The NSW Liberals have made faster regional rail a key election commitment, with four existing routes highlighted for further investigation.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday said a fast rail network would transform the state “unlike any other project”.
“We need to make it easier for people to consider moving to regional NSW and there is no better way to do that than building a fast rail network,” the premier said.
The Government has appointed high speed rail expert Andrew McNaughton to confirm the most appropriate routes, train speeds and station locations for four corridors:
- Northern Route, including Central Coast and Newcastle
- Southern Inland Route, including Goulburn and Canberra
- Western Route, including Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange/Parkes
- Southern Coastal Route, including Wollongong and Nowra
Transport minister Andrew Constance said faster rail would only happen under the NSW Liberals & Nationals.
He said the advice from McNaughton would pave the way first for improvements “in the immediate future” to provide services up to 200km/h.
“Ultimately, in the long term, high speed rail would see the development of new alignments and lines, providing speeds of over 250km/h, with examples overseas travelling up to 350km/h and higher – giving the potential to cut travel times by up to 75 per cent.
The Liberals’ early estimates indicate upgraded ‘faster rail’ would cut travel time between Sydney and Canberra from 4 to 3 hours, while high speed rail would cut the journey to just 1 hour.
Between Sydney and Newcastle, faster rail would improve travel duration by 35 minutes to just 2 hours, while high speed rail would cut the journey to just 45 minutes.
Regional NSW minister John Barilaro said the investigation would be funded by a $4.6 million allocation from the Snowy Hydro Fund.
“We need to do the work to gauge what is possible and when,” he said. “Making regional travel faster, safer and easier brings huge economic potential to NSW regional towns and cities by making it easier to invest, do business, build a lifestyle and visit our regional towns.”
The NSW election will take place on March 23, 2019.