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Melbourne to Brisbane in six hours
August 4, 2011 2:44 AM   Subscribe

Australia's federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport has released an initial report into the prospects of building a high-speed rail link joining the eastern states. The report (which may be found here) lists a number of potential corridors joining Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, and gives the total cost of building the system at AUD100bn. The resulting system would allow journeys between Melbourne and Sydney (currently the world's fourth busiest air route) in just under three hours, and Sydney and Brisbane in a further three. Tickets between Melbourne and Sydney would be priced at AUD99 to AUD197, with Sydney-Brisbane tickets being slightly cheaper.

The report offers a number of possible corridors for the line. The Melbourne to Canberra leg would either follow the existing Hume corridor to Albury, then diverting via Canberra, or take a coastal route through Gippsland. North of Sydney, the route would go to Newcastle, and then either go inland through the New England Tableland (not far from the existing Sydney-Brisbane railway line) or take a coastal route, going through Coffs Harbour and the Gold Coast. The report recommends the inland corridor between Melbourne and Sydney and the coastal corridor from Newcastle to Brisbane.

This report is the latest instalment in the history of high-speed rail plans in Australia, and the most detailed so far. While it had been commissioned by the minority Labor government under pressure from the Greens, the proposal now has the support of all major parties. The next phase is a Phase 2 report, due in a year's time; if all goes well, services may be running between Sydney and Newcastle by 2020 and Melbourne and Sydney by 2025. Some commentators, however, are arguing for the Melbourne to Sydney leg to be built first, for reasons of demand.
posted by acb (50 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like a great idea. Spend a hundred billion dollars so people in 2025 can spend three hours on a train traveling from Sydney to Melbourne when, right now, they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes.
posted by joannemullen at 2:57 AM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want this to happen so badly. We should gave had fast rail years ago.
posted by gomichild at 2:58 AM on August 4, 2011


they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes

plus half an hour and $40 at each end for a cab to/from the CBD.
posted by russm at 2:59 AM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sounds like a great idea. Spend a hundred billion dollars so people in 2025 can spend three hours on a train traveling from Sydney to Melbourne when, right now, they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes.

That's $39 (or, actually, $69 when I took the flight last) plus cab/bus/train fares to/from the airports, and 90 minutes + 40-60 minutes travel time to/from airports + 30 minutes check-in time + the time it takes to disembark.

Also, airfares are hostage to oil prices, which aren't going to go down. Unless they invent practical battery-powered airliners, rail will have an advantage here.
posted by acb at 3:02 AM on August 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


actually, the cheapest MEL/SYD on the virgin website in the next few weeks I could see is $88. so that plus $10 at each end if you do the cheap skybus option and you have an extra wait at each end for the bus. you know, I'd rather catch the train from Spencer St. to Central Station...
posted by russm at 3:04 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Furthermore, high-speed rail will have other advantages over air travel. Air travel is point to point, whereas rail has stops along the way, serving regional areas. Rail powered by cleanly generated electricity has a much lower carbon footprint than air (especially short-haul flights, which spend more of their time at more fuel-intensive lower altitudes). (Rail powered by coal-generated electricity is dirtier, but still cleaner than air.)

Also, the inflexibility of rail lines (which can't be removed or moved easily) is an economic advantage in that it provides more of a guarantee to areas served, encouraging investment. And high-speed rail is a driver of regeneration and development. In France, when they built the TGV lines, they found that a lot of provincial towns, which suddenly found themselves linked to Paris within an hour or two, started attracting Parisian commuters, and boosting their local economies. The same is likely to happen to, say, Goulburn or Albury when the Melbourne-Sydney line runs through them.
posted by acb at 3:08 AM on August 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


whereas rail has stops along the way, serving regional areas

that'll put Canberra on the map!

I kid, I kid.
posted by russm at 3:11 AM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


actually, the cheapest MEL/SYD on the virgin website in the next few weeks I could see is $88. so that plus $10 at each end if you do the cheap skybus option and you have an extra wait at each end for the bus. you know, I'd rather catch the train from Spencer St. to Central Station...

Especially if the train has onboard WiFi and laptop power. You know, like many of the modern high-speed trains in Europe. (Main lines in Britain and Sweden provide these, to name two countries.) I can see that being a big selling point to everyone from businesspeople to backpackers. Meanwhile, in-flight internet has been a long time in arriving, and even if it did, having to put your laptop away for the first 10 and final 30 minutes would somewhat defeat the purpose.
posted by acb at 3:12 AM on August 4, 2011


can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes.

