Labor promises to shave 20 minutes off Sydney to Wollongong train trip in $2.4 billion rail plan
Shadow Treasurer, Ryan Park says the plan would remove at least 15-20 minutes from the Sydney to Wollongong rail journey. (Source: Dan Turner)
The New South Wales Opposition has made one its biggest promises of the election campaign with a $2.4 billion transport plan for rail from Sydney to the Illawarra.
The Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park said Labor will shelve plans for the F6 toll road and divert money to improve the T4, or Illawarra, line, including preparation for a tunnel between Thirroul and Waterfall.
“Our focus on this corridor will be on public transport, improving the existing rail lines, the south airport line, the Illawarra line, and the South Coast line,” Mr Park said.
Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park announces Labor’s rail plan for the South Coast with other Labor MP’s Paul Scully, Anna Watson and Labor candidate Andy Higgins sat media conference at Wollongong Railway station. (ABC Illawarra: Gavin Coote)
“We believe by investing in what we have got, based on research and analysis and discussions we have had with experts, we can improve efficiency, increase services and get people off the road back onto public transport.”
In the short and medium term he said there are some priority projects.
“We can straighten the curvature, improve the track alignment, examination of the Stanwell Park viaduct and remove some of the problematic level crossings,” Mr Park said.
Tunnel proposed to cut travel time
A standard trip between the coast and Sydney takes an hour and a half, and Mr Ryan said the improvements would cut that journey down.
“It would remove at least 15–20 minutes from that journey,” he said.
But progression of the tunnel project would be deferred to an expert panel to explore and determine.
“I’m not going to stand here today and say that one of the most difficult excavation and engineering feats, which would be the Thirroul to Waterfall, is not without a significant price tag,” Mr Ryan said.
“We couldn’t do that with this amount alone.”
He said the tunnel could cost an additional $3 billion.
Confidential Cabinet documents seen by the ABC in 2017 show train journey times from Wollongong to Sydney would be slashed to 66 minutes if a $3.6 billion railway tunnel was built, instead of a road extension.
Mr Ryan said the scale and size of the project has up to a year ago proved too large for Transport for NSW to adequately and accurately cost.
Liberal Heathcote MP, Lee Evans said the plan was just a pipe dream,
“I heard this plan in 2003, 2007 and 2011, I don’t think $2.4 billion will even scratch the surface, it would probably take $10 billion to get it off the ground.”
He said a sea cliff rail bridge would be a better option.
Liberal MP Lee Evans said that a rail bridge, similar to the Sea Cliff Bridge that currently runs between the Illawarra suburbs of Coalcliff and Clifton, could be a more viable option than a tunnel. (ABC Illawarra: Justin Huntsdale)