Citizens Electoral Council - Election 2016 - Enact Glass-Steagall


Australian Ring-Rail

Australian Ring-Rail

Published in The New Citizen, February 2002

Australia’s rail sector must be revolutionised, both for the sake of transport within our country, and also to tie Australia into the rest of the world, in particular into the world’s greatest population centres, at the eastern and south-eastern Asian terminals of the Eurasian Land-Bridge. This revolution will have two axes: Prof. Endersbee’s proposal for a Melbourne-Darwin Asian Express, and a vast upgrading and expansion of Australia’s rail network centring upon the new magnetic levitation (mag-lev) rail technology pioneered in Germany, and which is now being built in China.

Our nation’s rail sector at present is a pathetic shambles, so bad that the 2001 Australian Infrastructure Report Card prepared by the Institution of Engineers, Australia, a very conservative, understated body, rates it at D-, with the crucial Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane rail corridor rating an F, due to “poor track co-ordination, steam age alignments and inadequate signalling and communications systems.”

With the exception of rail lines built expressly to service mineral deposits, most of Australia’s rail system was built at the turn of the 20th Century. The report of the federal Parliament’s Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and Microeconomic Reform, Tracking Australia warned in 1998, “Without urgent and substantial investment in this infrastructure, major sections of the national rail network are likely to become irretrievable within ten years. In this context, the rationale for increased investment in rail infrastructure has to be about averting the potentially enormous costs of diminished or defunct rail services between major cities on the eastern seaboard, including increased road construction and maintenance, and the negative externalities associated with large and growing volumes of road traffic.”

That report was three years ago, and, under privatisation and competition policy with the exception of the beginning construction of the Alice Springs-Darwin railroad, the rail system has not improved significantly since. The “negative externalities” in the report refer to the horrible figure of $15 billion per year lost in road accidents on overcrowded, deteriorating roads along with an estimated $13 billion annual loss due to congestion, which is expected to rise to $30 billion by 2015. Only a tiny fraction of the nation’s passenger traffic moves by rail, and, since 1975, rail’s share of interstate non-bulk freight has declined from 60% to 35%, even as the trucking industry is suffering record rates of bankruptcies and psychological and health problems associated with horrific working hours. Between 1975 and 2001 the Federal Government spent $43 billion on roads and a miniscule $2 billion on rail, even though for medium and long distance, rail is an inherently much more efficient mode of transport. Therefore, we must plan to spend some tens of billions on the industry over the next ten years, both in upgrading existing lines, but in particular in building the Asian Express and a mag-lev grid tying together all of our major population centres.

The Asian Express

Development Corridors

A Maglev rail system

Go Vacumn Maglev! (Published August 30, 2011)


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