Lismore backs ‘pie in the sky’ high speed rail proposal

By Darren Coyne, Echonet Daily, 10/11/2014

A high-speed rail proposal was last night described as ‘pie in the sky’ but still received backing from a majority of Lismore city councillors.

Cr Simon Clough had put forward a motion to write to the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and relevant ministers supporting the proposal, which is detailed in a report by a German company and its Australian partners.

Cr Clough said the project, estimated to cost $84 billion, would link Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as regional areas including Lismore.

‘Lismore would be the third stop from Brisbane and it would open a wide range of opportunities for this city’, he said.

‘The proposed station would be near the showgrounds and the thing that appeals to me is the renewable energy aspect of it.’

‘It could be built in ten years’, he said.

High-speed rail: Australia could build network for $30 billion less, according to Beyond Zero Emissions

By James Law. From

IT could be faster than flying, good for the environment and be our next great “nation-building exercise”. But does Australia have the wherewithal to make an idea as big and expensive as high-speed rail a reality?

Climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions will present a report in Brisbane tonight that advocates for Australia to take up this major infrastructure challenge.

Its research finds that a high-speed rail network on Australia’s east coast could be built for $30 billion less than previous projections and the system would be faster, cheaper and cleaner than air travel.

A model system … Japan’s famous bullet train with Mt Fuji in the background. Source:

A Zero Emissions Manifesto for the Climate Justice Movement

By Tom Weis and Rev. Lennox Yearwood. From Huffington Post, 11/9/14

"Zero emissions is an ambitious but achievable goal."
--UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Zero has become the most important number for humanity. Why?

Any chance of stabilizing the climate hinges on transitioning to zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as humanly possible. Simply slowing the rise of emissions will not work. For the first time, the world's leading climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has embraced a goal of near zero greenhouse gas emissions or below.

Top military experts and government institutions like the U.S. Department of Defense and National Intelligence Council warn that climate destabilization threatens our national security, yet global emissions just keep going up. Leading biologists like E.O. Wilson warn that the sixth great extinction is now upon us, yet emissions keep going up.

By heating the globe at such a relentless rate, we are playing a deadly game of planetary Russian roulette. In the words of Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State University: "There is no precedent for what we are doing to the atmosphere. It is an uncontrolled experiment." If you believe your own eyes that climate chaos has already gone too far, the only logical response is to stop making things worse.

The freedom revolution to kill power bill confusion

By Stephen Bygrave. From Climate Spectator, July 22 2014.

With the amount of rhetoric flying around regarding electricity bills and energy in recent years, you’d be hard pressed to find any points of clarity amongst the noise. For the average punter with little knowledge about energy and politics, the public discussion is bewildering, however much their electricity bill may concern them.

Let's take a selection of assertions that have been made in the “expert” and partisan commentary on the energy market to illustrate some of these points:

  • Everyone acknowledges that we need to use more clean energy, but the Renewable Energy Target is too high.
  • The carbon price is destroying the economy and raising your electricity bill, but repealing it may not lower bills.
  • Power bills went up because your neighbours installed solar, but if you install solar, your power bill will go down.
  • Solar isn't reliable because the sun doesn't shine at night, yet the energy grid can't accommodate all the solar power being generated.
  • Clean coal is ready to roll but nowhere to be seen. Wind turbines, which are now quite visible in a number of locations, are sadly unreliable.
  • Wind turbines may make you sick, yet fires in coalmines are nothing to worry too much over.
  • Gas is low emissions, clean and cheap yet gas bills have started to rise sharply.
  • Fracking is needed for energy security, yet state governments have enacted moratoriums against it.

However, it's the simple truths that manage to cut through all the noise.

One simple truth is that renewable energy has led to lower wholesale electricity prices. This occurs due to a well-researched (but little reported) dynamic in energy markets known as the Merit Order Effect (see this video that explains it clearly). Perhaps the reason it hasn't caught on is because there's little or no evidence that lower wholesale prices have been passed on to consumers in the form of lower energy bills. Certainly, there has been little reporting of the effect.

We have on the other hand seen many (misleading) appeals to a supposed public good, blaming solar homeowners for everyone else's rising electricity prices.

All this hasn't stemmed the flood of homes embracing solar. There's well over a million households in Australia now generating their own solar electricity.

Now, as gas bills begin a sharp climb that could emulate the previous rise in electricity bills, those solar panels on your neighbours' house will look even more enticing.

Moving slowly on Very Fast Trains

By Jon Fairall. The Saturday Paper, Jun 7, 2014.

The case for fast trains has never been stronger, and inaction just drives the cost higher.

The engineering think tank Beyond Zero Emissions recently released a report on the construction of a high-speed railway. The project’s leader, Gerard Drew, told a meeting in Sydney that on his scheme the Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne corridor would be linked by 2030 with trains running at 350km/h and possibly faster.

The study proved such a project could be justified. More importantly, perhaps, it demonstrated it could be financially viable. “High speed rail would halve air travel,” says the group’s chief executive officer, Stephen Bygrave. “It’s faster, more convenient and it will make a profit.” 