You have a bit of a struggle with facts, don't you?

modern high-speed trains in Europe

Telling a French woman how long the Wellington<>Auckland trains take to run was embarrassing.
posted by rodgerd at 3:26 AM on August 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd buy a ticket. For sure.
posted by awfurby at 3:41 AM on August 4, 2011


rogerd: Trains?
posted by Kiwi at 3:46 AM on August 4, 2011


they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes.

The London–Paris link of the Eurostar carries 80% of traffic between the two destinations, despite either price parity or being the more expensive option.

The CEO of Eurostar gave a lecture in 2008 about why this is. A few of the reasons were rather obvious.

1) It is not a 1 hour plane flight to Paris. It is a 1 hour journey to Heathrow, a 1+ hour 'security experience' at Heathrow, a 1 hour flight to Paris, and a 1 hour journey into Paris. Without checked baggage, obviously. Thus, the actual transit time is 4+ hours. Which is actually in parity with Eurostar...

2) ...with heaps less frustration. The two key groups he identified as frustration-driven were business travellers and parents of small children. In both groups, people are willing to pay a premium for simplicity and reduction in frustration.

Looking at the Eurostar train itself, kids can move about quite easily rather than continually kick the chair of the exhausted salesman in front of them.

3) Environmental impacts. Obvious but worth mentioning. The Eurostar is able to continually reduce it's environmental impact by switching fuel supply from carbon electricity to renewable sources. That is something no airline is capable of doing yet.

Overall, the $39 cheap fare to X is a bit of a marketing ploy, because it costs way more than $39 when all the costs are included, not to mention the ongoing rise in environmental impact from budget air travel.

Wherever they put high-speed rail in, the aviation industry takes a substantial hit because, for reasonable distances, there is no comparison in the experience. Rail wins hands-down. However, being that most rail projects are state-owned or PPP and most aviation are quasi-private companies, it's easy to see why rail has such a problem being accepted. It makes less money overall -- precisely because the costs are lower, overall.
posted by nickrussell at 3:50 AM on August 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Yes, snark at the pro-air commenter and point out the fallacy of their comparison.

But... the article has a link to the busiest air routes in the world and 4 of the top 10 are internal Japan routes, a country not exactly known for its slow rail network. So it does seem a fair suggestion that an awful lot of people are going to carry on preferring the air route even if the train raises its game.
posted by samworm at 3:54 AM on August 4, 2011


But... the article has a link to the busiest air routes in the world and 4 of the top 10 are internal Japan routes, a country not exactly known for its slow rail network. So it does seem a fair suggestion that an awful lot of people are going to carry on preferring the air route even if the train raises its game.

The top two Japanese air routes (Tokyo-Sapporo and Tokyo-Fukuoka) are between different islands, without Shinkansen links between them. Which tells us only that the HSR network won't bite into Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Hobart air traffic significantly.
posted by acb at 4:10 AM on August 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Telling a French woman how long the Wellington<>Auckland trains take to run was embarrassing.

A Japanese friend of mine once caught the train from Sydney to Canberra. When I met her on the platform she was shaking with barely suppressed fury at how ridiculously slow it was. Sadly this high-speed train thing will never happen; as long as oil is still relatively cheap people will prefer to fly, and when oil stops being cheap this kind of giant engineering project will just be too expensive. But they'll be building new roads right up until the point where they start having to harvest the bitumen to run agricultural machinery.

(I'd love to be proved wrong, of course.)

The top two Japanese air routes (Tokyo-Sapporo and Tokyo-Fukuoka) are between different islands, without Shinkansen links between them.

Actually you can catch the train from Tokyo to Fukuoka via Osaka (it goes through a tunnel under the sea). But at five hours it's getting pretty long for a train journey. The third top Japanese air route is Tokyo-Okinawa though and I don't think they're going to build a tunnel there. I bet the fourth (Tokyo-Osaka) is mostly transit passengers, and business travellers who missed a seat on the Shinkansen.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:22 AM on August 4, 2011


I bet the fourth (Tokyo-Osaka) is mostly transit passengers, and business travellers who missed a seat on the Shinkansen.

