Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Exciting news in the paper today: FreightLink is in trouble, and is to be sold!
FreightLink, as I understand it, owns/operates the track from just north of Adelaide to Darwin. Aparently it's having trouble paying back the money it borrowed to build the track, so even though transport is doing well, the arm of the company which administers the track is losing money. But I say to that: there are tracks in Queensland which, 120 years after they were built, continue to carry grain from farms to ports. Apparently rail is a very, very long term investment.
The Australian tips Queensland Rail as a key stakeholder in the company, should the private sector indeed step in to bail out FreightLink. It also says that QR is branding itself as a national carrier, so I'm thinking a visit to Brisbane may be in order. I want to have ultimate responsibility for a company which runs all of Australia's rail operations. I will purchase shares in QR if it is a listed company (fingers crossed) and I am also looking out for the other companies named in the article on page 19-20 of today's Australian, and will look into purchasing some of their stock too.
Life is getting exciting!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trams and the wet

The big issue in the paper tomorrow will be that trains were unable to operate in rain this morning. Which is fair.
There are lots of legitimate concerns about the choice of tram that was made: narrow despite wide roads, uncouplable despite large variation in traffic volume, and apparently we got the cheap version which doesn't include a sand box to made tracks less slippery in the rail.
I know we live in Adelaide, but it does sometimes rain and that's when you need the trams the most!
I hope that when I become manager of Australia's rail system, I take notice of these lessons and do things properly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


So I recieved an unsolicited e-mail this morning from one Brian Leedham which fills me with hope and expectation. In it, he told me he was interested in my blog, in what I am banging on about, and has similar ideas himself. There is a link to his site on the edge of this page, "South Australian Rail"
While I am concentrating (perhaps too much, given my preferred mode of urban development) on rail lines within the metropolitan region, he has plans concerning the Barossa Valley and rural rail generally. I think we may complement each other, and I hope that I will be able to meet him and Trevor at some point in the near future.
I was just discussing with Sandy yesterday how hard it is to drive a wedge into the rail industry and build profitably from that. He suggested that I need a few friends, either on board or as silent partners, to set up a company and get into the business. It sounds like I'm part of the way there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Building Australia Fund

It had better include, at the least, a high-speed rail link from Canberra to Sydney. I have lots of other plans for it, and I hope some of it would go towards purchasing houses between the city and the airport so the land can be made a railway.

As Sandy so eloquently texted:
BUILDING AUSTRALIA FUND? Better get to work on some plans!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

City <-> Airport Route

I can't get pictures yet, but when I do, I'll add a link. This is the proposed route of my City-Airport link, with stations included. It would require the purchase of around 120 properties plus land north of Scotland Rd, as well as getting permission from the Airport and some pedestrian foot paths for safety etc..
All in all, a massive development, I know.


Mile End


From GoogleEarth, there appears to be a space between the stadium and the outdoor courts which, with a pedestrian underpass, would allow for a station. It would serve sports fans, netballers, and people working in the nearby industries.

Richmond Oval
How precisely it interacts with James Congdon Dve and South Rd is a tricky one, but essentially the station would be on the NW cnr of the oval, on the south side of Albert St. This would serve footballers, local residents and match-goers.

Cowandilla Pmy
I would prefer, in this order: Milner Rd underpass, Milner Rd being blocked and renamed on one side or a Milner Rd level crossing. The train would continue on the South side of the drain reserve (which would, at the same time, be beautified similar to what is occurring at Breakout Creek) and stop approximately equal to the western end of Fenner Ave so that the kiddies don't have far to walk and the librarians don't have far to walk.

Marion Rd
My preference is N of Craig St (E side) but I could easily be swayed to south of Guy St (W side). In either case an underpass is absolutely necessary. Space, I feel, will not allow a fly way, and the slope from a flyway into a creek on the northern edge will not be possible. Although it might help with flood prevention, who knows. Anyway the route is fairly straight forward, and Weaver Ave would in future form a T-junction with Craig St.

?Morley St?
As the train line continues toward Export Park, then western end of Morley St sppears to be a good place to put an extra station. However, this would be subject to cost-benefit analysis, and I suspect it would not be viable just now. However, land should be acquired now for the possibility.

Export Park
From Morley St, head due west to the southern end of Clifford and swing north. The station would be at Comley St- fairly convenient for people seeing of friends and families who don't want to park, people who work at Export Park and, if pathways were made available and safe, local residents.

