UPDATE: Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle has dismissed a quote by tech billionaire Elon Musk to build a tunnel through the Blue Mountains as a “fun idea” with little chance of actually happening.
“It’s a fun idea, but at this stage Elon Musk’s tunnel loop concept is only compatible with Elon Musk’s own cars and specialist equipment and he is quoting a price for a proprietary product that he hasn’t even finished designing yet,” she said.
“In the meantime, we need to improve the rail link across the Mountains and into the Central West so that public transport and freight rail can relieve the traffic congestion on the Great Western Highway and the Bells Line of Road.
“I would be much more interested in the Tesla company’s battery storage solutions, which is a tried and proven technology in Adelaide, as a solution to some of our state’s energy problems rather than putting public money towards what is basically just another privately owned underground motorway. We have enough of those in New South Wales already. Next idea?”
But the NSW Farmers Association has welcomed the discussion.
Association president, James Jackson, said it’s encouraging to see Tech billionaires Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes discussing the cost of such a project on social media.
“Good on Jeremy Buckingham for tweeting Elon Musk about our proposed tunnel. It’s time the NSW government made it a priority to look beyond the Great Dividing Range and see the enormous economic opportunity the tunnel would have for regional NSW and Western Sydney,” he said.
“One of the biggest challenges to growing the state’s food economy is the inadequate east-west transport connections between the food bowl that is Western NSW, and Sydney.
“Poor transport connections means the just-in-time food supply chains needed for fresh food exports isn’t possible and it’s jeopardising the international competitiveness of agricultural commodities, by adding 30-40 per cent to the cost of agricultural production.
“There would also enormous tourism opportunities for regional towns like Bathurst and Orange, as well as for Western Sydney if people were able to travel by fast train through the Blue Mountains.”
ORIGINAL STORY: A NSW MP has pitched the idea of building a 50-kilometre tunnel through the Blue Mountains to tech billionaire Elon Musk, who quoted “a bargain” to build it, according to tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.
Former Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, who will run as an independent at the next election, tweeted to Mr Musk, “How much to build a 50km tunnel through the Blue Mountains and open up the west of our State?”.
Mr Musk, the American billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the electric car company Tesla and The Boring Company, which is aiming to transform high-speed transportation through tunnels, replied saying it would cost around $750 million with additional costs.
He didn't specify if he was referring to US dollars, in which case it would make it $AUD1.045 billion.
“About $15M/km for a two-way high speed transit, so probably around $750M plus maybe $50M/station,” Mr Musk wrote on Twitter.
“Thanks, mate. Sounds like a bargain,” Mr Buckingham replied to this quote and promised to raise it with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, who was tagged in the exchange, agreed the proposal; “sounds like a bargain for Sydney”.
Mr Cannon-Brookes and Mr Musk have history when it comes to making infrastructure deals via Twitter.
Mr Musk's company installed the world's largest lithium battery in South Australia in 2017, after he guaranteed over Twitter it could be done within 100 days of a contract being signed or it would be free, in response to a tweet from Mr Cannon-Brookes.
Mr Cannon-Brookes said after the battery was completed that he has “never been more happy to lose a bet”.
Of the tunnel proposal, Mr Buckingham said it “could be a game changer to go under the Blue Mountains with a modern link between Sydney and the west”.
- The article, 'Sounds like a bargain': Elon Musk quotes to build tunnel through Blue Mountains’, first appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.