10 December 2018 – With a state election due in early 2019, the NSW Coalition Government is seeking to raise its stock with regional voters, announcing plans that puts fast rail back on the table.
According to a statement released this month, a returned Berejiklian Government will start work on a fast rail network in the next term of government, linking regional centres to each other and Sydney, saying it will significantly slash travel times across the state.
The announcement coincided with the appointment of High Speed Rail expert Professor Andrew McNaughton with the task ahead of him to confirm the most appropriate routes, train speeds and station locations. The advice from Professor McNaughton will pave the way for the NSW Government to take a new approach to the delivery of fast rail by identifying immediate improvements to existing rail corridors, while undertaking what it is calling long-term visionary planning.
The four routes identified by the Government are within 300 kilometres from Sydney:
To fund the studies, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said a $4.6 million allocation from Snowy Hydro Fund to develop fast rail has been set aside.
“We need to do the work to gauge what is possible and when. 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,” Mr Barilaro said.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance added, “In the immediate future, faster rail would see upgrades along existing rail alignments and provide services of at least 200km/h, slashing travel times by one third,”
“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,” Mr Constance said.