Victorian Coalition plans to spend $633M of tax payer dollars on slow trains

Victoria is headed for another election this year with the vote scheduled for Saturday 24 November 2018. In the lead-up to that date, the Liberal National Coalition is releasing policies in a bit to get out of opposition and into Government. Over the weekend we had a an announcement from Liberal Leader Matthew Guy who announced they would spend $633 Million dollars to upgrade the 30+ year old fleet of V-line train carriages.

The fleet replacement of 16 new train sets, consisting of 96 new railcars, capable of speeds up to 160 km/h will be built in Victoria as a new variant to suit longer haul country travel.  It is expected that there will be six cars per train which will be able to be configured flexibly where required.

This will enable the existing 1980s-era diesel hauled trains to be gradually phased out of service, with the new long haul fleet to service the Warrnambool, Shepparton, Albury, Bairnsdale and Swan Hill lines.

As someone who’s often traveled on said trains between Albury and Melbourne, I’d normally be in favour of a long overdue upgrade, particularly given the current fleet has major issues. Those issues range from delays from slow downs due to poor track conditions, to bad ride comfort (to the point you can barely use a laptop), to entire services being replaced by buses. Here’s the problem. The press release lists the new-generation trains as faster. Technically that’s true, but what’s not explained is how the 130km/h speeds of the proposed trains pails in comparison to the speeds of other modern train systems from around the world.

For comparison, in 2004 (14 years ago), Shanghai’s Maglev started moving passengers at a cool 429km/h (267 mph). Imagine what that does to the travel time and the demand. In the future, that’ll grow to more than 1000km/h with technologies like Hyperloop. At those speeds, more people could practically live in regional cities and work in the city. Modern trains should also be smooth enough to work effectively, while also offering connectivity conducive to modern working and entertainment needs.

Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy said,

“I will bring Victoria’s regional rail into the twenty-first century.

The Liberal Nationals have a strategy to decentralise Victoria’s population to ease the squeeze on Melbourne’s growth.  A modern regional rail service is a central part of our plan.

My government would focus on bringing new jobs to country Victoria, better regional roads and rail as well as improving health and education services.

Daniel Andrews is the Premier for Melbourne – I will be a Premier for all of Victoria.”

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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