Only five large scale projects have been announced by Transport for NSW as part of the ambitious statewide 40 year Draft Future Transport Strategy for the Goulburn district.
According to the report, the Goulburn district will see improvements to the Hume Highway and the Sydney-Canberra rail corridor over the next 10 years.
An electrified intercity network from Macarthur to Goulburn and further high speed preservation over 10-20 years. A high speed rail connection to and from the East Coast, over 14 inland districts, is a longer term plan pegged to begin in 20 years or later.
Transport for NSW representatives addressed a small group in Goulburn on Tuesday night, with many criticising what they saw as a lack of foresight in the region’s current resources and geography for the multi-million dollar project.
“I was disappointed to see that the timelines for the electrification and the realignment of the tracks will be put in the 10-20 year span, and very disappointed about the lack of commitment to buy tilt trains as part of the upcoming fleet upgrade,” Southern Tablelands Rail Users Group (STRUG) Greg Price said.
“We’ve been led to believe the government was seriously interested in contesting the Canberra-to-Sydney airlines. If you don’t buy the tilt trains can’t compete with the airlines.
“Part of the presentation is that they wanted to make better use of new technology, I can’t see that’s really the case if they’re not even embracing old technology such as the tilt trains.”
In 2012, Transport for NSW released a 2012 NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan boasting 700 projects –438 of which are already completed.
The draft plans released on Sunday include a freight and ports, road safety, maritime safety, tourism and transport, and a disability inclusion strategy.
It also aims to ease transport pressure from Sydney and the East Coast, and allow smaller hubs and cities such as Goulburn to connect to outlying areas more efficiently.
Julie Gee, project director for regional planning, which covers every area outside of Sydney, admitted Transport for NSW had “been at fault” in planning past transport services “in isolation”.
“We planned roads without consideration of their role for freight and passenger movement,” Ms Gee said on the night.
“It’s about making sure transport infrastructure reflects the use and land surrounding it. We have some ideas of how the future will look like, but obviously things can change planning, the framework can be agile.”
Statistics collected by Transport for NSW predict the population of Sydney will grow to about eight million, contrasting the 600,000 forecast for regional NSW.
Mr Price contested the renewed focus to regional NSW and the low population findings.
“The government's history, if you look to the 2012 Plan, is entirely focused on Sydney, I didn’t see any real change from the emphasis of Sydney – country NSW plans are in the 10 to 20 years distance,” he said.
“Rail is more or less the forgotten cousin. I don’t think the government and Transport for NSW is doing their job properly. STRUG has been lobbying for years.”
He now looks more fervently to the joint submission discussed between the ACT and NSW government for faster rail, which includes electrification, and its timeline.
Smaller projects “in progress” include the the alignment of the Devils Elbow Corner on Grabben Gullen Road. The road is not open to B-doubles due to the corner alignment and steep decent and will see new pavement, additional drains, and more signage.
This includes a new crossing loop in Tarago as part of the Fixed Country Rail Pilot Program.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen in one go,” Ms Gee said in response to a question about improvements to future Goulburn services.
“It’s a lot about the level demand, as a state we have an amount of money that needs to go across a whole lot of infrastructure.”
Prior to the presentation, Transport for NSW spoke to Goulburn Mulwaree Council general manager Warwick Bennett and set up an information bus near Belmore Park across the day.
“Goulburn is a big winner as a result of our new draft strategy, Future Transport 2056,” a spokesperson for Transport for NSW said.
“Additionally, we will build a new regional NSW fleet to replace the ageing XPT, XPLORER and Endeavour series. Also up for longer term investigation is potential electrification of the line to Goulburn, while the line itself be upgraded to cater for projected increases in traffic.”
Transport for NSW will review projects as part of the strategy every year and present the final report next year.
Those wishing to submit recommendations to the Draft Future Transport Strategy can do so on their website.