Saturday, 22 April 2017

V-Line’s complaint shows why ZRB is forty years overdue

According to this post, twenty-two Victorian councils have written to Premier Daniel Andrews demanding that something be done to allow railways to operate at above 33˚C (91.4˚F).

These councils say Victoria has “far more freight than it can move”.

The issue of these regulations is that greenhouse-intensive road and air transport have, owing to the almost absolute power of the mining and road interests over transportation in Australia combined with lack of public pressure, received essentially all the government transportation budget. This is an unsustainable and untenable state of affairs on two grounds. The first is that road and air transportation are much more greenhouse- and energy-intensive than rail – in a nation whose exceptionally old soils dictate lower energy consumption by native animals than any other landmass! The second is that, for the mass freight which Australia’s uniquely flat terrain provides extreme comparative advantage, road and air are both severely inefficient vis-à-vis rail, and would be more so were fuel less cheap.

Thus, we have yet one more case that reveals the need to transfer all money earmarked for widening freeways and highways to improving Australia’s antiquated rail system. The question is how to do it given the silent, unchallenged power of the road lobby and the unwillingness of Australia’s suburban majority to sacrifice completely their rights to unrestricted private car usage – in fact, in ecological terms, their very right to own cars.

I have always believed rigid constitutional amendments to require an absolute end to new highways and the transfer of all money thus allocated to rail as the best way, because of its simplicity and lack of compromise with the severe low-energy-consumption dictates of Australia’s ecology. The problem is how to convey to the suburban masses why they must radically alter any lifestyle based on spacious roads, dirt-cheap fuel and unlimited private cars to avoid not only an ecological catastrophe, but major transportation problems too.