And why do you you think all these intercity and intercapital roads tend to be direct and where possible avoiding residential areas ? I'll substitute for eyes and ears that don't work , these routes WORK for road traffics including many commuters who have been FAILED by rail transport because it cannot cope now let alone into the future . Yep thats right the number of cars that pour out of Central Coast residential areas way before daylight paint a clear picture of the rail corridors blatent FAILURE to move people let alone anything else . The situation is bad now and getting worse so what are we doing about it ? Why of course we are justifying reasons to do jack ship about it and bleating about mining and carbon dioxide taxes like they are going to save the day .
Road was able to kill rail due to, among other things:
- the abundance of cheap oil energy, a prerequisite of the fuel thirsty motoring industry,
- powerful oil and motoring lobbies that were able to steer government policy to effectively subsidize their industries, create demand for their new products, brainwash the public and eliminate monopolistic/rail-favouring transport regulation
- the rise of cheap debt to fund motor vehicle purchases (moreso in the US),
- the postwar Golden Age when ordinary people were seeing real gains in material wealth (now dead),
- the speed, convenience, flexibility, feeling of freedom/independence, privacy and other psychological factors that compel people to blow huge sums of money on motoring instead of season rail tickets, which combined with propaganda and the Golden Age gave birth to the die hard motoring culture,
- the scattering of costs away from single vertically integrated operators that could easily be labelled as costly and inefficient to millions of subsidised motorists and trucking companies (private citizens being able to manage their finances as badly as they want), and
- the high infrastructure, safety and regulatory costs of rail (getting worse)
But at the root of it is cheap oil, something that is becoming a thing of the past. In Australia and North America, while coal was king, rail was king. Once oil became king, trains and trams were shunted into a siding* by road and air and coal relegated to electricity generation. With a few exceptions, the country rail alignments that have survived are where we left them when we collectively switched to oil and road transport decades ago.
Rail will continue to get shafted so long as road (and air) transport remains viable
and there's no guarantee that it will ever make a full comeback.
*or in the case of Sydney's trams, thrown on the barbecue...
And yes the wind farms installed at great cost are doing jack about overall power generation . Roof top solar rorts , yeah doing JS as well .
Mmmmmm alternative power generation methods like solar, wind and tidal will never be able to replace what coal and natural gas are doing for electricity in the broader economy now, let alone continue to grow to support the mythical "never ending growth economy" and myth of eternal progress. Not feasible, not going to happen. Does that mean they should be avoided altogether? I don't think so. However, we need to be realistic about what they can and can't do and not squander billions on silly short term indicative planning.
Semis , B doubles and soon to be B triples go from strength to strength outside metropolitan areas , not that magnificent interstate freeways were built with them in mind - surely .
Bigger trucks must represent a drive towards higher profits that require minimal government/taxpayer funding using existing road infrastructure that has popular support and already had billions wasted on it. Totally dependent on cheap(ish) oil, heavily subsidized in one way or another due to political support and a powerful lobby and dangerous. And I love the forecasts of B-Triples allowing "almost a million fewer B-double-equivalent trips over a 30-year period", no doubt calculated with some sort of mythical industry growth rate in mind.
I leave you with this , should interstate rail freight wither starve out and die there no way the governments will keep these corridors open just for XPTs. More people will die on or near the road links and the fuel usage and pollution volumes will continue to rise .
I hope the economics of road transport start to shift in favour of rail before interstate rail freight does disappear. Energy (diesel, petrol) constraints may have that effect. High fuel prices and the broader economic effects could also be very harmful to rail, but rail might be able to stick it out longer while there is still demand for people and goods to be moved around.
In the meantime, statements like this are an indication of one of the problems facing country rail:...existing road user charging system for heavy vehicles underrecovers road costs attributable to classes of vehicles that compete directly with railways. This confers a competitive advantage on long distance road transport operators.
The century-plus old alignments may in fact turn out to be much more adequate for transport demands in the future than we presently believe, but they need to remain open and in reasonable condition to be of any use.
Now, a little bit of political rant. Stop reading here if you are not interested.
Not a bad rant, actually.