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Hurtling along at 400 kilometres per hour in perfect ease and comfort? In the age of budget airlines squeezing in passengers like sardines, could this really be the future of travel in Australia?
One local firm hopes so, and has released its vision of the future with concept designs for a high-speed Australian train.
Designer Hassell's vision of the future offers a hassle-free alternative to crowded planes.
The Australian High Speed Vehicle (or A-HSV) is the design firm's own contribution to the current debate over transport in Australia. The high speed train presents a low carbon, safe mode of travel between Australian capital and regional cities.
The designs arrive as the Federal Government prepares to announce the results of a $20 million feasibility study into a national high-speed rail network next month. In recent weeks firms from around the world have been lobbying Canberra over the plan.
Mark Loughnan, Principal at Hassell, told Fairfax Media, "We're always interested in contributing to public debate on unrealised concepts. We're not proposing an answer, but a concept."
With the route between Melbourne and Sydney one of the busiest air traffic corridors in the world, an opportunity exists for an alternative form of transport - one where passengers can say goodbye to endless queues and delayed flights, babies crying and bad aeroplane food.
Hassell's design, created by a Melbourne team of six over six months, was partly inspired by the iconic Australian 1960s Holden Monaro, which was well-known for its speed.
"The inspiration came from many different aspects, one being the Holden Monaro," said Loughnan.
"The Monaro has an identity in Australia and conjures up an image for everyone. We wanted something that struck a chord with Australians, and was associated with speed."
The A-HSV would certainly offer speed - up to 400 kilometres per hour. A trip from Melbourne to Sydney would take under three hours, Hassell says. And with dining facilities, as well as a convenience store, commuters would be able to comfortably do their daily shopping or have a bite to eat before arriving at their destination.
The double-decker train offers a sophisticated, spacious and modern open-plan look; there are even private booths for business meetings. If Australia needs further inspiration, it need only look to its largest trading partner: China.
Photos: Australia's own high-speed train
The country, already home to the world's biggest bullet-train network, plans to have 16,000 kilometres of high-speed track by 2015. Later this month it will open a a 221 billion-yuan ($A31 billion) high-speed rail line linking its two most important cities: Beijing and Shanghai.
For the moment, however, high-speed rail Down Under remain just a concept.
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