Fly by rail, says Zero Emissions group


A high-speed rail network powered by 100% renewables would eliminate greenhouse gas emissions produced by long-distance air travel in eastern Australia. Based on a rapid implementation of the French TGV system, Matthew Wright from Beyond Zero Emissions, wants Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane to be linked in this visionary project.

Aviation travel currently contributes 3% of world greenhouse gas emissions, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting this proportion to rise to 15% by 2050. The government must stop unnecessary aviation travel as part of a strategy to reverse the dramatic effects of climate change.

The tourism industry is clamouring to push band-aid remedies for climate change such as carbon offset plans. We are calling on the government to create positive, realistic solutions to global warming. At speeds of up to 360 kilometres per hour, a super-fast train would complete the Melbourne to Sydney route in under three hours. This is comparable with air travel when you include check-in times, security checks and delays in luggage handling.

At $13 million per kilometre, the entire network would cost $32 billion, employing tens of thousands in construction and maintenance. The trains are powered through electrified rails, offering zero emissions transport when combined with 100% renewable energy built into the existing electricity grid.

Compare this with the Coalition's $22 billion Auslink II program announced by Treasurer Peter Costello. A vast majority of this money is to be directed into road upgrades, which will produce even more greenhouse gas emissions.

High-speed rail is the preferred method of travel in Western Europe due to its superior comfort, increased baggage allowance, and ease of access. Over more than 25 years the French TGV system has carried more then 2 billion passengers without a single major incident.

The high speed rail network would significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. APPEA, the peak body representing Australia's oil industry, expects oil imports to rise to $20 billion by 2015. Transport contributes 23% of Australia's total carbon emissions. A high-speed rail network used for rapid passenger and freight travel across the eastern
sea board will help drive Australia towards a zero emissions future.

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