Expert to plan high-speed train line between Newcastle and Sydney: NSW Government announcement

HIGH speed rail between Sydney and Newcastle is one of four routes identified as part of a proposed train network announced by the NSW Government on Tuesday.

Rail expert Professor Andrew McNaughton has been appointed to confirm the most appropriate routes, train speeds and station locations as part of the project, which could cut travel times to Sydney by more than an hour.

“We know a fast rail network will transform NSW unlike any other project,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“We need to make it easier for people to consider moving to regional NSW and there is no better way to do that than building a fast rail network.”

The four routes identified by the state government are:

  • Northern Route including the Central Coast and Newcastle.
  • Southern Inland Route including Goulburn and Canberra.
  • Western Route including Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange / Parkes.
  • Southern Coastal Route including Wollongong and Nowra.

The high-speed rail would travel at speeds of more than 250 kilometres per hour, with the potential to reduce the travel time from Newcastle to Sydney to just 45 minutes. No delivery dates have been announced.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said $4.6 million has been allocated from the Snowy Hydro Fund to the project. 

“We need to do the work to gauge what is possible and when,” Mr Barilaro said.

"Making regional travel faster, safer and easier brings huge economic potential to NSW regional towns and cities by making it easier to invest, do business, build a lifestyle and visit our regional towns.

The advice from Professor McNaughton will also identify immediate improvements to existing rail corridors, while undertaking ‘long-term visionary planning’.

High-speed rail is set to return to the agenda during the NSW and federal election campaigns. PICTURE: AFR

High-speed rail is set to return to the agenda during the NSW and federal election campaigns. PICTURE: AFR

“In the immediate future, faster rail would see upgrades along existing rail alignments and provide services of at least 200km/h, slashing travel times by one third,” Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance said.

“Ultimately, in the long term, high speed rail would see the development of new alignments and lines – giving the potential to cut travel times by up to 75 per cent.”

The commitment to a feasibility study will place the prospect of faster rail on the agenda for both the federal and state elections next year.

Three business cases for faster rail on the country's east coast are also due to be completed after the federal government set aside funding in March.