Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 10:23 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 17 Jul 2018 | 10:23 | SYDNEY

Terrorism: Trains safer than planes?


Sam Roggeveen


22 September 2010 11:04

High-speed rail (HSR) is back on the Australian political agenda, and Crikey transport blogger Ben Sandilands clearly approves. It's really not The Interpreter's job to get involved in domestic infrastructure debates, and in any case, if you wanted a more sceptical take on whether Australia ought to go down this track (sorry), The Melbourne Urbanist is far better qualified. 

But there is one aspect of Sandilands' advocacy for HSR which is relevant to this blog. Here, he lists some of the advantages HSR has over air travel between Melbourne and Sydney (emphasis added):

And trip times at three hours by rail versus 90 minutes by air plus all the delays, security theatrics and general frustrations of using airports...definitely conspire to put fast rail way ahead of jet airliners over such distances.

Sandilands is surely right that airport security is mostly theatrics, but what makes him think the same theatrics would not be applied to a prominent new piece of infrastructure like a HSR line' Wouldn't terrorists be interested in attacking such a target' True, terrorists seem to have a pre-occupation with targeting air travel, but it's not an exclusive fixation, as residents of Madrid and London well know.

Building a multi-billion dollar train line seems like a strange way to circumvent some poorly-conceived security practices. How about we rethink the practices instead'

Photo by Flickr user Enzojs, used under a Creative Commons license.