Canberra part the perfect starting point. It seems to me that having Parliament here would mitigate the need for a large population as there is a fair amount of government related travel between the two places.

dvaey 12:16 am 20 Sep 10

Felix the Cat said :

Even traveling at 350km/h it’s still going to take about an hour to get to Sydney which is a similar time to what an aircraft does it in.

And who is going to pay for it? Govts don’t seem to like paying for infastructure these days (eg motorways and tunnels) so it will be up to a private company to build it.

Firstly, the drive to Sydney hasnt been 350km for a long time. Even a greyhound bus will get to the outskirts of Sydney in under 2hrs, so 1hr would allow for a couple of stops.

Secondly, maybe you missed the whole federal government infrastructure program thats been talked about for many years? Besides, why not just funnel the money into railcorp and have them manage it?

Felix the Cat said :

Not to mention wearing out the brakes of the train as it slows down for towns multiple times from 300km/h.

deye said :

Given our susceptibility to morning fog at certain times of the year it would make more sense to take the train for business day trips.

Good point except this probably only happens half-a-dozen times a year.

I havent been following the technology used with these trains, but VFTs tend to be powered by magnets and would use the same for braking. You dont slow down 200 tons from 300km/hr, with brake pads.

Having been on a late night flight into Canberra (7pm) that was turned away due to fog, and the fact that we’re still getting foggy days 3 weeks into spring, I think maybe youre new to Canberra winters.

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