On the basis of overseas experience, the study team estimated that, if the line was built by 2030, 65 per cent of people travelling Brisbane–Sydney or Sydney–Melbourne would use the train. Given current projections of the growth of traffic along the corridor, that implies about 68 million passengers a year. 

Beyond Zero Emissions finds high-speed rail service sensible and feasible

Daryl Passmore, The Sunday Mail (Qld), May 11, 2014

A high-speed train, such as this service in China, could put Brisbane within three hours of Sydney within a decade. Source: AFP

IMAGINE boarding a train at Brisbane’s Roma Street at 9am and getting off at Sydney’s Central Station at noon.

Imagine living near the beach on the Gold Coast and commuting to work in Brisbane’s CBD within 20 minutes.

Both could be a reality in little more than a decade, according to a new report which says high speed rail is not only achievable and affordable, but essential to Australia’s future.

Detailed research by Melbourne University’s Energy Institute, think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions and the German Aerospace Center, concludes that a 1799km network linking Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Sydney and Melbourne could be operating by 2025.

“This is a faster, better, cleaner cheaper and more convenient form of travel. It is vital to Australia’s future,” Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave said.

Just 20 minutes from the Gold Coast to Brisbane?

By Damien Larkins and Bern Young, ABC Gold Coast.

Travelling from the Gold Coast to Brisbane in just 20 minutes could be a reality by the year 2025, researchers say.

A report from University of Melbourne's Energy Institute Energy Institute says an $84 billion high speed rail (HSR) network along Australia's east coast is the answer.

Australian think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, a part of the energy institute, says HSR is a clean, more efficient and faster way to travel.

Beyond Zero Emissions chief executive Dr Stephen Bygrave says existing networks in countries like Germany, Japan and China are already leading the way.

"It's an idea in Australia, but when you go overseas you see that this is actually a very real technology, a very real prospect," he said.

"The potential in Australia is huge, we're just not making the most of our potential."

Listen to the full interview of Dr Stephen Bygrave on ABC Gold Coast Breakfast with Bern Young. 

Australia's high speed transport solution

By Simon Butler. Green Left Weekly, May 3.

Call it reckless, short-sighted or just “plane stupid”, but the federal government’s decision to press ahead with a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek defies logic.

Along with the noise pollution it will inflict on western Sydney, the airport will spawn a huge amount of extra carbon pollution — something we cannot afford in an age of dangerous climate change.

Sydney does not need another airport because there is another, better way. A high-speed train line linking Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane could reduce air traffic drastically. It could take passengers from Sydney to Canberra, Brisbane or Melbourne in timeframes that are comparable to flying, but with cheaper fares and big cuts in carbon emissions. A new report released by the climate solutions think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows how it could be done.

BZE: How we found high speed rail to be commercially viable

By Gerard Drew. The Urbanist (Crikey), April 24, 2014

Guest writer Gerard Drew from Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) explains the reasoning behind the organisation’s contention that east coast High Speed Rail line would cover its operating and capital costs

Guest writer Gerard Drew is Research Director with Beyond Zero Emissions (1):

After 30 years of discussion on high speed rail in Australia, and not a kilometre of track built for it, a cynic might assume that it’s never going to happen. But that would ignore what progress is being made overseas and recent analysis that changes the outlook for high speed rail in Australia.

The Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail report was published last week. It is a collaboration between think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute, and the German Aerospace Research Center.

The most important finding in the report relates to fare pricing assumptions associated with the estimation of high speed rail (HSR) commercial revenue. The point of difference is the air fare benchmark used as the competitive price level for HSR. This is a key point I believe was overlooked and misunderstood in the article on The Urbanist on April 15, High Speed Rail: too good to be true?

In the Phase 2 report produced by AECOM et. al. for the previous Federal government (completed in 2013), these air fare assumptions are not explicitly declared in the whole of the 534 page report, nor its 2,500+ pages of appendices, so some confusion is understandable.

Study: High-speed rail system in 'demand'

3AW News Talk

A new study has found the proposed high-speed rail system between Melbourne and Brisbane is more commercially viable than the government has revealed.

A two-year analysis by Beyond Zero Emissions found that a 1,799km rail system between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane could be built within 11 years at a cost of $84bn, $30bn less than previous government estimates.

Research director Gerard Drew told Tom Elliott the rail was now a real possibility.

“It gets more real the longer that we neglect the infrastructure that we need in this country,” he said.

“The high-speed rail is one important component, as we’ve witnessed, the growing congestion in our airports as well as our cities … is the effect of just concentrating on the development of population growth in just a few pockets of our country.”

LISTEN IN FULL: Gerard Drew says the system needs vision

Mr Drew said there was too much confusion between population density and actual travel.

He said their comprehensive research revealed an “enormous demand” for the high-speed rail system.

“It comes down to a bit of vision really,” he said.

“This is something that would be completely transformational for Australia.”

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