Infrastructure Thread


Infrastructure Thread

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paladisious
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Planes trains and automobiles, and more.

This should get us started:


melbourne_terrace
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I hate flying and driving with a passion, this would be a dream. Unfortunately, we'll get another half dozen feasibility studies and costings in the next decade to tell us what we already know first. The land corridor should have been bought years ago.

Viennese Vuck

chillbilly
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I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.
paladisious
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chillbilly wrote:
I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.


And yet this year Japan will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Bullet Train network, and China has covered their whole country with HSR in the last five years.

I'm sure they got through an escarpment or two.
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I love that this thread was created. I love the OP even more. Make it happen ffs.


Heineken
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paladisious wrote:
chillbilly wrote:
I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.


And yet this year Japan will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Bullet Train network, and China has covered their whole country with HSR in the last five years.

I'm sure they got through an escarpment or two.

Sydney Trains has enough trouble as it is. The fact we have a suburban line through escarpments is probably about our peak right now.

WOLLONGONG WOLVES FOR A-LEAGUE EXPANSION!

paladisious
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TheSelectFew wrote:
I love that this thread was created. I love the OP even more. Make it happen ffs.


paladisious
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The Age wrote:
Billions spent on roads in “hideously inefficient” way
July 22, 2014 Josh Gordon



More than $20 billion a year of national road funding is being spent in a “hideously inefficient” manner, according to a leaked assessment by Australia’s independent infrastructure umpire.

The Infrastructure Australia report, obtained by Fairfax Media, has also delivered a scathing critique of “monopoly” state-run road entities such as VicRoads, claiming a culture of resisting reform has led to a situation in which political leaders are held “captive” to demands for more funding.

“The unhealthy focus of road agencies appears set on ‘getting, controlling and spending’ more taxpayer money, rather than questioning efficiency or value to the motorist and governments,” the report says.

The report, "Spend more, waste more, Australia's roads in 2014: moving beyond gambling," was sent to industry experts on Tuesday for comment. But, just hours after it was circulated, Infrastructure Australia’s acting coordinator John Fitzgerald ordered its withdrawal.

Mr Fitzgerald said the report had been emailed “in error” by a consultant. He said it had been withdrawn because he had not read it, nor had it been properly considered by the Infrastructure Australia council or the federal government.

“While I’m still here, I value good processes to ensure that publications from Infrastructure Australia are of the highest quality,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

The report, which claimed Australia has a “gambler’s addiction to roads”, said national road spending is now outstripping revenue raised through road-related taxes and charges, warning “Australia’s thirst for roads” would come at the expense of other services as the gap continues to widen. In the four years to June 30, 2012, road spending outstripped road revenue by $4.5 billion.

“Given that current governments at all levels display an appetite for much greater road spending in future, this trend should give rise to urgent questions of efficiency about how road funds are raised and allocated,” the report said.

It suggested there was little consideration of whether Australia’s demands for new roads should be satisfied, and argued that rail funding had missed out as a result.

“The current Australian system assumes that roads are an answer to most transport problems and seeks more and more funding to that end, with little consideration of alternatives that most other developed parts of the world enjoy, such as significant heavy intercontinental rail networks and dominant heavy mass transit systems."

It suggested a better approach would be to increase private-sector investment in roads.

“These efforts should bypass road agencies, which in most observed cases, will only suffocate or over-complicate such opportunities if given carriage of them.”

The report said since Infrastructure Australia was set up in 2008 to provide independent advice on infrastructure projects, it has received more than 1000 proposals, mostly for road projects.

“They were almost universally poor, in that they lacked any cost-benefit rigour whatsoever,” it said. “The real problem is that road agencies and other road project proponents in industry and the community spend next to no effort examining what problems their projects and plans are trying to solve, other than the perceived problem that they do not have enough road funding.”

The report raises interesting questions for the federal government, which has a road-focused approach to infrastructure funding. During the 2013 election campaign, Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared that the Commonwealth should “stick to its knitting” and focus on funding roads rather than urban rail.

The Napthine government too has been criticised for failing to submit a robust benefit-cost analysis for its East-West Link to Infrastructure Australia. But, with about $27 billion of transport projects announced in the May budget, it has also been keen to involve the private sector.

The report was also critical of the federal government’s efforts to predict increases in road traffic, claiming urban congestion had consistently been overstated as a result.

In Melbourne, the government had predicted a 27 per cent jump in road vehicle kilometres travelled in the decade to 2011-12. In reality, vehicle use had increased by just 15 per cent, it said.

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paladisious wrote:
chillbilly wrote:
I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.


