Spurgeon Monkfish III in response to the following proposition: “Therefore, it could surely be argued, a VFT service between Sydney and Melbourne would be financially viable.”

The post below was originally going to be a relatively brief response to a comment from Archivist on the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge Thread, but quickly grew in size as I tried to do justice to all the idiocy and fantastical thinking involved in building “a business case” for a VFT between Sydney and Melbourne. Some of the evidence below about travel logistics cites my personal experiences as an occasional air traveller on that route. Most cost figures cited are in 2020 dollars.

How quickly could a VFT cover the distance between Sydney to Melbourne? It’s around 880 kms, or more depending on detours that might enable it to stop in Canberra and various “major regional centres”.

I travel that route by air about four times a year for work. From door to door (i.e. leaving my house to arriving at whatever stupid bloody meeting I need to attend in Melbourne) it generally takes about three to three and half hours. The trip involves two taxi rides and can be subject to random infuriating delays, such as waiting for over 30 minutes to get a cab at Tullamarine, or the flight (Qantas) being delayed for various inexcusable reasons. The trip back to Sydney (and then home) almost always takes longer than the trip to the Melbourne meeting venue.

Then there’s cost of travel factors to consider. A return cattle class Qantas flight costs an average of around $1,200 (red eye and standard fare) and four cab fares around $240 (total cost $1,440). Therefore, any VFT would need to be capable of achieving similar or better travel times and costs.

The VFT would ideally need to traverse the distance between the cities in three hours or less (three hours would require an average speed of around 293 kms/hr) and cost significantly less for a return ticket (e.g. $800 return) before I would even remotely contemplate using it. That’s six hours travel on the VFT in one day, for starters, as opposed to around four hours on a plane. If the train departed from Central in Sydney, there would be additional travel time to and from there of about an hour for me. The next factor would be where does the train stop in Melbourne? If it stops at the CBD, I may still need to get a cab or tram etc, to the meeting venue, necessitating extra cost and time expended.

It’s entirely unsurprising to note that various media pieces and government press releases pushing the VFT concept invariably quote travel times of between two to three hours, which quite frankly, are ridiculous, given the distance involved and the fact that cutting edge technology is never employed in public infrastructure projects in this country (Hello, National Brontosaurus Network Network!). Readers are also encouraged not to believe the exhortations of the likes of Clive Palmer on this subject, either. “Safe Travelling Speeds” as demanded by greenfilth and decreed by bureaucratic numbskulls, would be another inevitable impediment to any VFT’s efficient operation.

Then you’d need to factor how many travellers on that route would forego flying and use the VFT instead, if it was ever constructed and met the minimum time and cost parameters identified above. According to the relevant federal government department, in November 2019, the Melbourne – Sydney route was travelled by 800,000 passengers. Multiply that by 12 and there are around 9.6 million passengers using that route per year. If 25% of them (an optimistic number, I’d argue) used the VFT at $400 per fare, the annual revenue for the VFT would be $960 million. Would this represent a sufficient revenue stream to justify the construction and ongoing operation costs of the VFT? There may also be a one off initial revenue “sugar hit” as an indeterminate number of people decide to take the VFT journey for the novelty value, before subsequently vowing never to do so again.

Most importantly, what would be the carrying capacity of each train and how many trains would complete the route each day? Would the line need to be duplicated? Presumably yes. The trains and track would presumably need to be manufactured locally for a “Jerbs for Ozzies” angle or would some or (possibly) all of the manufacturing be done in the glorious Peoples’ Republic of China?

