Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Bullet Train to Somewhere

By Ian Lowe

A strong case has been made for a high-speed rail network passing within 50 km of 60% of Australians.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

An exciting plan for high-speed rail along the eastern corridor of Melbourne–Canberra–Sydney–Brisbane is the centrepiece of a new strategy for low-carbon transport. Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has held a series of launch events featuring leading politicians to promote the scheme.

Having travelled on the Japanese bullet train nearly 50 years ago and used the modern high-speed rail systems in Europe more recently, I am an enthusiastic supporter of the technology. It is fast, comfortable and potentially much better for the environment if the power comes from renewable energy.

The proposed Australian system would link the four capitals but would also serve the cities of Newcastle and Gold Coast, as well as 12 regional centres, six between Brisbane and Sydney with another six between Sydney and Melbourne.

A detailed analysis estimates the capital cost as $84 billion, including a fleet of 87 trains to allow services every 10 minutes at peak hours. BZE says that the network could be operational by 2025 if there was political commitment.

BZE estimates that the journey times of less than 3 hours from Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane and attractive fares of around $100 would see airline traffic between those cities drop from the current level of about 60 million to about one-third of that, with the majority of travellers using the train system, as has...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.