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Working for a better rail link

August 22, 2019

Faster rail between Canberra and Sydney is a no-brainer.

We know Canberrans will use a faster train service, and we are committed to making it a reality.

The ACT Government has been working closely with our NSW counterparts over the past few years on improvements to the service, and we are making headway.

The Canberra to Sydney rail corridor presents a unique and significant opportunity to improve connectivity and strengthen the economic, service and social relationship between Canberra, its surrounding regions – including the cities of Goulburn and Queanbeyan – and Greater Sydney.

Canberra and Sydney are centres for diverse sectors, including health, education and employment and better transport connectivity between these cities is sorely needed.


Working with NSW Government

As most of the rail infrastructure upgrades required to improve the Canberra to Sydney rail link are in NSW, most of the key decisions on investment and construction to improve this corridor must be made by the NSW Government.

For our side, the ACT Government has committed $6 million ($5 million of which is matched funding) to develop a detailed business case to prioritise upgrades to the current service and is actively working with the NSW Government.

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian took the issue into the 2019 NSW election, as one of four fast rail corridors that will initially be investigated.

In the recent 2019-2020 NSW Budget, $93 million of the $295 million pre-election commitment was identified for fast rail planning and preconstruction activities across NSW, including for track alignment north of Mittagong. It’s a positive start.


No support from Federal Liberals

The ACT and NSW made a joint submission to the Federal Government last year for investment in a business case to decrease rail travel time between Canberra and Sydney – but it was knocked back.

Despite the Federal Liberals’ claims about infrastructure investment, they knocked back an obvious project – ignoring Canberrans and their NSW Liberals counterparts in the process.

There’s been no comment from ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja, again.


Working on making fast rail a reality

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) is working with Transport for NSW (TfNSW) on improving the Canberra to Sydney rail link.

TfNSW is assessing the needs and opportunities of faster rail between Sydney and Canberra, while TCCS is identifying strategic opportunities for ACT Government regarding partnerships with the NSW and Federal Governments. These relate to:

  1. the preservation of future corridors for a future fast or high-speed rail line;
  2. identifying and securing possible sites for future station locations;
  3. integration with the broader local and regional transport network, including cross border public transport networks to enhance the concept of Canberra as a regional hub and central access point to other major cities;
  4. land use planning changes in and around future station locations;
  5. investment in industry sectors which would enhance the benefits of an improved rail connection between Sydney and Canberra; and
  6. key role and opportunities for Canberra in the context of the region and a future High-Speed Rail system.

We will also work with the Federal Government’s new National Faster Rail Agency to progress fast rail, along with many regional stakeholders.

Canberrans want fast rail. Local NSW councils want fast rail. The NSW Government wants fast rail. The Federal Liberal Party doesn’t want fast rail.

We will continue to work collaboratively to make the decades-old dream a reality.