Maglev train reappears on agenda

By Mario Christodoulou
Updated November 5 2012 - 7:01am, first published August 1 2008 - 2:31am
An artist's impression of the Maglev train which can travel up to 400km/h. It was back on the agenda at yesterday's infrastructure meeting.

A ten-year-old plan to build a magnetic levitation train that could travel between Wollongong and Sydney in under 30 minutes was dusted off at a meeting of community leaders yesterday.Once hailed as the region's economic saviour, the Maglev train proposal was first touted in 1998.After years in the political wilderness, it was back on the agenda yesterday as state and federal politicians discussed the region's infrastructure priorities in Wollongong.The company behind the Maglev proposal, ThyssenKrupp Transrapid, said the proposal continued to be a viable and cost-effective way of connecting the region with Sydney.Capable of travelling at more than 400km/h, the Maglev train would link Central Station in Sydney with Wollongong and possibly Port Kembla.But parliamentarians poured cold water on the proposal, saying Wollongong did not have the population to warrant the $2 billion proposal.Member for Heathcote Paul McLeay said the region's population density could not justify a fast transport link."In Tokyo (where a Maglev train is being planned) the population density is 5000 people per square kilometre, we have 300," he said."If we want a hyper-expensive new train, to get it to a break-even point, there needs to be a population to service it."Mr McLeay joined state and federal representatives at the infrastructure forum where many threw their support behind the Maldon-Dombarton freight rail line.The Federal Government is on the verge of approving a $300,000 feasibility study aimed at establishing an economic argument for the line's construction.Yesterday's meeting reached a broad consensus that the Maldon-Dombarton rail link should be at the top of the region's infrastructure priorities.Mothballed by the Greiner government, abandoned by the Carr government, it's now hoped the Rudd government will complete the freight rail line aimed at carrying cargo from Port Kembla.Last week Ports Minister Joe Tripodi announced a $600 million plan to almost double Port Kembla's cargo handling capacity, leading to fears the surrounding road network, including Picton Rd, wouldn't cope.Member for Throsby Jennie George said the region had to prioritise its infrastructure proposals. "By comparison with other regions we haven't been as coherent and we haven't seized the opportunities that have come our way," she said.

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