There are a few positive advances that can be noted regarding the growth of railways as the main carriers of long haul freight in the years ahead, and for their expanding role in handling increased passenger traffic in areas of heavy population.
The Australian Government has taken a further step forward in its planning for high-speed passenger rail between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by authorising additional work on its feasibility. As this railway will eventually take air traffic out of our skies and reduce congestion at our major airports, this is good news.
AECOM has been appointed for Phase Two of the study, and will report to Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, later this year. Let me predict that our first high-speed train will run between Sydney and Newcastle Airport at Williamtown by 2020.
At the same time, the British Government has announced plans for a high-speed railway to be built connecting London to Birmingham, a journey which will take only 50 minutes. You would be lucky to travel from downtown London to Heathrow airport and get yourself through the check-in counter in that time.
Further good news is that the track will be continued on to Manchester and Leeds at the earliest possible date.
This indicates that the Cameron/ Clegg government is showing its mettle by making some visionary decisions.
The economic rationalists and environmentalists are, highly predictably, screaming loudly in their predictions that both projects will run at heavy losses and be scars on the landscape.
The former need to accept that the day of their original philosophies is quietly passing, and they need to readapt their strategy to the cold hard fact that, in an over-populated world dominated by poverty, you can’t insist that everything must be run at a profit, or we will descend into a state of constant revolutions. Employment and the provision of services has to be the first objective of any nation.
Sadly, economic rationalists still hold the outdated view that it’s better to keep a person on the dole than give them a job that may not generate a profit. Environmentalists should leave their cars at home as their best contribution to improving the health of the planet.
I think that most of you are aware that I am Chairman of the ATEC Rail Group, originators of the concept of an Inland Railway from south to north, and may I thank all of you who have sent me emails asking for a progress report.
I am pleased to advise that the Surat Basin Railway, of which ATEC Rail is a one third shareholder and I am Chairman, is progressing forward to achieve Financial Close during the third quarter of this year. Known as The Southern Missing Link, it is 220km in length and will link the QR tracks between Wandoan and Banana in the Surat Coal Basin.
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