Adelaide must be in high-speed rail loop
- From: AdelaideNow
- January 31, 2011
SOUTH Australia should sit up, take notice and claim a seat at the table of the federal inquiry into high-speed rail.
The initial inquiry, due to report by July this year, risks freezing SA out of the picture for a major piece of nation-building infrastructure.
SA has long battled to keep pace with the more populous eastern States and a high-speed rail network that literally leaves Adelaide out of the loop would seriously disadvantage us.
This issue and others affecting SA are examined in the SA Business Monthly lifout in The Advertiser on Tuesday.
The high-speed rail project is a long way off but just as it took many decades to go from wishful thinking to reality for the Alice Springs to Darwin rail track, a high-speed rail network linking the capitals will eventually be built.
In the decades ahead, petroleum prices will soar, making car and air travel considerably more expensive. Coupled with greenhouse gas concerns, this will accelerate demand for rail as an alternative. In pushing our case, SA should enlist an unlikely ally Melbourne.
While Adelaidians frequently compare their city to Melbourne, the Victorians' real rival is Sydney.
It should be pointed out to Melbourne that with a network extending to Adelaide, Melbourne would be a node equal to Sydney, rather than the last stop at the end of the line.
Victoria could also be sold the benefits of Horsham becoming the only stop on a Melbourne-Adelaide route. This would open up the western Victorian region that would otherwise risk becoming isolated.
SA has a proud history in the rail sector, being home to some of the most important and innovative rail organisations, such as the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Obviously, it would cost many billions of dollars extra to include the link to Adelaide and it would not be an easy case to mount on strict profit criteria.
But if we do not get in there and stake a claim, future generations will condemn us as we get left behind when the economic benefits of the project begin to flow.