And yet this year Japan will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Bullet Train network, and China has covered their whole country with HSR in the last five years.

I'm sure they got through an escarpment or two.

Have you seen the escarpment at Wollongong. To get through it you would have to build a 15km long tunnel from around Waterfall or Helensburgh from the North and then another 20+km long tunnel south of Wollongong at Dapto. Both tunnels would be further complicated from the extensive coal and gas mining that has gone on in the area. Fairly sure that I've seen it estimated that just that section would cost more than double building the rest of the network from Brisbane to Melbourne.

I support the project. Taking 10-15 minutes to get to Sydney rather than the hour + it does now would be great. Just pointing out the main point holding it back in the region that I live in.
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Townsville has a sick bus service.

-PB

https://i.imgur.com/batge7K.jpg

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We need better infrastructure down in the wyndham region , but seriously we need a hfr pronto . I'm over the feasibility studies to find out we need it. Countless governments waste a lot of money for this studies every couple of years and then let it sit . Then a couple of years later another study
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We need to get the Germans down here to make a good train system
Perfect timing without fail and so smooth was like driving on a cloud
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high speed rail is a complete waste of money for a country like Australia
even in the US its a waste of money

its a waste of money in most places bar a few exceptions and the reality is the high speeds advertised are rarely reached.

thankfully no government in this country has fallen for this would be scam.

planes are far more efficient which is why they're so well patronized. typical fools falling for the HSR propaganda which is merely a con to get taxpayer funds into private enterprise.

the maintenance costs of HSR are astronomical

cue abuse from the usual suspects...

Edited by ricecrackers: 27/7/2014 02:57:29 PM
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paulbagzFC wrote:
Townsville has a sick bus service.

-PB

I think I paid about $3.50 for an all day ticket on Magnetic Island. Could hop on, hop off, all over the island. Admittedly It's the only bus service I caught up there, but that's fucking sick!!



WOLLONGONG WOLVES FOR A-LEAGUE EXPANSION!

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chillbilly wrote:
paladisious wrote:
chillbilly wrote:
I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.


And yet this year Japan will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of their Bullet Train network, and China has covered their whole country with HSR in the last five years.

I'm sure they got through an escarpment or two.

Have you seen the escarpment at Wollongong. To get through it you would have to build a 15km long tunnel from around Waterfall or Helensburgh from the North and then another 20+km long tunnel south of Wollongong at Dapto. Both tunnels would be further complicated from the extensive coal and gas mining that has gone on in the area. Fairly sure that I've seen it estimated that just that section would cost more than double building the rest of the network from Brisbane to Melbourne.

I support the project. Taking 10-15 minutes to get to Sydney rather than the hour + it does now would be great. Just pointing out the main point holding it back in the region that I live in.

Can't say I've been there. From most of my reading it seems that if Wollongong has to miss out on being on the main line to make it viable, so be it, there can just be a separate HSR line from Sydney to there.
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I remember when they were considering making Newcastle Airport international HSR was proposed between there and Sydney, would have been awesome

Love using the HSR in Europe, specifically remember Paris to Strasbourg was pretty cruisey at around 250-300km/h
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South Road, Adelaide. Nuff said
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:lol: at all this pipe dreams of HSR through NSW. :lol:

FFS, they've been deliberating on a second major airport for the city for the last 30 fucking years. Only in the last 6 months have they finally agreed it needs to be built.

My Grandchildren will have grandchildren before they decide it's necessary.

By then Asia will have teleportation.

WOLLONGONG WOLVES FOR A-LEAGUE EXPANSION!

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Heineken wrote:


By then Asia will have teleportation.


So true... "Beamu me apu Sukoti!"
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chillbilly wrote:
I remember being dragged along to meetings a high speed rail proposal just under 20 years ago when I had just started school.

From memory one of the bigger hurdling blocks for I high speed rail is that the preferred line by most proposals would be for the section from Sydney to Canberra via Wollongong. The escarpment makes it nearly impossible to get trains down and then back up.

I can't see a HSR stopping at Wollongong unfortunately. At best it would have a stop in Picton/Wilton and you'd have to make your own way down the escarpment (maybe by a new rail line?).
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On a slightly different note, what are some NSW peeps opinions on Opal cards?
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A16Man wrote:
On a slightly different note, what are some NSW peeps opinions on Opal cards?

I miss those yellow scanning pads that were installed onto stations but never used.

I don't have an Opal card. I don't use trains often enough any more for it be of any benefit. The stations I use most often don't have gates so I'd probably cost myself money frequently by forgetting to swipe it before leaving. How do the transit police check them?
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chillbilly wrote:
A16Man wrote:
On a slightly different note, what are some NSW peeps opinions on Opal cards?

