While we do not currently have a fast train in Australia, on this day in 1988, experts were convinced the Very Fast Train project, which would link Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne in three hours, was a promising one. French fast train specialist, Jean-Pierre Arduin, and consultants from Australia and overseas had come to Canberra to discuss the project.
One theory against it was that the populations of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra were too small for the train to be profitable, but Mr Arduin dismissed this. "The population in the train's corridor is increasing and ... moving," he said. "For these people, to ride 200km or 300km in a car is nothing. They are big travellers ... the question of population is not a problem."
He referred to the French fast train, the TGV, which ran through Paris and Lyon, drawing from a population of 20 million people but taking trips from 22 million people. "This will be the experience in Australia," he said.
Associate professor at the Science University of Tokyo, Dr Hissao Uchiyama, agreed. "The fast trains in Japan and France move more people than there are in the population," he said.
Mr Hugh Gunn, of Hague Consulting Group, said: "It will be costs that determine what happens to the VFT." He said competition was important, as some major airports were situated inconveniently: "I wouldn't underestimate the quality of the train over and above its ability to deliver people right into the hearts of cities at the right time."
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