[Spur line] [Terminal Foyer/Hotel Lobby]
Not part of the main line, this would be a dedicated track for a dedicated City-Airport express train painted and fitted out specifically for tourists rather than commuters. I'm thinking something along the lines of the KI Ferry with televisions playing a short tape about South Australia (Episodes of Postcards?), information booklets and hotel location information. It would be attractive, and the station would be actually inside the terminal or the hotel lobby for ease of access.

?Business Park?
Meanwhile, on the main track, it would kep going north through Export Park and run parallel with Sir Donald Bradman Drive to a station close to the intersection of that road with Tapleys Hill Road. This would support the new Business Park and local residents. It is in question marks because I don't know how far away the Business Park is, or where it's at with planning etc., and I don't want to pre-emptively put the station where their is going to be a building.

Harbour Town
The train would then continue south along Tapleys Hill Road to Harbour Town and, for the time being, terminate there. However, this is the beginning of a long-term plan to have trains run not only to and from the city, but straight up and down the coast, too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


In testimony to how important this is to me, it is my first procrastination tool of choice. Tonight's topic is freight, and I refer throughout to an article, "Track and Ruin" in The Weekend Australian, pg. 25.
The gist of the argument is, Australia is making the same mistake twice. Just as we failed to capitalise on the coal boom (fuelled partly, we must not forget, but the constrained supply of Australian coal), so we are likely to miss out on a wheat boom because grain cannot be moved from the farms to the ships fast enough.
There are many issues here. Firstly, grain supply in Australia is irregular. There are boom years and bad years. This means much capacity is lying idle some or even most of the time. Apparently a lot of the infrastructure is old- like, 1890's old. Moreover, there are two guages in Victorian grain fields alone, and 22 Australia-wide. The traditional operator (the one with all the know-how I want to have) is Pacific National, which recently pulled out because the business was no longer profitable. There has been systematic underinvestment in infrastructure for years, apparently 12 decades' worth.

It's easy to see these problems from an armchair (or snuggled up in bed with a hot water bottle) and pass judgement, but I have (as ever) a few opinions to add:
Pacific National was short-sighted to pull out just before a projected boom in wheat prices. The cost of transport becomes relatively less, even as absolute costs grow. It could have been profitable.
The government should be investing more (or subsidising private investment) in rail infrastructure. I appreciate that different guages are better for different terrains, but this is ridiculous. I travelled the same train from Budapest to Karlsruhe without once changing. I assume there is some variation in terrain, yet somehow they managed to agree on a guage.
Once it gets to the ports, there are problems with overcrowding there, too. Even at the current rate, the ports are overstocked and choked up- imagine if the rail were operating efficiently! I have no designs on Australia's ports, but I hope whoever does own them manages them better when I'm in charge of Australia's rail freight.
Unlike the coal boom, which is at least partly caused by Australia's inability to supply demand, the wheat boom is completely separate and has nothing to do with us. So a lack of export facility is a really dumb thing. This means we should be doing everything in our power- re-laying century-old line, building new tracks, building new hoppers, exploring more efficient locomotives- everything- to capitalise.

Let me reiterate. I aim for nothing less than to be the owner-operator (personally or through a company) of all of Australia's rail infrastructure. I am willing to take all the risks and make all the sacrifices necessary.
All you have to do is walk to the train station and hop on the band wagon.

Northern Suburbs Rail

Obviously I have been concentrating on the western suburbs so far because that is what I know. However, people have been pressing me with plans for the northern suburbs, and the Facebook group, "Adelaide Needs New Trains" is dead-set keen on rail link to the Barossa so that people can live the rural life and still hop on a train and work/play in the city.
This is precisely the end to which I work, and I urge all readers with a half-baked, uncosted, selfish plan to build an express route from their town to the city to send it to me. If I am to make seriously useful policy, I need to know where people are going, when and how often.
Your thoughts on ticketing and other, non-timetable issues which affect your decision to take public transport or not are also humbly requested.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Company Progress

Today I took big steps in making myself known.
I joined many Facebook groups, and put a link to this blog on every one. (They all have to do with public transport, it's OK!)
I spoke to more people at HJs- Scott still wants his monorail, but when the train is built, he'll get over it.
I decided that I'm going to speak at H2One about it, too.
Decided to make a concept sketch and send it to as many people as my uni printing quota will allow me.

I was speaking to Jacqui this morning, and it turns out that under 'hobbies', I should write, 'expanding public transport'.