I once flew from Heathrow to Paris-CDG. The only reason I did so was to catch a connecting flight to Barcelona. In contrast, I've caught the Eurostar to Paris about half a dozen times.
posted by acb at 4:25 AM on August 4, 2011


3 hours CDB to CDB seems a no brainer to me, never mind electricity vs avgas, buffet car vs tray table, and scenery vs blank sky. I hope it goes forward.
posted by adamt at 4:36 AM on August 4, 2011


Melbourne can't even build a train from the airport to downtown.
posted by smackfu at 4:44 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a great idea. Spend a hundred billion dollars so people in 2025 can spend three hours on a train traveling from Sydney to Melbourne when, right now, they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes.

Biggest mistake you, people, businesses, everyone makes, is that during the good times when everything is easy and your life is charmed, is when you need to be preparing for the bad times and building your safety nets, because when the bad times come - and they always come because nothing is forever - you might no-longer have the resources needed to respond. Bad times are doubly bad because they're bad, and the badness hinders your ability to cope with the badness.

Many people already assume that these are the final days of a golden age of commercial air travel. When fuel costs double, or triple, or more, and ticket prices multiply with them, and fewer people can afford to fly, and do so for fewer reasons, and the routes get squeezed because fewer people are flying, so to keep solvent fewer planes can go in the air, and prices rise still further because there isn't the huge market to spread the other overheads thin, if your economy depends on cheap air travel for commerce and travel when that happens (and it's going to happen, it's just a question of how bad how slowly) then your economy will suffer... which will feed back and make air travel suffer more, which will feed back... and so on.

High speed rail is future-proofing the country and the economy. It's an investment in building a better tomorrow.

High speed rail is going to the dentist and getting a filling now, instead of balking at the cost and ending up instead with a far more expensive and destructive root canal and a crown a few years down the track. Taking the smaller financial hit now and getting a filling now also means you can comfortably eat healthy food again, instead of soft processed crap.

Some things are so sensible it's crazy not to do them, even though they're unpleasant.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:46 AM on August 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


the busiest air routes in the world and 4 of the top 10 are internal Japan routes, a country not exactly known for its slow rail network.

You also need to consider that Japan has more people crammed into fewer hubs than countries with comparable population. In the USA, population is mostly spread thin among many many hubs, which results in lots of routes, which results in those routes being not as busy. It's not hard to imagine train travel in Japan being twice as good as air travel and the air routes still being massively crowded there.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:56 AM on August 4, 2011


Melbourne can't even build a train from the airport to downtown.

Canberra can't even build a train.

We can build giant owl/penis statues, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:10 AM on August 4, 2011


Rail powered by cleanly generated electricity

I wish. Pick your dirty. Japan and France have less carbon load, but much more nuclear. Most of the rest are primarily powered by fossil fuels.

You can posit a future with no pollution electric vehicles, but it is just a posit. Hell, if anything, with nuclear power now firmly off the table, clean and low carbon is going to be very hard.

Calling electricity clean isn't true if it was made in a fossil fuel plant, doubly so if it is a older coal plant.

Having said that, mitigating the pollution of 1000 coal plants is much more feasable that mitigating the pollution of millions of fossil fuel vehicles. But currently, that mitigation is rare, even where it is required, thanks to grandfather clauses.
posted by eriko at 5:36 AM on August 4, 2011


I live in London and I have NEVER flown to Paris (or Brussels) but I've been to each numerous times on the Eurostar. Its awesome and so much more pleasant than the the hassle of getting to and from airports and waiting around at airports.

If the High speed Train runs from Central Station in Sydney to Central Melbourne in 3 hours then it would be awesome compared with the plane. Melbourne Airport is out in the Middle of nowhere. Airports are dreadful places and you spend half your time waiting for security queues.

Train travel just feels so much more civilized and pleasant.
posted by mary8nne at 5:39 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hell, if anything, with nuclear power now firmly off the table, clean and low carbon is going to be very hard.

That is assuming that all current and future forms of nuclear power are forever off the table. A more realistic assessment would be that early-1970s-vintage nuclear technology like that used in Fukushima is something to get rid off as quickly as possible, whilst more modern forms of nuclear fission under development (passively cooled pebble-bed reactors, for example) remain a possibility

Also, even if nuclear power is politically unpalatable, Australia has a lot of potential for solar power. Fill the desert with molten-salt solar collectors and solar chimneys (with greenhouses concentrating heat, which rises through a long chimney, driving turbines along the way), and you can generate a lot of electricity, pretty much all year round.

