Today’s announcement by the NSW Government it will begin the process of identifying potential routes for a fast rail network that includes Wollongong and Nowra has been welcomed by the Illawarra Business Chamber.
Highly-credentialed rail infrastructure expert Professor Andrew McNaughton has been appointed to lead a panel that will provide advice on four potential routes.
The government has indicated it will commence work on a Fast Rail Network Strategy in the first quarter or 2019, which in turn will guide an initial phase of investment in existing rail routes and fleet to enable faster journey speeds which may include a range of track improvements and other measures that take advantage of emerging technology.
Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth said the announcement was a welcome step towards addressing the region’s transport connectivity issues estimated to cost the economy $640 million per annum by 2031.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss solutions to the Illawarra’s transport connectivity constraints, because as a regional economy we cannot afford the looming choke points that our research indicates are coming in 2030 for freight rail and in 2025 for our roads,” said Mr Zarth.
“A mix of rail and road improvements are needed to keep our economy open to the Sydney market. Rail connectivity linking the future Western Sydney Airport, Port Kembla, Western Sydney and Illawarra will provide game changing infrastructure for NSW.”
“We see the construction of the South West Illawarra Rail Link, together with the upgrade of Picton Road to motorway standard, as essential to making this a reality. Likewise, the completion of stages 1, 2 and 3 of the F6 Extension will deliver a 27 minute reduction in travel times to Sydney and a $67 million boost to or economy.”
“The South Coast Line was opened in 1887 and now takes a minimum of 87 minutes to reach Central Station at an average speed of 56 km/h. This is a major issue for passengers and freight users alike, as it represents our only rail link to Greater Sydney.”
“The Illawarra region can no longer rely on 19th Century transport infrastructure. Investing in improved rail connectivity will provide major and substantial economic benefits and improve transport safety for current and future generation,” said Adam Zarth.
Media Contact: James Newton 0417 135 858