Japan and Chinese interests are lobbying for a high-speed service on Australia's east coast, even though the project has receded from the political agenda, according to Canberra Airport.
The airport's planning director, Noel McCann, said that during Japan's trade delegation to Australia earlier this year a third of the passengers aboard a chartered plane were visiting in relation to the project, which proposes linking Brisbane to Melbourne with a high speed train, and the first leg between Canberra and Sydney.
Mr McCann said Chinese business interests were also continuing and Transport NSW was looking at the Sydney-Canberra corridor.
Meanwhile, the Australasian Railway Association has convened an international panel of speakers from Japan, France, China and Spain to speak, on October 27 at Parliament House, on the economic, social and environmental benefits of high-speed rail.
An ARA spokeswoman said the forum would keep the project on the political agenda. Also speaking will be Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Shadow Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, and the mayors of Wagga, Albury, Shepparton and Goulburn.
Whether Civic or the airport is the best location in Canberra for a high-speed rail station was the topic of a recent debate. Mr McCann gave the case for the airport, saying Singapore Airlines and low-cost carriers were more interested in the train's connections with other modes of transport.
"The number one thing is, wherever the station is we should all support high-speed rail," Mr McCann said.
"We [the airport] are not against the city station, we just think the airport is a viable alternative. And we also say the operator will make the decision - not the airport, not the ACT government or the federal government. They will make the decision on whatever is in it for them."
Architect and planning activist Jack Kershaw argued for a Civic station location. The debate was held at a University of the Third Age forum. At the end, a vote was taken and most people favoured Civic.
Mr Kershaw's case drew on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's studies, which showed that even though an underground station in Ainslie Avenue needed a tunnel under Mount Ainslie, it would have a net benefit of $1 billion compared with other station locations.
"The airport is great, we have a fantastic terminal, but putting a fast train station there is questionable," Mr Kershaw said. "In any case, architecturally it would compete with the terminal.
"Of course, the decision that Badgerys Creek will be Sydney's second airport may have taken the gloss off the case for siting the Canberra station at the airport."
Mr Kershaw said the tunnel was one of 140 on the overall route, which would cost $171 million a kilometre but would get around the buying of land and environmental issues.
Mr Kershaw said that by 2030, when the project's first stage was to be ready, Ainslie Avenue would have developed into a grand boulevard. He would prefer to see the station elsewhere in Ainslie Avenue, closer to Limestone Avenue, to enhance the experience of arriving in the national capital and enjoying views of Parliament House and Mount Ainslie.
The Australasian Railway Association favours an airport station, saying overseas experience highlights the importance of station location and integration with existing transport modes. The airport station removed the need for the Mt Ainslie Tunnel and would save $700 million in tunnelling and station costs, because the airport had offered to built it, the association said.
The ARA does not believe the announcement of a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek discounts the viability of HSR connecting Sydney and Canberra.