$500m would build up to 50km of single greenfield track with minimal signally and no passing loops over new moderate terrain for the Canberra Branch.
True. Which gets the run time down from 4:20 to 3:50 ish - maybe 3:45.
This is still 45min slower than driving, and still slower than the bus.
Hence this is why I don't think it will achieve much.
$2B on the main south would probably do the following
- Quad complete on East Hills Line to Glenfield
- about 100km of new duplicated track on main south
The project design I've been tinkering with involves rebuilding the Hilltop line - mostly on the existing alignment or on the pre-1890 alignment (generally with a min curve radius of 2000m), and sparking one track between Picton and Macarthur, and Mittagong and Goulburn. This splits the ARTC and RailCorp operations, both becoming single track. A few deviations to create ARTC crossing loops also creates lengthy stretches of >1500m radius curves and hence >200kph running for appropriate EMU sets.
The capex for this project comes in at ~$1.5bil, and would deliver an hourly service with a 2:30 transit time from Canberra to Sydney. Operating costs would be more or less what they are now (RailCorp operates 6 trains concurrently to service the highlands and Canberra, including two of the high cost Xplorers). Yet it would probably have 5-7 times the patronage and corresponding revenue.
To achieve a sub 2:00 transit, more deviations are needed: many more, as well as addressing the Molongolo Canyon. I think that next 30min would cost an extra $1.5bil
To get sub 90min, that'd need HSR alignment, and from Glenfield to Canberra along the proposed HSR route would be ~$8bil (note to self: I need to go and sort out exactly how much the Syd-Glenfield bit of the HSR project was priced at). To get sub 60min means completing HSR into Central, and the 80km of single bore below seal level large diameter tunnels (plus new Sydney terminal), and the full $18bil HSR price tag.
Assuming the service isn't too expensive to use, my model suggests a sub 2:00 transit time yields ~20 trips per person (in the catchment) per year, or 400k x 20 = 8mil per year. Sub 1:30 is 40 trips per year, so 16mil. Sub 60min is 80 (in my model, Sydney suburban catchments like Campbelltown are around 100) so 32mil per year. But for this to be right, it has to be cheap enough to use like a suburban train. Mode substitution (all modes, not just air) isn't anywhere near enough to generate this sort of patronage.
I think this is the conclusion most HSR studies have come to. Air traffic substitution alone doesn't justify these projects.
@Eddie, I think the MSR projects make a bit of sense, and they would partially achieve your goal of freeing up slots in Kingsford Smith. But I doubt even HSR would make enough of a difference to eliminate the need for Badgeries Creek