Sadly, there’s not much point in speculating, because a VFT for that route will never be built in any of our lifetimes. The following, for example, would present almost insurmountable impediments:

  • Feasibility and environmental impact studies, construction licenses, property resumptions, approvals etc – allow ten to 15 years at least (hell, we’ve already allowed a factor of many times that over the last 50 years or so)
  • Previously unknown habitats of endangered blind earthworms/speckled eucalypt skinks/walnut crested drongos and “inadvertently discovered” indigenous sacred sites along the route – allow another ten to 15 years
  • unionist blockheads taking two weeks to lay one kilometre of track (allow around 34 years – and OK, I might be being a tad cynical here)

The eventual cost of building the bloody thing would run into the trillions of dollars over the many decades it would no doubt take to finish. If it was a “Public Private Partnership” taxpayers would be right royally screwed into the bargain – as they have been on every major public infrastructure project in this stupid, stupid country in the last thirty years (thanks, corrupt pollies, unions and crony capitalists!).

While Maglev technology may excite various types, the concept of constructing a Maglev line 880kms long is science fantasy and any eventual cost beyond sensible consideration. Finally, monitoring the integrity and security of a line that long, not to mention maintaining it, would constitute a logistical nightmare.

The costs would be exorbitant, the benefits for the economy, taxpayers and travellers non-existent and the benefits for the environment marginal at best (although unlikely as we’ve speculated, to ever be an issue).

So, VFT proponents – there’s a free “business case” for you.

Now sod off, swampies. Move onto your next idiotic scheme, like building a toy train network in Sydney.

Oh, hang on …

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68 Responses to Spurgeon Monkfish III in response to the following proposition: “Therefore, it could surely be argued, a VFT service between Sydney and Melbourne would be financially viable.”

  1. stackja

    A normal train recently went off the rails. A VFT stay on rails?

  2. Bill The Bunyip

    You missed the biggest problem of all. The bloody thing would run on electricity and thus would be vulnerable to stopping when the wind dropped and the clouds came over.

  3. Roger

    The costs would be exorbitant, the benefits for the economy, taxpayers and travellers non-existent and the benefits for the environment marginal at best (although unlikely as we’ve speculated, to ever be an issue).

    Ah…but just consider the savings in carbon emissions.

  4. rickw

    Can’t safely operate a slightly fast train, two dead, 13 injured at last count.

  5. Mother Lode

    Aren’t we supposed to be movie to Adern’s ‘well-being’ economy?

    You haven’t factored in how good it is going to make people feel.

  6. areff

    $1400 bucks for a Melb-Sydney return! I suspect the boss is paying for your ticket.

  7. Bruce of Newcastle

    Leftist activists are currently sabotaging railways in Canada because of their climate religion.

    Radical blogs are instructing activists on how to sabotage Canada’s train tracks (18 Feb)

    What happens when a bullet train hits sabotaged tracks?

    And ji hadis advocate attacks on railways.

    I believe a number of plots have been foiled including one in Germany in 2018 which was almost successful.

    In light of these threats I have no idea why governments even contemplate very fast trains. They are juicy targets, and easy to attack. One stolen truck parked on the line and four hundred people would be dead.

  8. PK

    And given the demonstrated inability of the Victorian Government to maintain it’s railway tracks. what is to suggest that you would ever arrive at your destination (on time or at all)?

  9. John Brumble

    MEL to SYD return is rarely over $500 and often under $400. Make the trip up once a month.

  10. Before I retired, I was regularly flying between Melbourne/Sydney/Canberra and less so Brisbane/Adelaide. I hated every minute of it and don’t miss it one iota. An entire day would be spent on what was often a one hour meeting.

    A VFT would mean an overnight trip each and every time. Mind you, many would probably love the time wasting that the VFT would afford. And I suspect that the VFT would be anything but a VFT most of the time. It’d be sold like windmills which have plated capacities that can rarely, if ever, be achieved.

  11. sfw

    Dunno, I would like to travel without having some low IQ, power tripping security guard going through my bag and then Xraying me then taking me aside for explosive testing and treating me like shit just because he can. I traveled from London to Paris on the fast train, it was a pleasure, plenty of room for me and luggage, left close to the centre of London and arrived near the centre of Paris in close to the same time as flying. I’d pay the same as an airfare from Melb to Sydney for a train that took close to the same time if it left from the city centre and dropped me in the city centre. I’m sick of planes, airports and security,

  12. sfw

    When I say the same time I mean total time not the travel time.

