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, taken essentially all the public 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 soils dictate lower energy consumption by native animals than those any other in the world! The second is that, for the mass freight which Australia’s super-flat terrain is suited to producing, road and air are both very inefficient vis-à-vis rail, and would be more so were fuel less cheap.

Thus, we have yet one more case whereby the need to transfer en masse money spent widening freeways and highways to improving Australia’s antiquated rail system is revealed. 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 (indeed, in environmental terms, any) private car use.

I have always believed rigid constitutional amendments to put an absolute end to new highways and require the transfer of all money thus earmarked 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 sacrifice their lifestyle based on spacious roads, dirt-cheap fuel and unlimited private cars to avoid not only an ecological catastrophe, but major transportation problems too.