Can we afford to get our cities back on the rails?
By Peter Mares
Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese says we need more rail lines in our cities, because the changing structure of the economy means we need to get ever more people into city centres at the same time. “The only mode capable of doing this is rail because of the numbers it can carry”, said Mr Albanese in late 2012.
Yet Australian cities largely rely on rail lines built before WWII. While there are plenty of projects on the drawing board, costs are high and new investment is rare. Can we afford to get our cities back on the rails? To consider the choices we face, it helps to understand the history behind the rail networks that we take for granted today.
A shorter version of this essay appears in Inside Story in the Canberra Times.
Image source: Russell Street, Flickr