  13. …if it left from the city centre and dropped me in the city centre…

    I wonder where the taxi lines, that now surround airports would congregate if they had to take and pick up passengers from city centres? Where would all those who drive to the airport park their cars, in a secure area?

  14. JohnJJJ

    You assume that travel is wasting time so you measure it in time wasted. I have done enormous volumes of work on trains and almost nothing in the cramped ugly confines of the A380 etc.
    In Europe on the train you can go to the bar and chat to people. Engineers have defined optimized travel as getting to a place as fast as possible, after all that is their objective. Hence they have made the experience as horrible as possible. Self justification. Same as architects. Redefine the asset as ‘functional’ and it becomes brutal.

  15. Ian of Brisbane

    The biggest problem would be the sections from Sydney Central to Camden and Melbourne Southern Cross to Epping /Broadmeadows. How would the trains cross the cities? The Japanese built separate Bullet train only viaducts over their cities, can you imagine the screams if this was proposed. The pressure to run on the existing, congested tracks would be high. Doing so would guarantee a minimum of 2.5 hours (plus inevitable delays) to cover these sections of track. Then add the time to travel the remaining 760 km (at best 3 hours). So don’t expect anything less than a 5.5 hour train ride.

  16. C.L.

    I can see some advantages and attractions – really nice ones too (as others note) – but I think it would end up being subsidised, at least for a long while. Over time, economies and a culture change in public tastes might turn around the ‘business case’ and it might pay its way. Pretty vague idea as things stand now, though.

  17. notafan

    I enjoy catching vft in Europe but lol on it happening here, or ever being economically viable.

  18. Nighthawk the Elder

    VFT has been touted for what, the last 40 years? And every time it comes up, every mayor of every tin pot community along the proposed routes (including the one I live in) wants the VFT to stop at their towns. So instead of being an intercity express service that, maybe, stops in Canberra as well, you end up with a stopping service. That 293 km/hr isn’t going to cut it and the required speed would need to be higher. You might think this is just wishful thinking on their part, but these local government trough feeders are adamant there will be at least one stop in their municipality and will fight tooth and nail to get it.

    It probably is uneconomic as Spurgeon Monkfish III points out. The crap I noted above is just another reason as to why it will never get built.

  19. Vagabond

    What Bemused said ++++

  20. iggie

    The VFT rail line would need to be STRAIGHT to achieve the speed quoted. Good luck with that.

  21. sfw

    Vagabond and Bemused…. I guess that your concerns don’t worry the poms and frogs, You get on another train or bus, a taxi if you have to. Probably the lamest objection you could come up with.

  22. Dave in Marybrook

    …but …but… that lovely Turnbull chap said that it could be paid by “value capture”, the rising value of land along the route being further gouged for rates and stamp duty!

    …welcome back, Sinc.

  23. W Hogg

    I fly Tiger or Jetstar and rarely reach $100. Occasionally $50, more likely to AVV than MEL but it’s the same time from Skybus departure to gate.

    You would still need all the metal detector stuff for a Very Foolish Train.

    At $100 it would need the pax of the entire Brisbane metro.

  24. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    a return trip outside peak hours a couple of weeks in advance can be as little as $100 each way. during peak around the $200 mark each way. if you book a day or so in advance closer to $500 each way.

    only a hyperloop cutting time to an hour might compete, but then it would be a hefty premium price service.

  25. Bruce

    Having traveled on “quick” trains in Japan and Italy, there are a lot of considerations to, well, consider.

    The Shinkansens run on very tight timetables. This is sort-of important when one leaves a terminal every fifteen minutes on a limited number of routes. The run on tracks EXCLUSIVELY used by them.

    Much of it is elevated above the towns and farms. NO level crossings.

    Fast and you drink scarcely ripples at any speed on the journey.

    VERY well patronized.