I miss those yellow scanning pads that were installed onto stations but never used.

I don't have an Opal card. I don't use trains often enough any more for it be of any benefit. The stations I use most often don't have gates so I'd probably cost myself money frequently by forgetting to swipe it before leaving. How do the transit police check them?

Apparently they're getting rid of tickets in a few months so Opal cards would be mandatory (if you want to pay). No idea how they're checked.
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A16Man wrote:
chillbilly wrote:
A16Man wrote:
On a slightly different note, what are some NSW peeps opinions on Opal cards?

I miss those yellow scanning pads that were installed onto stations but never used.

I don't have an Opal card. I don't use trains often enough any more for it be of any benefit. The stations I use most often don't have gates so I'd probably cost myself money frequently by forgetting to swipe it before leaving. How do the transit police check them?

Apparently they're getting rid of tickets in a few months so Opal cards would be mandatory (if you want to pay). No idea how they're checked.

I don't like that. I prefer travelling anonymously, and also getting free trips every now and again because the ticket machine is broken.
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Now that is some bold infrastructure!


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motherboard.vice.com wrote:
In Two Years, Denmark's Wind Power Will Be Half the Cost of Fossil Fuels

Written by
BRIAN MERCHANT
SENIOR EDITOR
July 30, 2014 // 02:40 PM EST

Wind power is officially the cheapest source of energy in Denmark, according to the nation's government—and by 2016, it claims the electricity whipped up by its newest turbines will be half the price of fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

Denmark's Energy Association (everything about Scandinavia is friendlier, even its DEA) announced the news last week, and it's an achievement worth highlighting. Wind and solar are achieving grid parity with fossil fuels—that is, it's just as cheap—in many places around the world. Even without the tax breaks, declining manufacturing costs and growing scale have rendered wind power just as cheap as natural gas in many states right here in the gas-rich US. And at least one analyst determined that this is the "beginning of the grid parity era" for solar, worldwide.

But Denmark is blowing past grid parity and towards a scenario in which clean energy is actually much, much cheaper: When its two massive offshore wind farms come online, they'll be the nation's most inexpensive energy source by a wide margin, analysts say.

"Electricity from two new onshore wind power facilities set to begin operating in 2016 will cost around 5 euro cents per kilowatt-hour," Yale 360 explains. "Wind power would remain the cheapest energy option even if interest rates on wind power projects were to increase by 10 percent, the report found."

That's good news for a nation that's hoping to get 50 percent of its power from wind turbines by 2050. Right now, the nation already boasts an impressive clean energy mix of 43 percent.

“Wind power today is cheaper than other forms of energy, not least because of a big commitment and professionalism in the field,” Rasmus Peterson, Denmark's energy minister, said at a press conference. “This is true for researchers, companies and politicians. We need a long-term and stable energy policy to ensure that renewable energy, both today and in the future, is the obvious choice.”

Importantly, the DEA's analysis "was not based on a full cost-benefit assessment of different technologies that included an assessment of environmental benefits, taxes or subsidies.” That is, the agency did not factor in the health and environmental costs of burning fossil fuels—which are considerable—and instead looked directly at the market forces in the country.

Natural gas and coal are much more expensive in Denmark than it is in the US, which helps make wind such an economic bargain, and the nation has explicitly pursued wind power for decades. But improving technology, falling costs, and the strong, consistently blowing offshore winds that will turn the new turbines are making the case airtight.

Yesterday brought the good news that Germany was meeting a full 28.5 percent of its energy needs with clean sources. Now Denmark is proving that running your nation on clean energy can be cheaper than we possibly could have imagined, even ten years ago.

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Gah, my rents are on a train between Bolgona and Florence atm;



-PB

https://i.imgur.com/batge7K.jpg

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I think if we want better infrastructure we should privatise it. Government jobs are inefficient and never run on time or on budget.

Put in a private backer who doesn't have time for the BS that contractors give to suck the budget dry and things will move like shit through a goose.
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pedestrian.tv wrote:
[size=6]YOU CAN NOW PAY YOUR FINE ON A MELBOURNE TRAM, BUT YOU STILL CAN'T BUY A TICKET ON IT[/size]

Planning on travelling on the public transport system anytime soon? You'd better brush up on the "wonderful" idiosyncrasies of the Myki ticketing system. And quick. From this week onwards, Public Transport Ticket Inspectors will be carrying EFTPOS machines with them, meaning that if you cop a fine you'll have the option of paying it on-the-spot for a reduced price.

