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RE: "It's not great and there is no way that it's a highway", letter, January 28.
Spending $2.5 billion on a new Katoomba to Lithgow road to save 10 minutes of travel time is definitely not good value.
The current volume of traffic does not justify the expenditure. Four thousand cars, and 900 trucks a day, gives an average of 3.2 per minute.
Therefore, the current road could handle a lot more traffic before congestion is a good reason for duplicating the road.
A totally new road connected by tunnels under the Blue Mountains, allowing the top speed limit from Bathurst to the express road system at Penrith, to save an hour, will not happen with such a low traffic flow for the billions it will cost.
It is also unlikely to attract the necessary increase in traffic because of the cost.
The cost of a return car trip to Sydney would be as follows: petrol $70, tolls (likely for the new expressway) $40, tolls in Sydney ($42), parking in Sydney CBD or North Sydney for three-plus hours ($69). Total: $221 or $152 (if no parking).
Parking at Manly, Bondi and any beach suburb is around $9 per hour.
Taking the family to Sydney for shopping or to the beach for the day would be an expensive business by car and would be unlikely to be used a lot by ordinary folks.
The $2.5 billion would be better put towards fast rail for the Central West through twin tunnels under the Blue Mountains.
Trains can carry a large number of passengers. The Japanese bullet trains have 1323 seats on each train and travel at 320 kilometres an hour.
The Japanese bullet trains have 1323 seats on each train and travel at 320 kilometres an hour.
Such a service from the Central West would give a travel time from Bathurst to Sydney Central of 43 minutes, with stops at Lithgow, Penrith and Strathfield.
If the cost of tickets was reasonable, every person and family in the Central West would plan to use it regularly for business, shopping, private matters and pleasure.
The best of Sydney would be available to all without travel stress.
A resident of Bathurst could be surfing at Manly Beach or Bondi within two hours of leaving Bathurst and would be home in time for dinner the same day.
Similarly to the road proposal, economics have to be considered for the fast rail.
A change in government policy could allow it to happen if the federal and state governments abandoned the business case philosophy for this project and built this fast rail as a nation-building exercise.
They should consider that such a service would promote the growth of the Central West and, at the same time, solve many problems in Sydney.
Wide open country would allow the population growth of the Sydney area to expand west of the Blue Mountains.
This would solve the housing problems now and in the future for Sydney.
If the fast rail was in place, the number of people using the service would grow quickly so that it would then conform to the business case. What comes first, the chicken or the egg?
It must be admitted that fast rail fares do not come cheap.
However, if a slightly slower service was installed, I could visualise a return fare to Sydney being around $50 (currently $21.60).
The case then for rail against road, by allowing so many more people to benefit for the cost, is overwhelming.
This article first appeared on www.westernadvocate.com.au
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