    Bear in mind, most of the rest of the Japanese rail network, both JR and private, run on narrow (3ft 6 inch) gauge lines which limits top speeds to some extent. Then there are the Queensland Rail “tilt trains” which are no slouch on the same rail gauge.

    The Italian Frecchia Rossa (Red Arrow) trains are not as fast as the Shinkansen, but are comfortable and frequent. Once again, they run on tracks that are not frequented bu lumbering freight trains, and for good reason.

    BOTH Shinkansen and Frecchia Rossa systems are electric. So, forget about running such operations on moonbeams and unicorn farts. There are diesel-electric options, as per sections of the QR “fast-ish” train system. Union Pacific in the US ran gas-turbine locomotives for a while. They could show a serious turn of speed, but were very thirsty and incredibly noisy. When they were used, back in the 1960’s, they were restricted to hauling freight through “fly-over” country and never seen in genteel places.

    High-speed electric traction introduces a whole new raft of interesting problems like, accelerated wear on the cables and the pantograph pickup and aerodynamic challenges in keeping the pickup bar in constant, steady contact with the overhead wire at all speeds. What works at 80Km/h absolutely will not work at 250Km/h++.

    Another common feature with successful “fast trains” is population density.

    CBD to CBD makes a LOT of sense, IF, and it’s a BIG IF, the primary goal is to move people efficiently and not just the scooping up of the “spillage” that seems to be a normal part of any ‘infrastructure’ project.

    Competent engineers might be useful, too. A few years ago, QR spent a LOT of money replacing old wooden sleepers with steel ones that looked very like the ones used in the old Northern Territory railway because they were termite proof. In the last year or so, these have been steadily replaced with heavy concrete sleepers, because the relatively light steel ones flex as trains pass over and this “pumping” motion disturbs the gravel ballast which then enables the rails and sleepers to move a bit more, etc., etc.. And that’s on a suburban network where speeds rarely get above 80Km/hour.

  26. billie

    pffft .. it’s only taxpayer’s money .. give it a go!

  27. Art Vandelay

    There have been more inquiries and business cases into a VFT between Sydney and Melbourne over the last few decades than I can count. Every one of them finds that it’s not economic even when you stack the analysis on the benefits side (as government reviews always do).

    Those reviews don’t even take into account the monumental incompetence of government when it comes to building infrastructure. Any VFT project would be as botched (and as unnecessary) as the NBN and delivered long after all our French diesel subs have rusted.

  28. Bruce in WA

    Great! Build it right after the Kununurra to Perth water pipeline!

    Oh, hang on …

  29. TBH

    I like travelling by rail and have used the Thalys, TGV, Chunnel, ICE and Italian high speed trains. It’s mostly a great experience, but good luck implementing it economically in Australia. As our esteemed author has pointed out above, it has far too many things going against it to be viable.

  30. Ian of Brisbane

    The UK government is currently attempting to build HS2, a high speed train from London to Birmingham. Currently the source of much controversy as the estimated cost of this railway is 100 billion POUNDS.

  31. Vagabond and Bemused…. I guess that your concerns don’t worry the poms and frogs, You get on another train or bus, a taxi if you have to. Probably the lamest objection you could come up with.

    Nothing lame about what I said, it’s just another factor that can/will affect the use of a VFT. So you take one unreliable train/bus to get to another potentially unreliable train.

    I’ve been to Europe and their rail systems are far, far, superior to that which we have, and have been for decades. The trains run reliably, on time and without fuss (most of the time); whereas, not one train in all of Australia’s history has run on time and without issue (an exaggeration but most likely on the mark).

    Additionally, I had a Google Maps check of traveling from say London to Edinburgh (633km, 8h 25m train/1h 15m air) or Paris to Barcelona (1038km, 11h 9m train/1h 40m air), so hows the VFT working in UK/Europe?

  32. Nob

    London to Edinburgh train is 4-5h these days.

    People still fly.

    Getting out to LHR, LGW, LCY, STN is probably easier than getting into Central London for most people.

