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Businesses call for improvements to the Illawarra Line as Wollongong misses out on HSR

Release Date: 12/04/2013
The Federal Government’s latest study confirms that Wollongong is not a recommended stop on the proposed high-speed rail network, which emphasises the need for the NSW Government to commit to improving the existing Wollongong - Sydney route on the Illawarra line.

“It is disappointing that the report does not recommend a high-speed rail stop in Wollongong. This means the potential economic benefits across the Illawarra from HSR will not be realised and our large commuter population are unlikely to benefit,” said Mike Halloran, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Illawarra Business Chamber.

“While this decision reflects the environmental and engineering challenges associated with the escarpment and the presence of coal seam gas areas, it puts the onus back on NSW Government to deliver on infrastructure and timetabling improvements to reduce travel times along the Illawarra line.

“We have one of the largest commuter populations in NSW, which will not directly benefit from the HSR. The State Government needs to ensure we see the safety of the existing rail line maintained, and travel time improvements delivered,” said Mr Halloran.

The Illawarra Business Chamber also has concerns that the Government’s study proposes a high-speed rail design which is so costly, that it will prohibit governments from ever being able to fund it. The critical issue now is for Federal, State/Territory and local governments to quickly commit to a HSR link and start planning now, as recommended by the Report.

An expert report commissioned by the NSW Business Chamber in 2012, Liveable Sydney: How would High Speed Rail Change Sydney?, found that to reduce the initial cost of HSR and to allow it to be funded as the economics improve over time, high-speed rail should be integrated into Sydney’s existing rail network.

“The NSW Business Chamber report found that integrating high-speed rail into Sydney’s existing rail network is not only possible with appropriate urban rail planning, but it also significantly reduces the large construction costs of a high-speed rail network linking Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra, and ultimately Melbourne and Brisbane,” said Mr Halloran.

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