High-speed rail (HSR) is becoming commonplace throughout the world. Previous attempts to develop HSR in Australia have been unsuccessful. This article applies scenario-based planning to the introduction of HSR so as to achieve more sustainable intercity mobility along Australia's eastern seaboard. The article identifies regime players and transition drivers to develop a framework depicting possible futures and determine the means by which the transition arena should be managed. It also makes the case for a more 'purposive transition', whereby an optimal pathway is defined and followed, in some instances. The futures developed in the research show what is likely to occur if other pathways are chosen, and suggest how the transition should be governed, from determining which stakeholders' views should be given the most salience, to avoiding a compromised solution that benefits no one.