    Optimum “train beats plane” time is 3h. Once you get beyond 5h on the train, plane wins.

    Densely populated Europe is no comparison with Australia.

  33. Nob

    not one train in all of Australia’s history

    The first commuter line in Australia, Port Melbourne to CBD, was quicker in the 19th century than the same journey today.

  34. What Melbourne-Sydney really needs is not a VFT, but more regional airports to take the load of the major ones. There’s been a proposal for at least a decade that a second airport be built around Koo Wee Rup to cater for those in the east and south east of Melbourne. Nothing of course happens. Much the same would apply to Sydney.

  35. Nob

    I took a flight MIM-MEB a few years ago.
    That’s Merimbula to Essendon.

    Only Queensland is decentralised enough for rail away from the capital to make much sense.

    And Tasmania, but driving’s too easy there.

  36. JB of Sydney/Shanghai

    A few months ago I took the “slow” train from Shanghai to Hangzhou, about 160 kilometres. All electric, it took one hour as it stops at a few stations on the way, but quickly ranks up to 280 k between. Fast train takes 40 minutes without stops. Sadly, while Australia is probably a world leader at enquiries, surveys, feasability studies environmental impact studies and so on, we don’t seem to build much of anything.

  37. Iampeter

    So what’s the argument? You agree the government should be running these things but just want it to be cost effective? Way to agree with the left on everything important and then argue technicalities.
    Also, why gripe about “inexcusable” delays from Qantas if you’re not prepared to call for getting government out of regulating industries to within an inch of their life?

  38. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Thanks Sinc. Just to let people know this post was written on 14 Feb and the delay a byproduct of Sinclair scarpering to Antarctica. In the interim, we’ve seen the fatal XPT derailment, which has borne out the observation about maintaining the security and integrity of the line, which would become a magnet for terrorists and other mischief makers such as extinctification* rebellion.

    areff – if you can buy two red-e Qantas tickets, the return fare drops to around $400 to above $500 depending on the flight times, but they sell out quickly and the next fare up is much more expensive. I’d rather attend these meeting nowadays by videoconference anyway, so I travel a lot less frequently than a few years ago.


  39. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    So what’s the argument?

    FFS, you are a fucking moron. The purpose of the post is to demonstrate that there is NO BUSINESS CASE for a VFT, regardless of who builds or operates it.

    Anyone who proposes a VFT invariably advocates for some government funding of it, or a PPP as I noted above. The most strident advocates of a VFT in this country are labore and the greenfilth (along with the odd lunatic like Clive Palmer). There is no way on this earth they would advocate for a VFT built and operated solely by a private bidder and no private bidder would be stupid enough to even contemplate building and/or operating it without some lovely government (i.e. taxpayer funded) sweeteners.

    I’m opposed to a VFT being built and I’m opposed to any further amount of taxpayers’ money being wasted on business cases, feasibility studies, land resumptions etc.

    I was also opposed to the toy train network being built in Sydney as well. Again, there was zero justification for it ever being built.

    Now sod off and stop posting on this thread, you irredeemable imbecile.

  40. TPL001

    I was involved with RMIT university in investigating a proposal for a VFT on the Eastern seaboard, a couple of years ago. It required at least eight regional centres to have populations of over 200,000. That was the goal, years ago, for Albury-Wodonga; I don’t think it has ever topped 100,000.

    But these dudes, let’s refer to them as sophisticated, adventuring entrepreneurs, suggested that they only need convince the federal government to create incentives for people to move to said cities. Think, here, of the waste and cost for the NBN. And who would own the land around these cities prior to the imminent build up of Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane city folk flocking to these regions? None other than our sophisticated, adventuring entrepreneurs. (Reminds me of the debacle concerning land around Melbourne prior to the 1890s land bust – politicians would buy up the land in new areas that that would then advocate need to be connected to the metropolitan railway network.)

    And the VFT would connect Melbourne to Canberra to Sydney to Brisbane. As far as I am aware the proposal went into a black hole.

