It is true that there are not many privately owned high speed railways particularly with large distances and small populations but some have been built by governments and later sold to private operators.
So like arctic says it is the initial outlay that kills it and not the running costs but we must not forget the Federal government is giving the land plus $1b to BC and that congestion costs Sydney $10b per year which could be drastically reduced over time by connecting Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney CBD and Mascot with a subway hub at Parramatta.
America too has large distances and while they are now trying to build a privately owned HSR they find getting to city centre too expensive and really that is the main advantage of rail.
This could change as America in particular is looking at far cheaper ways of building and running smaller driverless trains that can compete with planes but are not relying on cheap oil that made the French change their fast train over to electricity due to the oil shock.
One thing that struck me is that every person who flies is one less potential HSR passenger with the result that people who cannot afford the plane are stuck with a more tedious mode as there is not the demand to make HSR economically viable.
Numbers are hard to find and trust but I now think there are about 2,000,000 people fly between Sydney and Canberra per year https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_busiest_air_routes_in_Australia_by_passenger_traffic
Car movements on the Federal highway look to me like about 4,000,000 per year.
And train/coach 40,000,000
Many say why go via Parramatta but the reason is because they will build a fast rail CBD/Parramatta anyway so it would save $3b for the sake of just a few kilometres more plus capturing the passengers to/from Canberra.
My new calculations are assuming it would cost $30b
4% interest plus driverless running costs =$1.5b
Assuming 30m passengers per year @ $50 each = $1.5b
Building HSR to city centres is costly, very costly. Most European HSR's do not run into the city centres fast, they use upgraded existing corridors and trackage often shared with other trains and hence need to be compatible in some way with normal trains.
the issue for HSR in Sydney is this
- Land is very expensive
- Sydney has an extremely large footprint, 50km!
- There is no reasonable capacity in peak left on the Sydney network for sharing.
Even off peak its nearly 50min to Campbelltown and Hornsby. Yet to be viable you need 3 to 3.5hr to Melbourne and 2 to 2.5hr to Canberra.
Canberra Airport station is ok for HSR, but Brisbane will is like Sydney and will need some serious tunneling AND clearing along the corridor.
The alt is a + 40km long tunnel from each end at $250m/km where trains are knocked back to 160km/hr.
It isn't going to happen and hence any HSR (if built) will not have its major station at Central Sydney, Central Brisbane or Central Melbourne.
The reason there is almost no privately run and fully funded HSR is because they don't make money. Even the Japanese private HSR operators running through some of the most densely populated areas in the developed world with idea major centre to major centre speeds and distances get significant other incentives to make their trains viable and the fares again are far more (I believe) than the rubbish published by the Aust HSR report.
Syd to Canberra numbers are 1mpa, not 2m.
at best there is about 1000-1500 people a day you can drag off the planes and this is not enough for more than increasing train capacity by double. The target is cars.