The Illawarra Business Chamber has called on both major parties to prioritise the business case for fast rail between Wollongong and Sydney following the likely May election.
This follows the Federal Government’s budget announcement that it would establish the National Faster Rail Agency to identify and support the development of fast rail connections between capital cities and key regional centres.
Importantly, Wollongong to Sydney was one of five fast rail corridors chosen to share in $44 million in funding for detailed assessment.
Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the announcement was an important opportunity for the Illawarra’s long-neglected rail connectivity challenges to be addressed by a federal government.
“A faster rail link between Sydney and Wollongong would unlock employment opportunities and cut travel times for commuters travelling into the Sydney CBD for work,” said Mr Zarth.
“This represents a great opportunity for the Illawarra because we know the business case for faster rail connecting the economies of Wollongong and Sydney will stack up.”
“If successful, billions will need to be found in future budgets for construction, as our most recent estimates are that the costs of significant upgrades to the South Coast Line will range from $1.4 billion to $2.9 billion.”
“However the outcomes would be game-changing. Currently, the commute time between Wollongong station and Central station is 87 minutes at best, but with the top speed of the fast rail being around 160km/h, this would reduce the travel time to around 31 minutes.”
“In recent years, the efficiency of the South Coast Line has been impacted by increased congestion with passenger and freight trains competing for scarce slot.”
“Infrastructure NSW, the NSW Government’s independent adviser, has indicated that freight movements on the South Coast Line will be displaced by passenger movements by 2030; a looming deadline that shows imminent action is required.”
“The infrastructure itself is ageing and we need a redundancy measure to keep our economy moving in the event of the closure of the South Coast Line, which represents our only rail link to Greater Sydney.”
Media Contact: James Newton (0417 135 858)