  41. Robber Baron

    Why do even need to travel any more? We have the NBN.

  42. JB of Sydney/Shanghai

    The posts earlier about the Chinese VFT were regarding speed of construction, and how it works in China.

    The only benefits from the VFT in Australia are for the fortunate few who hoover up the endless Taxpayer dollars for “studies” etc.
    Also for the crafty politicians who announce it every couple of years.

    The Sydney-Melbourne air route is the second busiest in the world,has been for ages.

  43. Graeme No.3

    If our politicians are keen on wasting money then why not the underground suggestion.
    Bore a tunnel and pump the air out of the front of the train, so the air pressure behind pushes it along. At some point stop sucking air out of the front and shut the tube. The trains momentum carries it along but the air in front is compressed until it reaches atmospheric level. The train coasts to a stop.
    Advantages; no problem with endangered animals, terrorists or local mayors wanting stops, nor costly land acquisition. High speed possible as no way of being derailed nor any other traffic. Stations could be sited very near the centre of each city, even the CBD if judged worthwhile.
    Disadvantage: First proposed in the USA in the 1970’s and never adopted because of the horrendous cost.

  44. PhillipW

    I live in Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands, about 120 km from Sydney, and regularly travel to Melbourne. Flying takes about 6 hours with travel to the airport, waiting to board the flight, the flying time, and the taxi trip into the Melbourne CBD. Alternatively, I can join the XPT at a local train station. It takes 9 hrs to the Melbourne CBD and it is a far more relaxing experience, especially with no security checks. Rather than a fast train an upgrade to track and locomotives might cut several hours off the trip.

  45. stevem

    I had thought a case for a VFT could have been made a few years ago, but not now. My case depended upon a sufficient number of passengers electing to take the train city to city, saving the taxi trips and taxi fares. With a significant portion of Sydney/Melbourne passengers diverted to the trains, there would be no need for a second Sydney airport and the money could be diverted into building the VFT.

    That is no longer the case and the finances no longer make any sense.

  46. Archivist

    Thanks for the great response to my question!

    In case this wasn’t clear, I was not intending to be an advocate for VFT. I was just dubious about Spartacus’ reasoning that a VFT would never happen because crony capitalism would protect the airlines’ interests. Surely (my query went), if the air route is profitable, then that’s a case in favour of a VFT?

    But as you rightly say, the obstacles are huge, the biggest being quite simply the travel time. The faster a train goes, the more it costs, and attaining speeds that are comparable to airlines would (probably) be prohibitive.

    Another problem: there’s no scope for incremental development, This is a risk that bureaucrats tend to underestimate. It’s an all-or-nothing gamble, a moonshot. By contrast, air transport is flexible and can easily increase incrementally. Traditional rail doesn’t have this problem (as much). You build a line, then you extend it, or build a second one. But a VFT line gets built all at once, with no upscaling or downscaling. Those two things (speed and inflexibility) knock it out of contention.

    On the other hand, I’m not convinced by your claim that environmental damage is a dealbreaker. Which side are you on? That sounds like a sort of parody of green nimbyism. And frankly this is the sort of thing where, if it got the green light, the state governments would ride roughshod over green activists.

    The Sydney-to-Melbourne train derailed last weekend with tragic results. Maybe, just maybe, the focus should be on improving the existing service and it’s old, neglected infrastructure. Sure, it’s a more bland, pedestrian project. There’s no grand vision. But we should make sure we can run our current system before we get carried away with fantasies of futuristic but impractical luxuries like a VFT.

  47. The Beer Whisperer

    The thing about airlines is that air doesn’t require maintenance. It kills all competition beyond a certain distance.

    Don’t know why passengers don’t wear parachutes, though 🤷‍♂️

  48. Archivist

    The thing about airlines is that air doesn’t require maintenance. It kills all competition beyond a certain distance.

    Yes… except for merchant shipping. (Water doesn’t require much maintenance either)
    But that’s a great point. By its very nature it will always win against ground transport over long distances.

