On Hills high-speed rail

Today, readers comment on discussions about the potential reintroduction of passenger trains to Mt Barker.

Feb 14, 2024, updated Feb 14, 2024
A Talgo-made high speed train in Europe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Talgo-made high speed train in Europe. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Commenting on the story: New Mount Barker mass transit still on track despite go-slow on high-speed rail 

Good to see rail services to Mt Barker are still being considered, however, South Australia is way behind other capitals in Australia and the world in providing speedy local public transport services.

We are being continually constrained by thinking that expanding existing roads or modifying the current rail bus or tram networks or corridors will provide the answers.

Let’s think outside the box and copy some of the fabulous transport systems that exist in megacities across the world. We are very far behind and need to take a more courageous leap to solve this problem.

Yes, it will cost, but “elephants are only eaten in small bites! Let’s take some risks and some more meaningful bites at this problem. In the meantime, the residents of Mt Barker and our regional towns will continue to pay the price.George van Holst Pellekaan

“Building a new heavy rail corridor through the Adelaide Hills could cut the passenger rail commute to 37.5 minutes, according to the Infrastructure SA study – but would also cost $5.8 billion.”

$5.8b sounds cheap to me. For similar improvements in road infrastructure (in time) we are spending $15.4 billion. The sooner we get on board with non-car transit, the better. – Callan Fleming

I caught one of the last trains to Adelaide from Bridgewater, and at best it could be described as a scenic route taking over an hour to get to town – and that’s from Bridgewater, not Mount Barker. Taking a bus via the freeway used to take 30 minutes or less.

There was a lot of community engagement about continuing to run the passenger rail back then but it didn’t stack up as a commuter route or a scenic journey.

Was this explained to Talgo in the brief? Sounds like a fair waste of money to me so far. What happened to plans to route the freight trains north, around the Ranges? – Paul M Harding

It’s good to see serious discussion around a mass transit/rail link to Mt Barker, but we should all be very clear on what it will take to realise a successful outcome.

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Rail is a high capacity transit solution which requires a complementary built form to provide that capacity. Some will argue that this problem can be solved by using dozens of hectares of high access/high value land for heavily subsidised park and ride.

Others will argue for a more realistic ‘Transit Oriented Development’ solution, with improved bus and cycle connections and user paid parking near stations.

Cheaper ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ may be more realistic, and certainly cheaper, but they also need complementary land use and transport policies to succeed.

Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that any responsible government will invest in a major transit solution without a rock solid commitment to a complementary land use/urban development strategy. – David Mepham

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