'Sounds like a bargain': Elon Musk could build a $1 billion high speed tunnel to help ease Sydney traffic

Getty ImagesElon Musk

  • Sydney traffic is terrible and the city can’t expand westwards because of the mountain range.
  • NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham wants to fix it and asked Elon Musk how much a tunnel through the Blue Mountains would cost.
  • Musk quoted a cost of $1 billion.
  • Buckingham, and even Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes, think that’s a bargain.

Tweet and Elon Musk listens.

The billionaire entrepreneur and founder of Tesla, SpaceX and the Boring Company, volunteered that he could build a $1 billion high speed tunnel to help ease Sydney traffic after NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham asked how much such a plan would cost.

Buckingham tweeted Musk: “I’m a lawmaker in Sydney, which is choking with traffic. How much to build a 50km tunnel through the Blue Mountains and open up the west of our State?”

“About $15M/km for a two way high speed transit, so probably around $750M plus maybe $50M/station,” Musk replied.

“Thanks mate. Sounds like a bargain. Could be a game changer to go under the Blue Mountains with a modern link between Sydney and the west. I’ll raise it with the Premier @GladysB other colleagues, the community, and get back to you,” Buckingham said, adding he would focus on the plan as he seeks re-election.

Also tagged in the conversation was Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes who agreed the price was a great deal.

Here’s a look at the proposed tunnel which would start at Penrith and end at Lithgow.

Jeremy Buckingham/ Twitter

Based on the Boring Company’s first tunnel in LA, the high-speed subterranean network is capable of transporting vehicles and pedestrians at 240km/hr.

The tunnelling process is much slower, however.

“Aspirationally, we should be slightly faster than a snail,” Musk said previously about the tunneling process.

He said that most tunneling equipment moves 14 times slower than a snail, and hopes to match to snail-speed with The Boring Company.

In the past, Musk has also suggested fares for such a transit in the US could cost as little as $US1 ($AU1.40) per person. Though the actual cost will likely depend on a number of factors, and require input from multiple local and state groups.

Now, nobody believed Musk when he connected over Twitter with Cannon-Brookes on a promise to build a new renewable battery for South Australia. So let’s not be entirely cynical, but $15 million per kilometre is a very specific number that almost reads like a cost commitment. In a country that has an horrendous track record of cost blow-outs on infrastructure projects, and when we’re talking about putting a massive tunnel under a UNESCO World-Heritage-listed National Park inhabited by some very eco-conscious residents, it’s worth recalling that there is a specific local phrase for promised infrastructure projects: the bullshit express.

All aboard.

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