  49. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    I’m not convinced by your claim that environmental damage is a dealbreaker

    Thanks Archivist. You raise an interesting point. The fact is I didn’t cover the environmental concerns with any great seriousness for several reasons, but I certainly wasn’t asserting they were a deal breaker – just every other aspect of the costs of attempting to build the thing and the practicality of operating it. A key argument for a VFT is the so called reductions in emissions that would occur if it ever was to operate, including diverting passengers from using planes.

    However, do you remember the Black Throated Finch?

    Collectivists will always use endangered species, threats to the environment, despoiling of sacred sites etc, whenever they present an opportunity to delay or prevent a project they oppose. They don’t oppose a VFT or toy trains, so you won’t see them citing such concerns in respect of those examples. Mind you, I do remember the toy train in Sydney being held up over concerns about the “discovery” of hitherto unknown “aboriginal middens” (i.e. deposits of rubbish) around Randwick. There also some major greenfilth meltdowns over the removal of trees in Moore Park along part of the route.

    The Westconnex project in Sydney was subject to hysterical greenfilth objections to the demolition of federation houses in Haberfield and the location of various smokestacks. No doubt the second airport in Sydney will also be subject to various attempts to delay its construction. It has only been held up for a mere 50-60 years, after all.

  50. Bruce of Newcastle

    Yes… except for merchant shipping. (Water doesn’t require much maintenance either)

    Water has pirates.
    Lately lots of pirates.
    Planes are immune from such things at 10,000m.

  51. Cynic of Ayr

    Would the Arabs have enough oil to crack enough diesel fuel to power the trucks to cart the dirt to build this thing?
    The Donald will probably sell us some, I s’pose.

  52. Iampeter

    FFS, you are a fucking moron.

    Well, you went from zero to raving, Cat-level nutjob, in no time flat.
    It’s funny how you still tried to respond though.
    Both because it demonstrates that on some level you know that your original post was nothing more than inane babble, and because you’ve just ended up responding with more inane babble anyway. LOL.

    Anyway, I’ll let you get back to pretending to discuss politics. Maybe make a post about how the ABC is left wing biased, or something? Deep stuff!

  53. cuckoo

    I watched most of those Michael Portillo shows about travelling around the UK by train, and was struck that every time you saw him in a train, especially those historic picturesque ones saved from closure, he was almost the only person in the carriage.

  54. Spurgeon Monkfish III

    Fuck off you detestable knobhead. You’ve been beclowned yet again, you moron.

  55. John A

    Nob #3333112, posted on February 24, 2020 at 7:06 am

    London to Edinburgh train is 4-5h these days.

    People still fly.

    Getting out to LHR, LGW, LCY, STN is probably easier than getting into Central London for most people.

    Optimum “train beats plane” time is 3h. Once you get beyond 5h on the train, plane wins.

    Densely populated Europe is no comparison with Australia.

    This is key. In an area less than the whole of Australia, they have a population of what? 300million for Western Europe?

    And we have a paltry 25million.

    That makes it
    a) unaffordable per head and
    b) impractical because Mel-Syd is equivalent to London to Rome or Warsaw.

    In Europe, air travel is stupid due to short distances and made worse when all the security measures came in to combat hijackings and terrorist attacks. Train travel makes a lot more sense.

    In Australia, distance is the killer. Train infrastructure is the dominant cost per Km and we don’t have the population to justify it.

    To compare with the USA, with similar area but greater population of over 300million, their air travel beats trains handsomely. They face the same security problems but private industry (airlines) beats government (Amtrak rail) all the time. Even with an extensive freight network to subsidise the passenger traffic.

    PS: Air itself (and water) may not require maintenance but the aircraft and ships surely do.

  56. Tim Neilson

    …but …but… that lovely Turnbull chap said that it could be paid by “value capture”, the rising value of land along the route being further gouged for rates and stamp duty!

    “Value” to “capture” would be directly proportional to how many stops the train made.