Having said that, Australia also has a lot of coal, which has until now been the cheapest option. Which is where the carbon price comes in.
posted by acb at 6:09 AM on August 4, 2011



If the High speed Train runs from Central Station in Sydney to Central Melbourne in 3 hours then it would be awesome compared with the plane. Melbourne Airport is out in the Middle of nowhere. Airports are dreadful places and you spend half your time waiting for security queues.


That it would be. In part, I'd miss the sleeper train that currently runs (AUD208 for first-class sleeper accommodation between Sydney and either Melbourne or Brisbane is a pretty sweet deal). Though, for some odd reason, that runs at rather unreasonable times. (The Sydney-Brisbane trains leave at about 4:30pm and arrive before 6AM.) Still, a 3-hour journey would be more convenient by far. Perhaps if they have a bypass track around Sydney, they could run a Melbourne-Gold Coast-Brisbane sleeper service, if demand exists.
posted by acb at 6:13 AM on August 4, 2011


I don't look forward to the demise of air travel, inevitable as it may seem. Cross-country travel in the U.S. takes several days over land. Instead of five or six hours of tolerable discomfort in the air, I'm looking at eighty plus hours in the same seat. I imagine AU residents have the same dilemma with routes from, say, Sydney to Perth.

Amtrak wants $320 for a one-way reserved seat for the U.S. cross-country routes, which in my case would be from Boston to Chicago to the Bay Area. Adding a sleeper room for the entire route is $1150, so... for one person to travel in some semblance of comfort — the ability to sleep horizontally at night — for three-plus days is about $1,500. (Adding a travel partner would drop that down to $900.) Now, double that cost for a round trip....

We need cheap, high-speed, clean-energy subsidized train travel, everywhere. The U.S. will become more isolated as fewer people venture past their home regions due to upward-spiraling costs. It may take the U.S. fifty to a hundred years to get there, what with unwinding complicated property rights and overcoming municipal/county/state legal roadblocks and troglodyte politicians... but I think we'll get there. I hope Australia has fewer obstacles.

Short-haul travel via high-speed trains is a good (and required) first step, of course.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 6:29 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Calling electricity clean isn't true if it was made in a fossil fuel plant, doubly so if it is a older coal plant.

Generally, it's called "cleaner", because even when it's made from the filthiest coal, it's generally still cleaner overall to use a power plant than it is to use a lot of engines. It's counter-intuitive, and it's not always true, just usually true. In this case, plane engines are fairly efficient, but air transport itself, somewhat less so. For trains, rails add some rolling resistance, but there is lower air resistance, and they can carry much more passengers and cargo per trip. Also, power plants have emissions filters, and planes don't.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:30 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love the idea but there are some issues with this that will be absolute pigs to resolve.

Acquiring a corridor for a new double-track rail line running north from Central to Hornsby will bring out the NIMBY-driven lawyers like nothing else. Those are some expensive suburbs to run a 200km/h train through and there are only a small number of possible routes on the Sydney-Newcastle leg. If they end up placing the Sydney terminal in Parramatta to avoid this (which looks like a real possibility from the report) then "CBD-to-CBD in 3 hours" is gone and the advantages in comparison to air travel fade.
posted by N-stoff at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Acquiring a corridor for a new double-track rail line running north from Central to Hornsby will bring out the NIMBY-driven lawyers like nothing else. Those are some expensive suburbs to run a 200km/h train through and there are only a small number of possible routes on the Sydney-Newcastle leg. If they end up placing the Sydney terminal in Parramatta to avoid this (which looks like a real possibility from the report) then "CBD-to-CBD in 3 hours" is gone and the advantages in comparison to air travel fade.

Running the train at a lower speed through a few expensive North Sydney suburbs won't impair its overall average speed by a significant amount.
posted by acb at 9:12 AM on August 4, 2011


The new high-speed rail link and flying aren't necessarily mutally exclusive: i believe the proposal includes a stop at Tullamarine airport, a rail link to which is vastly overdue.
posted by nml at 10:07 AM on August 4, 2011


The new high-speed rail link and flying aren't necessarily mutally exclusive: i believe the proposal includes a stop at Tullamarine airport, a rail link to which is vastly overdue.

