A preliminary feasibility study for transporting Surat Basin export coal using Maglev technology

Freeman, Bryan (2013) A preliminary feasibility study for transporting Surat Basin export coal using Maglev technology. [USQ Project]

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Abstract

Australia is one of the world's largest exporters of coal and many mining companies are interested in the coal rich Surat Basin. The problem is that this land is currently inaccessible as there is no feasible transportation infrastructure. Currently there is a joint venture by mining and rail companies to construct the Surat Basin Rail Link which will connect the Surat Basin to Gladstone Port. This proposal is restricted to exporting only 42 Mtpa as any increase in the volume of coal will drastically raise overall costs. The coal export volume from the Surat Basin could be drastically increased with a strong coal demand, as shown from the large amount of mining interest and planned coal mines. This report aims to complete a prefeasibility study for transporting Surat Basin
export coal with Magnetically Levitated Trains (Maglev) as an alternative to Rail if higher export volumes are required. Maglev is considered an alternative proposal
primarily as it has high potential for cost savings in the future for transporting high volumes over long distances. Currently there is no publicly released documentation
surrounding the transportation of coal using Maglev technologies. This provides an exciting opportunity to conduct investigations for the operational, technical and
financial feasibility, giving future engineers guidance if this technology becomes feasible.

In both the technical and financial feasibility aspects, it is evident that Maglev is not currently feasible compared to conventional rail, as there are no designs of Maglev to
transport coal. Preliminary designs completed explain how the primary design concerns are overcome, underlining that once detailed designs have been completed Maglev transporting coal can be technically feasible. While the German Transrapid Maglev is currently the most feasible model it is not financially viable. The expected release of the Japanese MLX in 2025 will have increased characteristics and properties, and lower operational costs. With projected future Maglev technology transporting 75 Mtpa of export coal from the Surat Basin to Gladstone Port, it will have a yearly saving of $532 million dollars. From these savings Maglev's high capital cost will only require 19 years of operation to breakeven to Rail's total cost. For these projected Maglev characteristics to occur, advancements such as improving superconductor technology is required. It is only after these technological advances, that Maglev will be a feasible alternative solution to Rail for transporting coal. In the near future Maglev may become a feasible alternative if the current delays continue to prevent the Surat Basin Rail Link from being approved.


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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying
Supervisors: Drysdale, Trevor
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2014 20:26
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2014 20:26
Uncontrolled Keywords: feasibility study; transport; surat basin coal; maglev technology
Fields of Research : 09 Engineering > 0905 Civil Engineering > 090507 Transport Engineering
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1507 Transportation and Freight Services > 150702 Rail Transportation and Freight Services
Socio-Economic Objective: B Economic Development > 88 Transport > 8801 Ground Transport > 880101 Rail Freight
B Economic Development > 88 Transport > 8801 Ground Transport > 880102 Rail Infrastructure and Networks
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/24634

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