Despite enthusiastic support from the Qanda set, high speed rail between the major capital cities isn't a reality in Australia.

Wikivoyage mentions high speed trains from Brisbane to Rockhampton, and from Brisbane to Cairns, presumably the Tilt Train. Wikipedia's articles on the Tilt Train (Queensland) and the V/Line VLocity mention maximum speeds of 160 km/h, though the Tilt Train article mentioned a record of 210 km/h back in 1999.

Does Australia have any trains that can go faster than 160 km/h? If not, is it because of a government limit?

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    @Downvoter what's wrong with my question? – Andrew Grimm Dec 6 '15 at 1:16

Both the XPT and the Tilt Train can go faster than 160 km/h, and have done so for short distances in trial runs. Full list here.

However, in operation both are capped at a maximum of 160 km/h, and typically average out much slower (the Sydney-Melbourne XPT barely beats 80 km/h for the trip).

As for why specifically 160 km/h, it's a typical cut off worldwide for "higher speed trains". Exceeding that is generally considered to require high-stability concrete ties for tracks (Australia still mostly uses wood) and no level crossings (rural Australia has hundreds).

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    Yeah -- the concrete ties aren't too terribly hard to put in (and are a nice upgrade all around for mainline track, no matter what sort of trains you're putting on it); HOWEVER, trying to get rid of that giant pile of level crossings on a rural line...good luck with that one!! – UnrecognizedFallingObject Dec 6 '15 at 16:35
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    You also have the reasoning of track buckling which Australia is prone to as temperatures climb past 30oC constantly. A high speed train hitting buckled track (which in some instances can happen in just a few seconds - rendering checks almost useless) would almost certainly lead to a fatal disaster. – The Wandering Coder May 23 '16 at 0:43
  • @TheWanderingCoder I'm not sure that is a real problem anymore: southern China, southern Japan and Taiwan (maybe also Spain) all have temperatures regularly reaching 30℃+ and high-speed rail run just fine (well, most of the time), so I'm sure this has been dealt with very well. – xuq01 Dec 29 '18 at 8:06

Does Australia have any trains that can go faster than 160 km/h?

Yes. The top speed of the Melbourne-Sydney XPT is 190km/h. The Queensland tilt train can do 210km/h.

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    They can do it, but do they have timetables in which they do actually reach and maintain speeds over 160 km/h? – Willeke Dec 6 '15 at 10:38

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