The new system means that you'll have the option of either coughing up $75 on-the-spot to cover the fine, or else you'll face the regular price of $217 if you don't have the money/want to launch a challenge.

'Course this also means that the Melbourne public transport system now has the curious/outright fucking frustrating anomaly whereby if you're sitting on a seat on a tram you'll be able to pay your fine right then and there, despite the fact that you still can't actually buy a ticket for that same tram whilst on board.

And there are apparently no excuses, either. Which includes faulty Myki readers or an inability to check the balance of your card before boarding. Nope. Out the window. Forget about it.

In addition, the system has been slightly tweaked so that 2 hour Myki touch ons now last for 2 hours exactly post-touching on. Previously, the two hour period was rounded up to the end of the next hour, meaning you could theoretically have a 2 hour fare that lasted 2 hours and 59 minutes. Now when they say 2 hours they mean 2 hours, whereas previously they meant 2 hours-ish.

Yeah, look. I don't fully understand it either.


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The Age wrote:
[size=6]If you thought using a toll road was costly, try building one[/size]
Date August 10, 2014
Michael West


Melbourne’s CityLink had a capital cost of $100 million a kilometre Photo: Justin McManus

Melbourne’s giant East West Link road project is shaping up to cost $1 billion a kilometre and Sydney’s WestConnex $473 million a kilometre.

Brisbane’s Airport Link cost $747 million a kilometre and Sydney’s Cross City Tunnel was constructed at a capital cost per kilometre at $476 million.

These and other road project figures have been prepared for Fairfax Media by actuary Ian Bell. An excellent interactive graphic below shows the capital costs of Australia’s major road projects.

Direct comparisons are fraught as some projects are still in the planning stage, others were completed some time ago and the more costly projects have high tunnelling costs. Melbourne’s CityLink for instance had a capital cost of $100 million a kilometre (10 per cent of East West estimates) and Sydney’s Westlink M7 had a capital cost of $58 million.

Nevertheless the estimates are instructive in that they tell taxpayers and motorists what they are up for – something their elected leaders are not telling them.

The governments of Victoria and NSW have left the planning and prospective funding of their biggest projects, East West Link and WestConnex, shrouded in secrecy.

The lack of co-ordinated, long-term planning of major transport projects across the nation is even more concerning. There has been little effort even to properly evaluate whether rail networks – arguably more effective than roads and a fraction of the cost – would be a superior option to big-ticket spending on roads.

The key thing to observe from Bell’s analysis is the significant jump in capital cost for roads once tunnelling is involved. The Hunter Expressway to Newcastle for instance, a superb piece of new dual carriageway, shows a cost per kilometre of just $42.5 million. At the other extreme is Brisbane’s CLEM7 motorway under the Brisbane River; it was 10 times more costly per kilometre.

If the upper band of estimated costs for Melbourne’s East West Link applies, the cost per kilometre more than doubles again.

Due to the various time frames and project types the values are not directly comparable, nor could they be in strictly comparable in 2014 dollar value terms, without inflating the costs of some and deflating the costs of others.

So, if that is the case with most of the large new projects, why would governments expect past methods of public-private partnership financing and toll-setting to work? No other utility in Australia expects a utility provider to lock in for fixed pricing formulae over periods of 30 years or more. It is no wonder some large superannuation fund investors are now baulking at such massive greenfields projects.

Looking at one example, Bell did some simple illustrative numbers on Sydney’s Westlink M7 versus the proposal for WestConnex. Taking the M7’s original cost, including finance during construction, up to its start in 2006, he inflated that broadly to 2014 terms. Then he took Macquarie Bank’s leaked numbers for WestConnex (the state has not released anything), and deflated roughly back to 2014 terms. He did this while simultaneously adjusting for lane numbers and known lane lengths. Effectively this compared the two in simple terms on the basis of costs per lane kilometre.

The ratio he then found was that WestConnex was about 2½ to three times more costly than the M7. This implies, importantly (and all other things being equal), that toll rates should be 2½ to three times as high, unless there are going to be heavy subsidies into WestConnex by the government.

It needs to be asked how this could all work in practice, but as State Parliament has put restrictions on the information flow for WestConnex’s business case, the public cannot even judge what will happen to their taxpaying dollars, or to their motoring budgets.

Without proper release of data from Roads and Maritime Services, Transport for NSW and Treasury, it is impossible to be sure just how many hundreds of millions of dollars of funding or revenue shortfall might arise for this, the largest infrastructure project in the state’s pipeline. Will it be a repeat of the Queensland experience of the failed BrisConnections project – soon to be before the courts?

