Sydney to Melbourne in three hours on the Aussie bullet train

By David Flynn, August 4 2011
Sydney to Melbourne in three hours on the Aussie bullet train

A high-speed rail network stretching along Australia's east coast would whisk passengers at up to 350km/h between Brisbane to Melbourne on an Aussie bullet-train.

Travel times from Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane would be around three hours, with tickets costing $100-$200; you could traverse the entire 'golden boomerang' of Brisbane to Melbourne in just over six hours.

''Imagine boarding a train in the centre of Sydney - no racing to the airport, no delays, no lost luggage, no taking your shoes off - and then being whisked at 350 kilometres per hour, arriving three hours later in the heart of either Brisbane or Melbourne,'' said the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, in unveiling the Federal Government's high-speed rail study (which can be downloaded here).

"High speed rail could be a game changer. There are of course critics of high speed rail - but its success elsewhere in the world says otherwise."

The price tag to build the network is estimated at $61 billion to $100 billion, based on land acquisition along the coastal corridor.

The Government study flags major stops at Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Newcastle, Sydney, the NSW Southern Highlands, Canberra, Tullamarine Airport and the Melbourne CBD.

'Indicative regional stations' would be located on the Far North Coast, Northern Rivers, Mid-North Coast, Central Coast, Illawarra, Riverina, Murray and Goulburn Valley.

But with a construction timetable stretching to 2036, the project may be approached by building key parts of the route first and then joining these up later on.

Melbourne Greens MP Adam Bandt is calling for the Sydney-Melbourne route, which is already the world's fourth busiest air corridor, to be the first stage constructed.

What would the Aussie bullet train look like?

Earlier this year, the Melbourne branch of Australian design firm Hassell revealed concept plans for a superfast 400km/h train suitable for such a high-speed rail network. 

Hassell dubbed its creation the Australian High Speed Vehicle or A-HSV, in a nod to Australia's iconic Holden Monaro HSV high-performance car.

The double-decker carriages adopt a modern and spacious open-plan design for passengers, along with private berths for business meetings or those who just want to work without interruption. 

That said, it reminds us of the spacious lounge areas, bars and even in-flight gyms originally planned for the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 before the commercial reality of fitting a maximum number of bums on seats took hold.

Does Australia need a high-speed rail network? Can we afford to build it, or can we afford not to built it? And would you choose high-speed rail over flying for trips between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane?

Share your thoughts with your fellow Australian business travellers in the comments box below.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 177

This would be heaven if it came through. The Sydney-Melbourne jet hop is a tiring and stressful experience due to:

  • the airport transfers (heavy traffic at the city end and a long drive at the Melbourne end)
  • the minimum check-in windows
  • the restrictive baggage allowances
  • turning out your pockets and taking your laptop in and out of your bag for the security checks
  • trudging through the airport to your gate (and paying $7 for a coffee)
  • the minimal useful time on the plane due to the 20 minute ascent and descent at both ends.

Sydney to Melbourne door to door is about five hours ... so a three hour train trip would actually be shorter, and less stressful, and you'd have more contiguous time in which you could get work done (and stay connected to the internet through Next G).


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Most of my trips from Sydney to Melbourne are one day trips so the bullet train wouldn't do much for me because I need as many hours on the ground in Melbourne as I can get. But for anything longer I'd much rather take the train and work en route, especially if they have wifi Internet which I am sure they would have to offer in business carriages.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2011

Total posts 148

I dont think that the time difference is really that significant. With online check in, I go staright to the gate and so all up It normally takes just over 2 hours (2 1/2 to be more comfortable) from home to melbourne southern cross.

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