28 November 2012 — High speed rail between Melbourne and Brisbane would remove the need for a second airport for Sydney, a report commissioned by Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt says.

The report, High Speed Rail: Benefits that add up, says there would be $48 billion in benefits from a rail network along the east coast including time saved by consumers, congestion savings, accident reduction and pollution reduction.

The report says high speed rail lowers greenhouse gas emissions because it substitutes for flying, primarily, and driving.

“Even running on electricity that is mostly generated by coal fired power stations, HSR produces much lower GHG emissions than flying or driving. In its first year of operation, 2036, HSR is expected to reduce net GHG emissions by some 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, of which about 1.1 million tonnes relates to avoided airplane flights and 0.2 million tonnes relates to avoided car journeys,” the report says.

“That’s the equivalent of taking 365,000 cars off the road. This has a value of $140 million per annum, in 2011 dollars, in the first year of full HSR, valued at $2.2 billion over thirty years.

“Pollution savings arise because of lower noise and atmospheric pollutions from HSR because it is electric rather than powered by diesel or petrol, like cars, buses and conventional trains. Avoided pollution is valued at about $4 million per annum.

“HSR delivers time savings to Australians who can switch from two or three hour car trips to 50-minute HSR trips as part of a comfortable daily commute. Those travelling longer distances to regional areas make much larger time savings, as well as travelling with more productivity and comfort.

“HSR trains are generally equipped with internet access, meeting coaches and spacious seating. These time savings have been valued at $1.34 billion per annum in 2011 dollars or $31 billion over the first 30 years of operation of HSR.

“HSR delivers congestion savings to roads and airports. As a result of HSR, some 3.6 billion passenger kilometres will be diverted from car trips to trains. This will lead to a decongestion benefit on roads near the HSR. This has been valued at $66 million per annum or 1.1 billion over thirty years. “

The report also said HSR would lower accident costs, estimated about $260 million a year.

Australian Greens transport spokesperson and NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon said the report’s analysis shows that high speed rail could decrease congestion at Sydney Airport, saving $10 billion – the avoided cost of a second Sydney airport.

“High Speed Rail could have a two-fold benefit to Sydney Airport congestion – substitute for 30 per cent of forecast 2036 passenger trips and transport 10 per cent of passengers to Canberra Airport from where they can fly to their final destination,” she said.

High speed rail could substitute for about 24 per cent of Australia’s total domestic air kilometres, with 22.7 million passenger trips diverted from Sydney to high speed rail in 2036, or 63 per cent of the 36 million actual passenger trips at Sydney Airport in 2010/11, Ms Rhiannon said.