Monday, March 31, 2008

Deaths/Passenger Kilometre (& Richard Branson)

I was involved in a car crash today, so my next big thing will be safety: rail has a better deaths/passenger kilometre ratio than either cars or planes. I had a look at the ABS website, and I can't find any stats for Australia. The ones I found for Europe and America on the web are from an unreliable source- I might utilise JSTOR for this purpose, I'm sure academic papers have been written on the subject. I'm also interested in things like how much CO2 that works out to be per person, the cost per kilometre, the size of the smallest place to have a station, the size of the largest place not to, etc., etc..

In other news, I learn from NewsRadio today that Virgin owner Richard Branson also owns BritishRail, or some British lines or something, and that he has been invited by the Premier of NSW to fix the rail problems in Sydney.
To that Goliath, this David says: HANDS OFF! But not in a rude way. Apparently the guy tries to make up for his CO2 emissions from planes by promoting rail, too. So he's not all bad. Besides, he could be an invaluable investor.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I wanted to publish a comment I posted on the Independent Weekly's website in response to a letter to the editor of that publication about a suggested tramline extention to Thebaton. If I find it (and I will continue to search) I shall do so.

In other tram-related news, when visiting my parents yesterday, I was given a copy of Portside Messenger, whose front page story was a suggested tramline extention. Holdfast Bay, West Torrens, Charles Sturt and Adelaide City join Port Adelaide Enfield in pushing for a tram to replace the Port train line, extending down Sempaphore Rd and then to Outer Harbour.
This of course forms the beginning of what I planned to be cleveRail's very first new line: from Outer Harbour to Sellick's Beach along the coast.
I strongly support the move, despite it encroaching on what was going to be flagship cleveRail territory. Perhaps, by the time they're done hammering out the deal, cleveRail will exist and be in a position to bid for the right to build. It will likely be many years yet.

A Letter to the Minister for Transport

Here, a copy of my e-mail to Mr. Pat Conlon, minister for Transport, dated 10.3.8:

Dear Mr. Conlon,
I would like to show my unreserved support for your position on the building of an ULTra rail on Port Rd. Please be aware of this when making further policy decisions on this issue in the future. However, having said that, your Liberal counterpart, Mr. McFetridge has an identical position, and articulates a genuine policy alternative: more mass transport.
While the ULTra rail functions essentially as a car (if you built one rail, you'd build four more before the decade was out, just like you do with South Road- a project for which you do not have my unreserved support), mass transport is an efficient way of moving lots of people from where they are to where they want to be.
While cars may eventually be battery powered, and buses solar, there remains the physical presence of so many vehicles. Observe America: even if the cars were carbon-neutral, they would still need multi-lane highways criss-crossing the nation.
Multi-lane highways are expensive to build and maintain, and rely similarly on products derived from oil, of which there is a finite amount. Rail, on the other hand, represents a far more efficient mode of transport, capable of moving large loads of people and goods long distances at low cost and relatively high speed. To show you how seriously I consider this, I would like you to be the first officially to be informed of my intended career:

In the future, your office will table from my yet-to-be-founded company a range of public transport solutions which will solve many of these issues. Without giving too much away, or allowing you to steal my thunder, they include a tram link to all the UniSA campuses (simply as a starting point, rather than a desire to unite them all), down various arterial and commercial roads from the city, and a rail link from Outer Harbour to Sellicks Beach, stopping at all the main suburban beaches on the way. At a national level, all mainland capital cities will be connected by high-speed rail links, reducing air traffic significantly, and helping Australia to meet its post-Kyoto commitments.

This is to say nothing of the freight and tourism arms of the company, which will manage the present-day Southern Cross Rail routes as well as other, purpose-built scenic railways, and reduce the amount of Diesel burnt between Adelaide and Melbourne specifically, and around Australia generally, by at least half. The company will be headquartered in Adelaide, hopefully in a new (yet-to-be-designed) building in Victoria Square, and be entirely carbon-neutral from its first year of operation.

I appreciate your time in reading this. Be aware that I am at heart a Labor voter, and I look forward in five to ten years time to discuss this matter with you or your Labor follower.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Urban Meltdown

Grandpa recommended the book to me, sometime last year. I recently purchased it, and I am currently reading it so that I can lend it to Sandy, who is helping me make a tilt at the ACC in 2010.
Urban Meltdown, by Clive Doucet.
The book fills me with hope in two ways: it shows me many of the arguments I can make to support the reintroduction of rails to Adelaide/Australia, and it fills me with hope that they can be made to pay, and it is only unfair advantage to the motor companies which caused rail to go under, all those decades ago.
On the other hand, it shows me just how significant the control of the motor companies is, and how high a mountain it really is I need to scale in order to beat them.
I am only one person, but if people like Murdoch, Scott, Fox and Packer can do it, so can I.


Sunday, March 16, 2008


cleveRail is the concept name of the company which I imagine to be a Deutsche Bahn-style commuter, freight and tourist rail company in Australia. I will be CEO and managing director, if possible with a controlling stake.
For the idea I am indebted to John Brookes, who helped me, on my recent holiday to visit him in Canberra, to crystalise my ambitions in this area. It was he who first suggested my job description would be "Rail Tycoon", and the idea kind of grew from there. There is a room in Bruce Hall Upper East which will always have a special meaning to me and cleveRail.
The name came to me on a later leg of the same holiday- this time while hiking to Bushman's Bay near Portsea in Melbourne's south. I was staying with my great uncle and aunt, and we were spending a glorious Sunday afternoon communing with Nature.