VERY FAST TRAINS FOR AUSTRALIA: A SURVEYORS PERSPECTIVE

Compared to Europe, Japan, China, and other parts of the world, Australia’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) is running seriously behind. For a quarter of a century Australia has been looking into the option of (or a similar variation to) building a high-speed train line between Sydney and Melbourne. Unfortunately there has been a lack of political will to spend taxpayers’ money on such a huge project.

 

The cost of such an enormous engineering project is estimated to be between $19 and $48 million per kilometre, meaning a Sydney to Melbourne line could then cost near $40 billion. All the previous Australian attempts to build HSR have been made up of private consortiums looking for Government input and tax breaks, which the Government of the day have baulked at.

 

With higher public awareness of the affects of transport on the environment, in many parts of the world HSR is being planned, built and is being used by the public. Many of these new fast lines are being built due to existing rail and other transport modes reaching saturation point.

 

Undergraduate Thesis by Anthony Grace

Supervised by Craig Roberts

Introduction

Many people assume that the reason Australia has never built HSR is that the country is too big and that the small population could not support it, and that in Europe and China, with much larger populations, the customers and support is feasible. In fact, half a million people travel between Sydney and Melbourne each month, 6 million a year. The Sydney to Melbourne air corridor is the fourth busiest in the world helping produce a large proportion of carbon emissions and pushing the Sydney airport to the limits. A solution therefore, instead of a new airport for Sydney, is that a HSR line could be built to reduce public reliance on the airlines.

 

As can be seen in the  figure above a three to four hour rail journey from Sydney to Melbourne could and would take up to 3 million of the current airline passengers. The 2001 ‘East Coast Very High Speed Train Scoping Study’ commissioned by the Australian Federal Government found that by 2021 a HSR line from Sydney to Melbourne could generate 40 million trips a year mostly at the expense of air travel.

 

Should a HSR project get off the ground in Australia surveyors would be a vital section of the enormous work force. Without the expertise and skills that surveyors can supply the project could not succeed. From the planning phase, the construction phase, right through to the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of a HSR line surveyors would be needed.

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

The scope of the thesis is to introduce HSR and to explain what areas a surveyor would be involved in and how they could assist in the project. An outline of the two different high-speed rail systems will be briefly explained followed by examples of HSR networks around the world and Australia’s past attempts at starting such a project. A discussion of some of the areas a surveyor would be involved in during a HSR project will follow, which includes:

 

· the capture of data for a rail corridor, the process of acquiring land for the project and preparing survey plans for the new rail corridor;

· how a surveyor would set up a survey control network needed to position the rail infrastructure;

· how the specialised high-speed track will be positioned and constructed to millimetre accuracy using survey skills;

· the monitoring of the track and infrastructure using a surveyor’s knowledge and skills; and

· how the surveyor could use GIS in a HSR project.

Unlike Europe, Japan, China, and other parts of the world, Australia’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) is running seriously late. For a quarter of a century Australia has been looking into the option of (or a similar variation of) building a high-speed train line between Sydney and Melbourne. Unfortunately until of late there has been a lack of political will to spend taxpayers’ money on such a huge project.

 

Many countries are building their HSR line due to transport saturation problems, wanting to reduce their reliance on foreign oil, wanting to limit the size of their big cities and wanting to lessen climate concerns. These concerns could easily describe Australia but it is only recently that the need for an east coast HSR network has again surfaced.

 

The aim of this thesis was to introduce HSR and identify from a surveyors perspective how a HSR line could be built in Australia. A number of survey topics were identified and further researched to highlight the surveyor’s role in such a project.

 

A land corridor would need to be identified for the rail line using aerial survey techniques and the land surveyed and acquired. A survey control network would have to be built to allow for the construction and monitoring of the line. Slab track construction techniques and accuracies were identified that would ensure the line was built to high standards to ensure fast, safe service. The geodetic survey monitoring techniques are described to ensure the line is stable and safe. Finally GIS is introduced to show how it can be utilized in a HSR project for planning, construction and monitoring of the line.

 

The research shows that each survey topic is important for the success of a HSR project. A surveyor would be essential for without a surveyor land for the corridor could not legally and safely be transferred from the private owner to the new owner. The land could not be precisely surveyed to ensure the new corridor fits into the existing cadastre. Only a surveyor can carefully and expertly plan and build the control network required to construct the rail line and its associated infrastructure. Only a surveyor is able to utilize this control network and position the slab track and the rail to millimetre accuracy to ensure that the trains can run safely at high speeds. It is the surveyor who can plan, maintain and analyse the monitoring of the HSR network using geodetic techniques with the use of GIS. A surveyor would be essential to an Australian HSR project.

Scope of the Thesis