High Speed Rail:-
The Australian Government is currently considering a High Speed Rail (HSR) track between Brisbane and
The proposal to build a High Speed Rail track between Sydney and Melbourne was first mooted in the mid 1980s but
was never been found to be financially viable in the three studies undertaken between 1986 and 2001.
AECOM Australia Pty Ltd and its Study Team (sub-consultants Grimshaw, KPMG, SKM, ACIL Tasman, Booz & Co and
Hyder) submitted its Phase 2 report to the Government in April 2013.
This report estimated the construction cost at $64 billion for the Brisbane - Sydney track
and $50 billion for the Sydney - Canberra - Melbourne track, a total of $114
In this report, they state:-
"Governments would be required to fund the majority of the upfront capital costs."
"The potential to attract private finance is limited. An expected return of at least 15% would
be required at this stage of project development to be attractive to commercial providers of debt and equity
to major infrastructure projects. HSR would fall well short of this.".
Given the current state of the Australian Government's finances, it will be a challenge for it to find the money
AECOM's projected construction schedule is:-
| Brisbane-Gold Coast
| Gold Coast-Newcastle
In other words, it will be over 44 years before you can travel on HSR between Brisbane and
Melbourne, presuming, of course, that there are no delays as is usual with Government projects of this size and
Most of us will be dead by then.
In contrast, the estimate for equivalent MonoCab VRT track for Brisbane-Sydney is $4.7 billion
and for Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne is also $4.7 billion, a total of $9.4
The MonoCab VRT track returns a healthy profit for all segments WITHOUT any Government subsidies for either
construction or operation.
This makes MonoCab VRT a viable proposition for private enterprise. All the various Governments have to do
is pass the necessary legislation to allow track constuction.
Although MonoCab VRT is virgin technology, it is anticipated that a Brisbane-Melbourne MonoCab VRT track would
be operational well before 2027. The driver for this will be the healthy financial returns
available to the private sector.
The MonoCab VRT tracks will generally be constucted along existing highways, utility easements and the
like. Acquisition/resumption of land will seldom be required.
There will be no major earthworks or drainage works required. In general, the only earthworks
required will be the excavation for the column footings.
One aspect of HSR that hasn't had any attention by the media is the noise level of the trains as they
pass. Overseas experience shows that the noise levels, measured at 25 metres from the track, are in the range
of 86 - 97 dB(A) dependent on the particular train/track combination and the train's speed (250 - 350
km/h). Ear protection is a requirement in industrial situations when the noise level exceeds 80 dB(A).
Noise levels from MonoCab VRT will be much lower. All vehicles have pneumatic tyres that run on a steel
rail. The wheels are fully enveloped by the vehicles' body work, hence any noise is contained and can be
controlled by appropriate insulation. As the tracks will generally be constructed along existing
highways and arterial roads, it is expected that the MonoCab VRT vehicles will not increase existing traffic noise
Safety of HSR is another concern. A significant portion of the track will be constructed at ground
level. Consequently, it is possible that people and animals will gain access to the track regardless of
fences and the like that may be erected for protection.
Our understanding is that there will also be level crossings which could produce an extreme result as depicted
in this news item.
This is interesting as rail providers are generally working towards getting rid of level crossings.
It should be borne in mind that a six car HSR train weighs in the vicinity of 300 tonnes and has steel wheels
running on steel rails. When travelling at 300 km/h, it takes a significant distance to stop.
MonoCab VRT has none of these problems as the track is a minimum of five metres above ground. There is no
interaction with people, animals or road vehicles. Braking performance will be similar to road vehicles.
Maintenance costs of the HSR track are significant. The track alignment, vertically and
horizontally, has to be kept within very tight tolerances to prevent a high speed derailment. Just
imagine the damage a 300 tonne train travelling at 300 km/h would do if it derailed.
Information from Spain indicates that this maintenance cost is in the order of $115,000/km per year.
The estimate for the MonoCab VRT tracks is $7,000/km per year.