The report doesn't recommend such a link, saying essentially that an airport rail link (which the Victorian government is doing preliminary studies into) would be a separate project.
posted by acb at 10:31 AM on August 4, 2011


I don't look forward to the demise of air travel, inevitable as it may seem. Cross-country travel in the U.S. takes several days over land. Instead of five or six hours of tolerable discomfort in the air, I'm looking at eighty plus hours in the same seat. I imagine AU residents have the same dilemma with routes from, say, Sydney to Perth.

No, Autralian travellers - and New Zealand ones - have, if there is a loss of air travel, a world in which we are once again months away from most of the bits of the world we'd like to visit.
posted by rodgerd at 12:11 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do we need still need to commute? I can understand for holidays or having trains for moving freight (instead of the enormously inefficient trucking networks we currently have in this country). But moving human beings around the place to .... meet other human beings, seems pretty wasteful on the whole.

Aren't we building an national broadband network? Can't we telecommute instead?
posted by a non e mouse at 3:23 PM on August 4, 2011


they can fly there for $39 dollars on Jetstar in ninety minutes

plus half an hour and $40 at each end for a cab to/from the CBD.


You can take public transport to the airport.
This is a good idea, but we already have budget airlines. If I managed to make the trip alone anyone can.
I loved taking a normal speed train to Melbourne. So relaxing.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:25 PM on August 4, 2011


That is assuming that all current and future forms of nuclear power are forever off the table. A more realistic assessment would be that early-1970s-vintage nuclear technology like that used in Fukushima is something to get rid off as quickly as possible, whilst more modern forms of nuclear fission under development (passively cooled pebble-bed reactors, for example) remain a possibility

Not in Australia, it seems.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:28 PM on August 4, 2011


You can take public transport to the airport.

Sure - bus to from the inner west to Central station: $3
Train from Central to the airport: $15

Plus waiting time, probably takes about an hour. A cab takes about 25 minutes, including traffic.

We have budget airlines now, but they're not going to last forever. They'll be killed off by oil prices eventually, or at least, they won't be 'budget' any more.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2011


acb: The report doesn't recommend such a link, saying essentially that an airport rail link (which the Victorian government is doing preliminary studies into) would be a separate project.

Damn! I saw some references to it (including on the Wikipedia page), and i started to hope :o(. Thanks for the correction...

Lovecraft In Brooklyn: You can take public transport to the airport.

Which public transport, to which airport? I don't know of any public transport that goes to Tullamarine. There are shuttle busses, but i don't think they're cheap. Sydney does have trains to its aiport, IIRC.
posted by nml at 3:34 PM on August 4, 2011


acb: Running the train at a lower speed through a few expensive North Sydney suburbs won't impair its overall average speed by a significant amount

Actually 200 km/h is the lower speed quoted by the report - outside urban areas they are aiming for 320 km/h.
posted by N-stoff at 4:24 PM on August 4, 2011


Aren't we building an national broadband network? Can't we telecommute instead?

You can't hug someone over TCP/IP.
posted by cheaily at 4:56 PM on August 4, 2011


Actually 200 km/h is the lower speed quoted by the report - outside urban areas they are aiming for 320 km/h.

I thought it was 350km/h, with the lines built to accommodate 400km/h.

What I meant is that having a line that goes from Sydney Central and is nobbled to go no faster than, say, 120km/h for the first five minutes of the journey north would be preferable to one that's stuck out in Parramatta, the unconvincingly dubbed "second CBD". (The most unconvincing "second" since commentators in the 1950s claimed we were living in the "Second Elizabethan Age".)
posted by acb at 4:59 PM on August 4, 2011


Contrary to what those living north of the harbour on in the boho enclaves of the inner west believe, Parramatta is only about 20kms out of the cbd. It's a 25 minute train ride on our current, shitty trains.

And guess what? Despite their lack of representation on mefi, west is where most of Sydney lives.
posted by smoke at 5:03 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Contrary to what those living north of the harbour on in the boho enclaves of the inner west believe, Parramatta is only about 20kms out of the cbd. It's a 25 minute train ride on our current, shitty trains.

