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Regional and outer metropolitan network

Future Transport Strategy

The regions of NSW

The nine distinct regions across NSW demonstrate that regional and outer metropolitan NSW is diverse and changing. The Transport vision for regional and outer metropolitan NSW is to improve local connections for our communities and customers within, to and from their region. A key pillar of this is to facilitate a ‘hub and spoke’ network across NSW, to enable local access for communities to central hubs that provide services, employment and social interaction. 

Infrastructure and services have historically focused on north-south transport connections in regional NSW. Future Transport seeks to improve east-west connectivity, capacity and safety between coastal and inland and remote populations, as well as freight linkages such as Inland Rail and inland ports. This will help cater for the forecast 12 per cent growth in the freight task between 2016 and 2036 – from 255 million to 286 million tonnes.

Other major initiatives across regional and outer metropolitan NSW seek to improve journeys for all customers. These include the Fast Rail Strategy, New Intercity Fleet and Regional Rail Fleet and Connecting 44 Communities. Within regional cities and centres, we are improving transport and delivering place outcomes by improving bus services in 16 regional cities, as well as delivering place plans that seek to implement the Movement and Place Framework.

Regional and outer metropolitan NSW is also home to four commercial ports: Newcastle, Port Kembla, Eden and Yamba. Of these, Newcastle and Port Kembla are responsible for the greatest trade volumes. Port Kembla is currently seen as the ‘second’ container port for NSW. However this will not occur until around 2045 when Port Botany reaches its maximum capacity of 7 million TEU (20 foot units) per annum.

An initiative of Future Transport is to deliver regional transport plans for each of the nine regions with the Draft Illawarra-Shoalhaven Regional Transport Plan currently available online.

A snapshot of each region in regional and outer metropolitan NSW, and key transport initiatives underway or identified for investigation, is provided below.



The Hunter includes the global gateway city of Newcastle, which supports a large population to the north and west. Local connections will be improved with faster rail connections between Newcastle and Sydney, road upgrades to facilitate safer and more efficient connections, and improved efficiency, reliability and capacity for passenger and freight customers. The planned protection of a Lower Hunter Freight Corridor will provide for a dedicated freight rail bypass of the Newcastle passenger rail system, which will free up space for more passenger services and improve freight efficiency. Investigations are underway and community engagement on alignment options is expected to occur in 2021.


The region of Illawarra-Shoalhaven is located approximately 70 minutes south of Sydney. The region will benefit from improved connections between the city of Wollongong and the three cities of Greater Sydney, as well as expanding the 30-minute catchment for public transport to facilitate local trips. Transport initiatives, such as a potential Fast Rail between Sydney and Nowra, will also enable more people to live and work within the region and support local growth with integrated walking, cycling and public transport networks to facilitate local trips

Central Coast

The Central Coast is identified as a satellite city due to its proximity to Sydney. Transport initiatives seek to build on its proximity to the global gateway cities of both Sydney and Newcastle by investigating fast rail connections between the three cities. Transport initiatives will also enable more people to live and work within the region and support local growth with integrated walking, cycling and public transport networks to facilitate local trips.

South East and Tablelands

The diverse coastal, hinterland and alpine landscapes of this region present transport challenges, due to the varying topography, natural environments, weather and climate, and pressures from tourism demand across the year. Transport planning and initiatives seek to address these challenges while enabling seamless cross-border travel to Australia’s capital the global gateway of Canberra, including investigating fast rail connections between Canberra and Sydney.

North Coast

The North Coast is strategically located between the global gateway cities of the Gold Coast and Newcastle. The strong relationship with South-East Queensland will be supported by improved cross-border travel. With strong existing north-south connections supported by the investigation of higher speed connections along the east coast, initiatives will also look at improving east-west connections to New England. 

Central West and Orana

The vision outlined by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is for the Central West and Orana to be ‘the most diverse regional economy in NSW.’ Located at the heart of NSW and the junction of important north-south and east-west connections, transport initiatives seek to leverage this strategic location through improving rail and road connections and intermodal facilities associated with Inland Rail.

Riverina Murray

The Riverina Murray region in southern NSW is known as ‘the food bowl of NSW’ and includes the regional cities of Albury, Griffith and Wagga Wagga. Transport initiatives focus on delivering seamless cross-border travel to Victoria, particularly for those living in the integrated city of Albury-Wodonga, as well as improving rail and road connections to Inland Rail.

New England North West

The New England North West region is strategically well placed on important regional road and rail routes, about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. Improving connections to Inland Rail and facilitating new intermodal facilities, as well as improving east-west connections across the Great Dividing Range, will open new opportunities for the region.

Far West

The large and remote region of the Far West covers 40 per cent of NSW, with a dispersed population. Communities rely on adjoining regions and cities to access businesses and services, including Dubbo in Central NSW, Mildura and Melbourne to the south, and Adelaide to the south-west. Transport initiatives focus on improving cross-regional and cross-border travel. Transport is committed to providing improved transport services for isolated and remote communities through initiatives such as On Demand transport solutions connecting people to the centres they want to visit and providing appropriately timed day return services.

Learn more about the Services and Infrastructure Plan for regional NSW.


In focus:

NSW TrainLink hub and spoke coach trials

NSW TrainLink has established a number of trial services in addition to its existing train and coach services across NSW. These trials aim to provide new connections for regional communities for commuting, attending medical or business appointments, shopping, recreational activities, and visiting family and friends. Each trial follows extensive community engagement, which helps understand community needs. Following the trial period, reviews are undertaken to determine if services should continue permanently.
Additionally, the NSW Government announced 13 new trial services connecting 44 rural and regional towns across the State. The trial services will provide day-return services from these isolated communities to nearby regional hubs. These trials build on the success of previous trials such as Tottenham to Dubbo and Tamworth to Dubbo.

In focus:

Newell Highway Corridor Strategy

The Newell Highway is the longest highway in NSW, running south to north through the State and providing an essential road connection for central western NSW. The Newell Highway Corridor Strategy sets out how the NSW Government will manage road transport along the Newell Highway (A39) in the long-term – from Tocumwal on the Victorian border to Goondiwindi on the Queensland border. 

The corridor strategy will be delivered over a 20-year timeframe, and will provide freight, road users and local communities with a safer, more reliable and accessible road. The strategy was released in 2015 and sets the direction for managing the Newell Highway into the future. Many of the initiatives within the Strategy have already been delivered or are underway, including intersection improvements, road shoulder widening and new overtaking lanes.

Read more about the Newell Highway Corridor strategy.

Six principles for Future Transport

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is focused on six key principles for the future of mobility in the state, which together aim to positively impact the economy, communities and environment of NSW.

Read more