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While no specific major infrastructure initiatives were identified for the Illawarra region in the 2017 Federal Budget, the announcement of a $10 billion National Rail Program identifies a source of funding for the desperately needed South West Illawarra Rail Line (SWIRL).

Illawarra First Executive Director, Chris Lamont, said the lengthy travel time by train between Wollongong and Sydney reduces employment opportunities and business investment in both Sydney and the Illawarra. A portion of the $10 billion National Rail Program, announced in the Budget to connect cities to regional areas, should be earmarked to fund the construction of the SWIRL as a first and major project.

“We are talking about connecting Australia’s largest economy (Sydney), the third largest economy (Western Sydney) and the Illawarra, NSW’s third largest economy,” said Chris Lamont.

Estimates developed by the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong indicate the cost of constructing the SWIRL, as both a freight and passenger rail corridor, to be in the order of $1 billion. The investment is desperately needed to provide more efficient and effective passenger and freight rail transport.

“The existing South Coast rail service connecting Sydney to Wollongong is far too slow with the trip between Wollongong and Sydney Central Station taking more than 1.5 hours to travel 67 kms. Sub-standard rail infrastructure between Sydney and the Illawarra has been an impediment to economic activity, work and leisure opportunities for residents of the Illawarra and Sydney,” said Chris Lamont.

“We need rail infrastructure that can provide a substantial reduction in rail commuting time for the growing number of people who are travelling between the Illawarra and greater Sydney each day,” said Chris Lamont.

Also supporting calls for funding of the project:

The Hon Sharon Bird MP, Member for Cunningham and Stephen Jones, Member for Throsby
“Maldon-Dombarton ticks all the boxes, it really should be progressed
so I’m going to seek advice on where they may have some capacity to put some money on the table and get this project started. I’m following this up with the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport”.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast, Gareth Ward
“I am very excited by the opportunities presented by this $10Billion fund and what it may mean for regions like the Illawarra. We deserve our share of this significant Commonwealth Investment. We have seen the NSW Government invest record sums into transport infrastructure in the Illawarra and I call on the Commonwealth to ensure these funds benefit our vibrant and growing region”.

Ryan Park MP, Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra
The Maldon-Dombarton is a key piece of infrastructure that will support the Illawarra’s economic development and jobs growth. It is frustrating that this project has not been supported to date.

Paul Scully MP, Member for Wollongong
“NSW and Federal Labor are on the same page – we both want the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link built. NSW Labor has committed $50 million to progress the project”.

Media Contact:

Chris Lamont Executive Director, Illawarra Business Chamber T: 02 4223 0302 / M: 0414765040

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