And guess what? Despite their lack of representation on mefi, west is where most of Sydney lives.


Which is of little use to those travelling to Sydney, most of whom are going to the CBD or other points of attraction. Arriving 20km out of the centre and having to catch a connecting service negates a lot of the advantages of high-speed rail. Having this state of affairs in the largest, and central, city in the system would be a bad joke.
posted by acb at 5:30 PM on August 4, 2011


Which is of little use to those travelling to Sydney, most of whom are going to the CBD or other points of attraction.

Dude you're going to have to cite that, please. Surely at least half the arrivals at the airport are in fact people coming home?

Further - Sydney withstanding - arriving 20km out of the city is exactly what airport in every other capital in Australia barring Canberra do already. So, not that much of an impost.
posted by smoke at 5:49 PM on August 4, 2011


Dude you're going to have to cite that, please. Surely at least half the arrivals at the airport are in fact people coming home?

The problem is that "home" is spread out over a broad area. It is logically impossible for a long-distance transport terminus to be close to "home" for most people. Which is why it makes sense for HSR to terminate in a centre of activity (such as the CBD) with radial connections for short-distance onward journeys.

Further - Sydney withstanding - arriving 20km out of the city is exactly what airport in every other capital in Australia barring Canberra do already. So, not that much of an impost.

Which defeats one of the key advantages of rail over air, which is that you can put railway stations in central locations.
posted by acb at 5:58 PM on August 4, 2011


Further - Sydney withstanding - arriving 20km out of the city is exactly what airport in every other capital in Australia barring Canberra do already.

There's no way Adelaide airport is 20km out of the city. In fact, it's 7km from the centre of the CBD.
posted by crossoverman at 7:48 PM on August 4, 2011


There's no way Adelaide airport is 20km out of the city. In fact, it's 7km from the centre of the CBD.

And yet it's still quite inconvenient, if for example you live in the southern suburbs like Port Noarlunga, where the CBD is 40 minutes away by car. A train from Melbourne arriving in Adelaide Station and then a train to Noarlunga Centre could actually be quite handy.
posted by awfurby at 9:29 PM on August 4, 2011


Those are some expensive suburbs to run a 200km/h train through

[sits back, closes eyes, imagines the smoke, noise, and chaos, and gently smiles]
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:42 PM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to derail, but as an American who's following this HSR discussion with interest, can someone explain the west of Sydney references? My instinct is that these are middle-class, quiet suburbs -- somewhat like Chicagoland's suburbs vs. city -- but I'm not sure?
posted by andrewesque at 7:08 AM on August 5, 2011


With regards to the center-vs-outskirts discussion, one of the criticisms of Taiwan's High Speed Rail -- which is very pleasant and has killed most of the intra-island flights -- is that many of the stations, apart from Taipei, are located far from the city center and in the outskirts. In some instances, when I lived there, I opted to take the slower "normal" trains because they stopped in the city centers, which were way more convenient.

Of course, Taiwan is significantly denser and less suburbanized than Australia, but it does go to show that railway station placement is very important; given that most public transport networks tend to be radial and center-focused in nature, I think you need very good reason not to have a terminus in the city center. (Not to say you can't have another station in the suburbs/outer neighborhoods, of course.)
posted by andrewesque at 7:14 AM on August 5, 2011


> can someone explain the west of Sydney references?

This is a bit of a fraught subject, but I'll give it a go.

Sydney is on the east coast, with two large national parks to the north and south, and, further out, mountain ranges to the west. This gives us a sort of trumpet-shaped area of housing density.

The Sydney suburbs wiki page has a good map. (Here in case it gets moved.)

Because the CBD is on the harbour, and because people like to live by the water, the areas within 10km or so of the CBD are generally considered the most desirable and have the highest housing prices. (Though there are some exceptions.) There's thus a huge concentration of money in a relatively small area, and the suburbs to the west are typically lower-middle and working class. (Though again, there are some exceptions.)

Parramatta, in the west, is often called the demographic and geographic centre of Sydney, but it is not the economic centre. And that's where the tension is coming from. Do you have the HSR go through the demographic/geographic centre, or do you have it go through the CBD (Central), which is more convenient for tourists and the sorts of businesspeople who are likely to be making frequent Sydney-Melbourne trips?
posted by Georgina at 7:45 AM on August 6, 2011


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