High Speed Rail

Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail report

The HSR Project is a collaboration between Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), and the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute.

Download the full report here (PDF, 13.8MB). The key findings are summarised below.


Zero Carbon Australia High Speed Rail: Key findings

45% of Australian regional travel is contained within the proposed High Speed Rail network corridor
Domestic regional travel in Australia is highly concentrated in the corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane. In 2010 Australian passengers travelled 145 billion kilometres across the country, 65 billion were within the corridor approximately 100km either side of the proposed High Speed Rail line.

21 High Speed Rail stations connecting 11 regional centres and seven major cities
Regional stations are proposed for: Seymour, Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn, Moss Vale, Taree, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Grafton and Lismore. With the proposed High Speed Rail network, these regional centres would be no more than one and a half hours from one of seven major cities on the network: Brisbane, Gold Coast, Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Ten minute train frequencies required during peak hours at Sydney station
From Sydney, the busiest station, high speed trains in both north and south directions would be departing platforms every ten minutes in peak hour. Meeting the passenger demand estimated for the proposed HSR network would require a fleet of 87 trains. The average train occupancy is estimated to be 85%.

Journey times less than three hours from the centre of Sydney CBD, to the CBD of Melbourne or Brisbane
Both express and stopping trains are proposed for the High Speed Rail network. Express trains will take less than three hours to travel from Sydney to both Melbourne and Brisbane. To travel the full length of the corridor, from Melbourne to Brisbane, will take around 5 hours and 56 minutes.

60% of Australian population within 50km of a High Speed Rail station on proposed network
The proposed High Speed Rail network features a station less than one hour from 12.5 million Australian residents.

Three million fewer domestic passengers at Sydney Airport in 2030 than current levels
With the proposed High Speed Rail network operational in 2030, the reduced air travel demand would require 82 fewer daily aircraft movements than the current average of 850. The need for another airport to service Sydney will be greatly influenced by the proposed High Speed Rail network.

HSR becomes the dominant mode of transport for journeys between 350 and 1,300 kilometres in length
Once high-speed rail is operational it is estimated that it will account for 30% of passenger kilometres travelled. Most of this travel is estimated to be transferred from current air services, and longer car journeys. Journeys shorter than 350 km remain dominated by car travel, whilst those longer than 1,300 km remain mostly on air travel.

Over three times more passengers are expected to travel by HSR than air within the east coast corridor in 2030
68 million passengers are expected to travel by HSR in the year 2030, compared to 20 million by air (down from 55 million in 2010).

100% renewable energy powered HSR allows zero emissions journeys
The proposed HSR network can be powered by 100% renewable energy. This will allow passengers 
the choice of travelling with zero emissions for journeys that are appropriate to substitute with HSR. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from regional travel would be reduced by 150 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over 40 years of operation compared with business-as-usual. Emissions created from the HSR construction would be offset after 5 years.

$84 billion total estimated construction cost including rolling stock, project management and contingency
Melbourne-Sydney is estimated to cost $40 billion, and Sydney-Brisbane $44 billion. Of this, $18 billion of the total estimated construction cost is required for entering the cities of Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane.

$7 billion estimated fare revenue when fully operational in 2030
The passenger demand estimated would generate $7 billion of gross operating revenue in the year 2030, with HSR fares priced cheaper than the equivalent average air fares. Operating costs are estimated to total $2.3 billion for the same year. The net operating profit is $4.6 billion.

40 year capital repayment from operating profits
The significant operating profits would allow repayment of the capital costs after 40 years of operation. This takes into account expected growth in passenger demand, with a 4% real discount rate on future cash flows.

1799km of High Speed Railway requiring 81km of tunnels (4.5%)and 98km of elevated sections (5.5%)
90% of the proposed HSR network is on track at ground level, in cuttings or on embankments. The alignment has been careful designed to balance the need for expensive infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges, with the need to limit impacts on people and the natural environment.

Internationally, comparable HSR projects have been delivered in less than 10 years.
HSR projects of similar or greater complexity have been competed in other countries in less than 10 years from commencing construction to beginning services. If Australia proceeds with HSR and achieves a similar pace of project delivery, the proposed network could be operational by 2025.