Freight’s not great for South Coast line, says NSW Minister

Freight’s not great for South Coast line, says NSW Minister

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Every rail commuter knows if you take freight off the South Coast line it would speed up passenger services. But this week may be the first time a government minister has admitted it. Labor lodged a question with Transport Minister Andrew Constance over the long-shelved Maldon-Dombarton project and whether removing freight from the rail line would benefit passenger services. READ MORE: Wollongong restaurant is at the right price – free The question was passed onto Regional Roads and Transport Minister Paul Toole, who answered “yes, it would”, before quickly changing tracks to tout the government’s New Intercity Fleet. “An additional 42 New Intercity Fleet carriages have been ordered which will enable us to operate 10-car trains in peak periods,” Mr Toole said. “The new carriages and improved services will provide a much needed extra 13,000 seats for South Coast customers across the busiest times of the week.” Yet, the New Intercity Fleet would still be operating on the same congested South Coast line – the extra services possibly even exacerbating the situation. Despite the admission of the benefits of removing freight from the line, Mr Toole repeated government policy that the Maldon-Dombarton line was more than a decade away. “Infrastructure Australia completed a review of the Maldon to Dombarton freight line in 2017 and found the project costs outweigh the economic benefits,” Mr Toole said. “As such, there is no plan to complete construction of the freight line at this time. Future Transport 2056 identifies completion of the line as a project for investigation in the 10 to 20-year horizon.” Wollongong MP Paul Scully criticised the response, claiming the government was overlooking an obvious solution to rail congestion. “Sadly the Berejiklian Government is as determined as it has ever been not to proceed with the Maldon-Dombarton line,” Mr Scully said. “Separation of freight and passenger trains on the South Coast line is now clearly the single biggest improvement that could be made to improve passenger rail services between Wollongong and Sydney. “I cannot think of a single person who has travelled on the South Coast line who doesn’t know that it needs improving.” Keira MP Ryan Park branded it as “irresponsible” to delay action on moving freight from the South Coast line. “The South Coast line is one of the busiest on the Sydney rail network and despite conceding that separating freight and passenger rail will allow for improvements, the Berejiklian government is satisfied that it is doing enough for local commuters by delivering new carriages a year late,” Mr Park said

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