THE long trek from Buronga to Sydney via public transport could be cut by two hours under an ambitious NSW fast rail proposal.
Ahead of March’s state election, the Coalition-led NSW Government announced an expert panel to investigate how to roll out fast rail between regional centres and the city.
The panel would have a “short to medium term” focus on increasing speeds to 200km/h using existing rail routes and new trains.
Its “medium to long term” focus would be speeds of more than 250km/h, inspired by services in Japan, France and the UK.
This would require new purpose-built lines.
Rail Futures Institute secretary Dr Bill Russell yesterday welcomed the government’s enthusiasm for long-distance rail.
He said it showed NSW and Victoria were now keen to move towards faster rail options, which had positive implications for the push to return passenger services to Mildura.
“Mildura has something in common with some of those more distant areas of NSW and once again it demonstrates that regional Australia wants fast rail for connection to other regional areas as well as the capital,” Dr Russell said.
“NSW did fall a bit behind but they now are working very hard to catch up and provide faster services, which they need to do because the state is more spread out than Victoria.”
Work on the project would start in the next term of government.
Four potential routes have been named as a “starting point” for the panel – from Sydney to Port Macquarie on the north coast, Orange to the west, Goulburn and Canberra to the south-west and Nowra to the south.
Currently, Sunraysia passengers can take a bus which leaves Mildura at 3.40am to Cootamundra, where they can transfer to a train that arrives in Sydney at 8.01pm.
Fast rail could potentially allow users to link up with the fast train network at Goulburn.
Trips from Goulburn to Sydney would be slashed from 2½ hours to 30 minutes if the plan is delivered in full.
“It’s a very, very long trip to go to Sydney from Wentworth or any of the towns like Balranald and so forth, so it’s really excellent that NSW is working to do this,” Dr Russell said.
This story appeared in Wednesday's Sunraysia Daily 05/12/2018. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here