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NSW commits funds to faster rail

A new $500 million commitment in the 2022-23 NSW Budget will bring faster rail a step closer, along with quicker and more reliable connections between Sydney, the Central Coast and Newcastle.

The funding will go to the first stage of the Northern Corridor, helping build two new electrified rail tracks between Tuggerah and Wyong, new platforms and station upgrades, new bridges including over the Wyong River and safeguarding future fast rail connections to the north and south, subject to agreement with the new Federal Government.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government’s Fast Rail vision could slash travel times between Sydney and Newcastle to one hour, Sydney and Gosford to 25 minutes and Sydney to Wollongong in just 45 minutes.

“We’re committed to a rail network that helps shape our State’s growth for the next century, starting with improvements to cut delays and lay the foundations for making faster travel times a reality,” he said.

“This investment will improve reliability and increase capacity in the rail network helping deliver better services closer to home for the people on the Central Coast as we plan a brighter future for the people across the State.”

Treasurer Matt Kean said the project would help transform NSW.

“We’re committing $500 million towards early works, planning and further development of the line that will initially minimise delays and eventually allow high speed travel and drastically cut travel times,” he said.

“This will create tens of thousands of jobs and significantly boost the economy.”

Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Rob Stokes said these upgrades will improve connections as part of the Government’s six cities vision. 

“Infrastructure creates opportunity. Faster and better connections between our great cities will improve reliability, improve travel times and ultimately improve quality of life for the many across our state,” he said.

“These infrastructure improvements have enormous productivity benefits for the whole community and pave the way for further investment down the track.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch said the NSW Government’s commitment for rail improvements on the Central Coast builds on a Federal Government commitment to this great part of the state.

“This investment will help improve the capacity and reliability of the intercity network, and will make journeys to and from our region faster and easier for Central Coast commuters,” he said.

“This is in addition to the $300 million investment in the state-of-the-art rail maintenance yard in Kangy Angy, which has helped create over 90 full time jobs for Central Coast locals.” 

The NSW Government commitment is conditional on $500 million in matched funding from the Commonwealth Government that was announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prior to the federal election.

Site investigations as part of the project are scheduled to commence before the end of 2022.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) said faster rail would have a transformative impact for people living in Newcastle and on the Central Coast.

ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the investment would act as a catalyst for growth in the region and slash travel times for those commuting to the city.

“With Sydney’s population set to rise by a further 3.7 million by 2060, investment in faster rail is needed now to support our sustainable growth,” she said.

The ARA’s Faster Rail Report, released in 2021, confirmed the need for urgent action to deliver faster, more reliable and more frequent services between capital cities and regional centres.

The report found rail travel times that were competitive with the time it takes to drive were crucial to encouraging more people to choose rail.

Wilkie said a train trip of 25 minutes from Gosford to Sydney, or just an hour from Newcastle, would be a game changer for many living and working in the region.

“Investment in faster rail on routes like the Sydney to Central Coast link will make it easier for people to leave the car at home for their daily commute or weekend away,” Wilkie said.

“Highways in and out of Sydney are already reaching capacity, so making rail a genuine mode of choice would help bust congestion and support liveability in these thriving regions.”

Wilkie said faster rail could also be a key driver of economic growth and regional development.

“The global experience tells us faster rail drives urban renewal along the rail corridor, creating the opportunity for new housing and business precincts beyond capital city centres,” she said.