The recent report on the Herald-Sun front page last week about the pressing need for a fast connection from the city to Tullamarine Airport appeared almost hysterical in its urgency. It strove for public backing and pleaded Government action. It is stunning evidence of the growing effects of road congestion from population increase in Melbourne already. It is doubly extraordinary as the airlines persuaded the Federal Labor Government High Speed Rail Report in 2013 that HSR should not connect with any east coast airports.
There have been several means of connecting with Tullamarine other than by road proposed, all at government expense.
The underlying imperatives of population in Australia must be considered. The population is projected to double in the next 4-5 decades. The question is: where will the extra +24m live? Melbourne and Sydney are projected to increase to +8m. They would lose their liveability with the growth of congestion and urban densification, if they grow to this size without regional HSR.
The private VFT2 concept envisages 10m of the 24m living in the regions between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane connected by HSR and adjacent Fast Freight Rail (FFR). They would live in many new cities of up to 1m people around HSR stations. A new city of 1m in Gippsland is foreseen. Eventually, there would be another to the west of Geelong near the sea on the route to Adelaide. Gippsland would have the advantage of being first. In the meantime, Gippsland must be persuasive that HSR should be built and that the route should be to the east of Melbourne. It is in competition with the 2013 northern route and with the attraction for people to settle in the outer fringe suburbs of Melbourne.
HSR/FFR has to be a private enterprise project, privately financed, as government will not build it.
Various means of transport have been suggested: rail (ground level), rail (viaduct), mono-rail (viaduct) and high tech (viaduct).
The problem with ground level rail is that it is difficult to find a suitable route. It destroys nearby property value, cuts off road traffic and causes congestion at level crossing. Rail on viaduct destroys more value being higher and noisier. Mono-rail is similar to rail on viaduct. New technology is promising, but untried and too far off – after population has increased substantially. All would be government projects paid for by government.
The problem has urgency as congestion clamps down on access to the city and airport via one of Melbourne’s oldest and best free-ways, even though it is being widened.
An option usually overlooked because it is not on the Federal Government’s and Victorian
Government’s list of projects is High Speed Rail (HSR). This is also urgent in order to forestall and moderate the growth of Melbourne’s population and decline in liveability.
HSR is best as a private enterprise project because it is so large and needs to be oriented to customer value rather than built down to a price. The VFT2 concept would connect Geelong and a new city of up to 1m people beyond Geelong by HSR on the way to Adelaide later. It would be an extension of the Melbourne, Sydney Brisbane route via Gippsland.
HSR would cut trenches next to suburban rail from Southern Cross Station 30km towards Geelong for express HSR and build housing above them. A loop to Tullamarine Airport in a trench would be cut and another loop at ground level to Avalon Airport for stopping train stations.
The advantage of trenches is that they create value nearby instead of destroying it. They hide the sight and sound of trains. More particularly, housing would be built above the trenches. When sold the dwellings would pay for the cost of the trench and the whole railway. HSR would be paid for when housing was finished well before the project is completed. HSR would cost little or no government funds when privately financed.
The VFT2 concept envisages all the east coast airports being connected by HSR. The main purpose of HSR is to distribute some 10m of the +24m population increase to the regions. People living in new cities along the HSR route would be connected to the major airports, as well as the major cities.
A new smart city of up to 1m is envisaged for Gippsland and another beyond Geelong. This would relieve Melbourne of +2m residents and much congestion. It would help to preserve Melbourne’s liveability and connect to Tullamarine and other east coast airports.
HSR is the best solution to population increase and to congestion and loss of liveability. It would relieve Melbourne’s growth of +2m people. The Victorian Government should back the VFT2 concept for HSR because it would protect liveability of Melbourne and give access to Tullamarine Airport by rail. There would be little or no cost to Government.