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Your report (Page 5, May 26) of the Grattan Institute stating the high speed train would be too costly gives no justification for that assertion other than a cynical and misleading suggestion that it will cost $10,000 per taxpayer for the primary benefit of business travellers. There is no present value total cost estimate but a suggestion it will take 50 years.
A high-speed train in Poland. Picture: Getty Images
If by taxpayer they mean those working it would constitute 16 million people, and hence cost in today's dollars 160 billion, a figure twice what has been suggested in other discussions on this project.
There will be no sudden $10,000 impost. Rather, at best $200 per annum per taxpayer and reducing significantly each year as the population increases. Such projects cannot be assessed purely on cost, the train will benefit millions yearly. Its reduction of congestion (encouraging decentralisation) measurably saves billions of dollars annually. The submarine project, of similar magnitude, will be used by a handful of submariners.
We have lost the car industry, oil refining, large sectors of manufacturing and so on. The car subsidy was $80 per person per year. Germany's figure was $450, the US, UK and major European counties all $250 and upwards per capita. The arguments for the project are compelling. The opposition on cost grounds simply does not add up.
John Buxton, Red Hill
This article first appeared on www.canberratimes.com.au
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