This project, after all, is more than twice the size (and the risk will lie with the governments, not with stock exchange investors).

The accompanying graphic which shows comparative costs of road projects bears some explanation.



Some projects such as Westlink M7 (opened January 2006) were completed years ago. Others (such as parts of the Pacific Highway upgrade and the Hunter Expressway) are recently completed.

Others such as Sydney West Airport road upgrades and Stage 1A of West Connex (due 2017) are to be finished in a few years and a few will not be complete for some years (West Connex Stage 3 in 2023, East West Link, timing not available).

Due to the various timeframes and project types, the values are not directly comparable, nor could they be strictly comparable in 2014 dollar value terms without inflating the costs of some and deflating the costs of others.

The figures should therefore not be used to over-state the multiple for the cost of the new tunneled projects versus the costs for roads built on the surface on relatively flat land, in Western Sydney for instance, even though that multiple is high.

Another factor is that the newer projects listed, starting with Brisbane’s Airport Link Motorway, have additional lanes and in the case of Sydney’s West Connex, the lane design, and interchanges and so forth, are still apparently being designed, so the figures involve some guesswork. Same deal for those of the East West Link inMelbourne, whose base case model remains a secret.

However, even with a simple (road engineers might call it crude) method of relating the costs back to those for 2x2 lane dual carriageways, the message is still clear – where tunneling is involved the cost factors are blown out by many times those above ground.

To take one example, actuary Ian Bell did some simple illustrative numbers on Sydney’s Westlink M7 vis-a-vis the proposal for West Connex. Taking the M7’s original cost, including finance during construction, up to its start in 2006, Bell inflated the cost broadly to 2014 terms.

He then took Macquarie Bank’s leaked numbers for West Connex, deflated roughly back to 2014 terms while at the same time adjusting for lane numbers and known lane lengths. That effectively compared the two in simple terms on the basis of costs per lane per kilometre.

That is how Bell came up with the ratio that West Connex was around 2.5 times to 3 times more costly than the M7.

It is also worth noting that even this multiple of 2.5 to 3 times understates the sheer cost of tunneling. On Ian Bell’s reckonings the 33kms at seven lanes wide on average (giving 231 total lane kilometres) hides the fact that only 134 kilometres are new lane distances. The Government is contributing free to the project some 97kms of lane length from a combination of the existing M4 between Parramatta and Concord and the existing M5 East from King Georges Road to Mascot. Locking up an existing asset such as this with zero return on capital is quite the reverse philosophy of the thrust from new premier Mike Baird on privatization and capital recycling.

Perhaps this was why Mike Baird’s predecessor Barry O’Farrell was happy to retire on a bottle of Penfolds Grange, because the former premier of NSW had committed theWest Connex to have the same toll cap as the M7.

It bears inquiring how that could possibly be the case if it would cost so much more. Further, Bell deduced the theoretical toll caps for the West Connex at roughly double or more the M7 figure (plus or minus a bit to cover for the lack of data from NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). The M7 is now tolled at $7.56 for any trip over 20 kilometres. For residents of far Western Sydney that doubles.

Further, the NSW government has just agreed to allow roads operator Transurban to lift the tolls for heavy vehicles on the upcoming North Connex and its connecting motorways to a multiple of three times that of cars. If it uses such a multiple for West Connex, then the trip tolls for trucks from Parramatta to the Airport or the port will be in the range of $40 or $50.

This is higher than Australia has ever experienced before and even higher than the experience of Canada for its Toronto 407 ETR – which reaches a high of about 90c per kilometre for the heaviest vehicles in the peak periods.

How this might all work in practice is still up in the air. As parliament has put restrictions on the information flow for West Connex’s business case, the public cannot tell what might happen to their taxpaying dollars, or their motoring budgets.

In the big picture it is worth contemplating why the expansion of rail networks has taken a back seat in transport planning.

In theory, some transport analysts say heavy rail is four times as cost effective as roads when it comes to capital spending.

Last Saturday we explored in broad terms the reasons for the failure of transport policy in properly considering rail, or at least in squaring it with road spending in the long-term policy outlook.

In simple terms there appears to be a culture of priority for road options fostered by the political classes which may stem from the advice presented to government. In short, the fees to be gained by bankers and other advisers are bigger in road than in rail.

Whatever the case, there is an unacceptable secrecy in government planning - which takes the public out of the debate – and is surely to the detriment of the country when it comes to long term public policy planning.

This is evident too in the failure of successive governments to preserve urban corridors, something which had led to the present, egregious billion dollar blow-outs in project costs.


Edited by paladisious: 13/8/2014 01:28:15 AM
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