    There’s no extra “value” added to land which the trains just whiz through.

    And the more stops, the slower the journey, thus the more pointless the whole thing becomes.

    Typical Mick Trumble. NBN on wheels.

  57. Tim Neilson

    Anyway, I’ll let you get back to pretending to discuss politics.

    Poor old Iamashiteater.

    Can’t even tell what subject matter a post is about.

    It would be sad if he wasn’t such a conceited turd.

    Instead every other commenter rolls about helpless with laughter jeering at the risible contemptible buffoon.

    But even the best comedy gets tiresome with repetition. He really needs to give it a rest for a decade or so.

  58. Iampeter

    Fuck off you detestable knobhead. You’ve been beclowned yet again, you moron.

    Wow. If ever there was a need to take your own advice…

    Raving nutjob.

  59. Iampeter

    Instead every other commenter rolls about helpless with laughter jeering at the risible contemptible buffoon.

    Yea sounds like it. You don’t at all sound like you’re in a state of imminent mental breakdown, raving like a lunatic, because even the simplest post triggers you by demonstrating that you are far, far from the political aficionado you like to think you are…


  60. JC

    Look, no one knows if this thing would pay its way and I certainly don’t want to fork over taxpayer money for subsidies. If a private group wants to construct such a thing then well and good, let them take the risk.

  61. notafan

    On the subject of air.travel in Europe.

    My Barcelona to Lisbon leg was $25 plus a €42 slug for 20kg of luggage.

    There are lots of discount airlines and bus lines in the mix in Europe and the vft so not make a lot of stops.

    Even La Rochelle to Paris. One stop at Niort and that was it, discount first class ticket €89.

    I much prefer the train for comfort and convenience though.

    It’s a very competitive environment.

  62. Tim Neilson

    because even the simplest post triggers you by demonstrating that you are far, far from the political aficionado you like to think you are

    I have never claimed to be a “political aficionado”.

    All I’ve ever done in response to your posts is point out your conceit, stupidity and ignorance – all of which are obvious to anyone with normal perceptions and a normal ability to think logically.

  63. Bruce

    @Graeme No 3:

    Regarding your “Pneumatic railway” idea.

    The Yanks were late to the party.

    An experimental working system was briefly used in London well over a century ago. Probably inspired by the vacuum-powered cash shuttles used in the flasher shops around town.

    Steam locomotives are an obvious “challenge” in underground networks, ditto petrol and diesel jobs. Electric traction was in its infancy, so someone had an idea similar to your suggestion. As a “proof of concept” model, it actually worked, but an operational system would have required a LOT of large, coal-fired “pumping stations” to move the air to move the trains. Not to forget a level of constant, reliable communications to track the actual position of each train at any time, so that the appropriate “tunnel-seals” were opened or closed as required.

  64. Tony Tea

    The most agravating thing about interstate travel is not the flight or train ride, it’s the effort to get from home to airport or station. A VFT would be fine if it stopped at the end of my street, but an hour flight Mel/Syd for example is at least two hours outside the main journey. In fact, it’s the commute to the airport. If the VFT can slice the city travel I’m all in, otherwise it’s a was of dosh. Bit like climate change cost structure, I guess. If the trillions spent have a significant beneficial impact on climate (whatever that may entail, I’m in, otherwise it’s bollox economics.

  65. Infidel Tiger

    I would prefer a luxury slow train that took a scenic route and has an excellent wine list.

    We need to slow life down.

    No one actually has to be in Sydney or Melbourne faster, it’s just that airlines are so inhospitable.

  66. PaulW

    Even in the boondoogle capital of California they ended up cutting their attempt at HSR. Similar distances and similar population between SF-LA and SYD-MEL. At those costs it would make the NBN look like good value.

    We don’t have the population density of Europe or Asia so it would never be viable at those costs.

    “Originally the project was expected to cost $33 billion and to be completed next year. It ended up reaching $77 billion and, per one projection made last March, could have ended up growing to $98 billion”


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