Rail News

May 12 , 2022

‘Radically faster’: Parramatta at centre of NSW’s high-speed rail future

The Sydney Morning Herald
May 11, 2022 (Australia)

Greater Parramatta has been singled out as the location for a major hub for dedicated fast rail lines connecting Sydney to Newcastle, Wollongong and the state’s west as part of long-term plans to boost public transport links.

A confidential cabinet document – obtained by the Herald and Nine News – also names Epping and an area around Campbelltown and Macarthur as sites for “key interchanges” to link the fast-rail lines to Sydney’s suburban rail network.

The draft strategy says a major fast-rail hub in greater Parramatta would deliver “easy access” to employment centres and health and education precincts.

It lays out a need to boost public transport links between Sydney and large population centres in Wollongong, the Central Coast and Newcastle.

“The transformation will include both new, dedicated fast rail lines to enable train speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour, and improvements to the existing network to increase speeds on those sections to a maximum of 160 kilometres per hour,” it says.

“It also includes new trains and new or improved stations that, combined with radically faster travel times, will deliver a step change in customer experiences.”

The 320-page strategy by Transport for NSW cautions that dedicated fast rail lines would need to be built in sections over two to three decades “given the scale of the task”.

The cost of building a fast rail line between Sydney and Newcastle alone has been estimated to run into the tens of billions of dollars.

The Future Transport Strategy: Towards 2061 strategy estimates fast-rail trains will slash travel times between greater Parramatta and Newcastle from 2.5 hours to an hour, and result in a 25-minute journey from Parramatta to Gosford.

It also makes mention of a fast-rail line between Parramatta and Canberra, which could more than halve travel times to 90 minutes.

Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Minister Rob Stokes insisted the confidential document was yet to be considered or endorsed by government, but added that Parramatta could one day be the heart of greater Sydney.

“Just as St Pancras Station is at the heart of Greater London, a transport interchange near Parramatta could be at the heart of our city region,” he said.

Labor leader Chris Minns was sceptical of any plan for fast rail across NSW when the government was struggling to run the existing train network.

“Most communities don’t have regular trains let alone yet another thought bubble from the NSW government,” he said.

“The truth is they have failed at the most fundamental job of delivering public transport to the growing populations in western Sydney. ”

The same confidential document also floated the introduction of an inner-city congestion tax and more distance-based road user charging.

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday insisted that his government would not adopt any recommendation for a congestion tax.

“The members of the cabinet make the decisions on public policy,” he told parliament. “I encourage members of the public service to come up with new ideas. That’s what good government is all about, but it’s up to the elected officials to make the decision.”

Perrottet said a congestion tax policy would be “laughed out of cabinet”.

The fast-rail ambitions in the strategic document – dated February this year – come almost three years after a British rail expert commissioned by the government completed a report into options for faster rail in NSW. Professor Andrew McNaughton’s report has never been released publicly.

Source
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/radically-faster-parramatta-at-centre-of-nsw-s-high-speed-rail-future-20220511-p5akev.html

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