A $500 million commitment from the New South Wales Government will bring faster rail a step closer to reality, pending agreement with the Federal Government.
Announced ahead of the 2022-23 state budget, the funding will go to the first stage of the Northern Corridor, helping build two new electrified tracks between Tuggerah and Wyong, new platforms and station upgrades, and new bridges – including over the Wyong River.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the State Government’s vision for the fast rail project could cut travel times between Sydney and Newcastle to one hour, Sydney and Gosford to 25 minutes, and Sydney to Wollongong to 45 minutes.
“This investment will improve reliability and increase capacity in the rail network helping deliver better services closer to home for the people on the Central Coast as we plan a brighter future for the people across the state,” he said.
Treasurer Matt Kean said: “We’re committing $500 million towards early works, planning and further development of the line that will initially minimise delays and eventually allow high speed travel and drastically cut travel times.”
Rob Stokes, Minister for Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport said such infrastructure improvements would benefit the whole community and pave the way for further investment down the track.
“Infrastructure creates opportunity,” he said. “Faster and better connections between our great cities will improve reliability, improve travel times and ultimately improve quality of life for the many across our state.”
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) welcomed the commitment.
ARA Chief Executive Officer Caroline Wilkie said the investment would be transformative for people living in Newcastle and on the Central Coast, and be a catalyst for growth in those areas.
“With Sydney’s population set to rise by a further 3.7 million by 2060, investment in faster rail is needed now to support sustainable growth,” she said.
The ARA released its Faster Rail Report in 2021, which recommended urgent action to deliver faster, more reliable and more frequent services between capital cities and regional centres.
Consumer research by the ARA last year reported that 35 per cent of Sydney residents surveyed would consider relocating to regional areas after COVID-19, with 49 per cent saying faster rail options would make them more likely to consider a move.
Wilkie said investment in faster rail would not only help relieve congestion on busy Sydney highways but also drive economic growth and regional development.
“The global experience tells us faster rail drives urban renewal along the rail corridor, creating the opportunity for new housing and business precincts beyond capital city centres,” she said.
Site investigations for the project are scheduled to commence before the end of 2022.
For more information, visit: www.nsw.gov.au