Transport has a vital role to play in ensuring access to jobs, education, health care and other services as well as enabling the social well-being of regional communities.
Transport also has the opportunity to keep people safe, develop and enhance tourism experiences, drive economic growth and create vibrant regional spaces and communities. Future Transport 2056 provides a long-term strategic vision at the state-wide level for regional NSW by looking at and responding to changing demographic, customer and technology trends.
Globalisation is a mega-trend impacting all aspects of our lives and regional transport is no different. It is critical that we continue to invest in regional transport to provide people and businesses with the opportunity to participate in the global economy. The NSW Government is changing the game for businesses, industry and communities in regional NSW by backing visionary freight and port projects which will better connect regional NSW to global markets.
The commitment to building the Inland Rail through NSW provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reconfigure the regional freight network in NSW. We’re looking at opportunities along the route to provide more efficient and cost effective ways to move freight in and out of regional NSW.
As well as thinking big about major infrastructure, we’re also focussed on other key freight issues such as first and last mile which plays a critical role in the delivery of efficient and effective networks as well as creating regional investment and jobs. We’ve developed a supporting Freight and Ports Plan to detail our approach to these issues.
Past transport planning for regional NSW has focused on meeting the needs of long distance journeys to and from Sydney. Future Transport 2056 focuses on connecting our regional cities and centres to ensure regional communities play their role in the larger NSW, Australian and global context. For the first time, Future Transport introduces a stand-alone regional vision with a ‘hub and spoke’ planning model which recognises regional cities such as Bathurst, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Port Macquarie (among others) as central hubs for services, employment and social interaction. The Plan also recognises challenges faced by communities adjoining the ACT, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Our infrastructure and services have historically focused on major north-south transport connections in regional NSW. Looking forward we’ve made a commitment to improve east-west connectivity to open up areas west of the Great Dividing Range to the east and vice-versa. This will provide improved connectivity between the coastal population and the inland as well as critical freight linkages, including connections to Inland Rail and ports.
In relation rail service outcomes, we are replacing the entire Regional Rail Fleet and introducing a New Intercity Fleet (NIF). The new Regional Rail Fleet will lead to improved levels of passenger comfort and operational performance as well as providing regional jobs with a new maintenance facility at the preferred site in Dubbo (subject to planning approval). The NIF will provide services from Sydney to the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra. The first of the 500 new NIF carriages are to be delivered in 2019 and a maintenance facility is currently under construction at Kangy Angy on the Central Coast.
To maximise the operational capabilities of the NIF and new Regional Rail Fleet the regional rail network will be improved through Faster Rail investments in track straightening and signalling between the key Global Gateways (Newcastle, Canberra) and Satellite Cities (Wollongong, Gosford).
New Regional Rail Fleet
The entire regional train fleet will be replaced to deliver unprecedented levels of comfort and service for regional rail customers. This includes 60 XPT passenger cars (plus 19 diesel locomotives), 23 XPLORER and 28 Endeavour passenger cars for services between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and major NSW regional centres.
An Expression of Interest was issued in August 2017 for the design, construction and maintenance of the new trains and a new maintenance facility at the preferred site in Dubbo (subject to planning approval). In December 2017 a Request for Proposal was issued to three proponents, and is due to close June 2018. A detailed review of proposals will follow before the contract is awarded. The new trains will come into service progressively, with the first trains anticipated to be delivered in the early 2020s.
Just like a new car compared to an old car, a new train could provide lots of benefits. TfNSW is looking to the industry to help us find the best possible train for this service.
Dubbo has been identified as the preferred location for the brand new regional maintenance facility, subject to planning approval.
The key benefits from the introduction of the new Regional Rail Fleet are:
Future Transport continues to put the customer at the centre of our thinking. We aim to get people to the shops and catch up with family and friends as well as supporting the trip to work, school or university. To ensure that we maintain our customer focus in the future, we’ve approached this work from our customer’s perspective by thinking about the experience we want our customers to have in the future. Consequently we’ve developed ten customer outcomes for regional customers through which our vision of 2056 is expressed. The customer vision covers a range of aspects such as safety (a vision of zero deaths or serious injuries on the network by 2056) to innovation (a transport service that adapts to and embraces new technology).
We’re supporting the customer vision by identifying a range of service, infrastructure and policy initiatives which are outlined in this plan. For example, we’re going to roll out integrated ticketing across regional NSW so that locals and regional visitors have the same convenient experience as Sydney. Looking further ahead our vision is for a seamless customer experience across modes and borders by 2056; this will mean multiple tickets and different concession entitlements will be a thing of the past.
Regional NSW is benefiting from a once-in-a-generation investment in its transport infrastructure and services to enhance communities, boost regional growth, and support businesses and investors. Since 2012, the NSW Government has invested over $15b in transport infrastructure in regional NSW. This has been through critical programs such as Fixing Country Roads, Fixing Country Rail, Bridges for the Bush and the Walking and Cycling Program. We’re conscious that we need to continue the investment that’s already taking place by continuing to build and improve local infrastructure such as roads, rail and bridges. Future Transport identifies over 200 regional services, infrastructure and policy initiatives that are significant at the state-wide level to be delivered or investigated throughout the life of the plan.
The vision and supporting projects outlined in this Plan are ambitious but we believe they are achievable because we have a track record of delivering. The previous Long Term Transport Master Plan for NSW produced in 2012 identified over 700 projects across the state, of which 638 have either commenced or have already been delivered, with the remaining in planning.
Some of the most beneficial improvements we can make are based on innovative and incremental improvement to current infrastructure, assets and/or services. For example, we’ve committed to piloting flexible transport and driverless vehicles in regional NSW in 2018 to provide a better experience for regional customers. We are looking at opportunities to complement or replace time limited local public transport services and introduce services for smaller towns where no scheduled public transport exists.
As we developed Future Transport 2056 we visited more than 25 regional locations for detailed discussion, met face to face with over 1800 people, received over 500 formal written submissions and more than 2000 comments online. We’ve now acted on your feedback. For example, you asked us to investigate improved connectivity from inland NSW to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, as well to review how roads are classified in NSW; they’re in the plan.
NSW Road Classification Review
This review and subsequent implementation is committed for delivery in the 0-10 year timeframe seeks to address the large amount of feedback from councils about the classification of roads within their jurisdictions.
Currently, road funding and management arrangements between State and Local Government are based on a three tier hierarchy of State, Regional and Local Road classifications. The NSW Government, through Roads and Maritime Services, funds and manages State Roads and provides funding assistance to councils towards their management of Regional Roads. A review provides an opportunity to make adjustments to the classification process and ensure an up to date network that meets the social and economic needs of the community and industry. The last review took a number of years to complete and the three year implementation process concluded in mid-2012.
A number of submissions were received through Future Transport in relation to the classification of roads and associated availability of funding. The proposed review could consider classification of roads such as: Scone to Gloucester Road, Armidale to Kempsey Road, Brindabella Road (Tumut to ACT), and Clarence Way (Grafton).
We’ve also been working very closely with other NSW Government colleagues to deliver a transport vision for the regions which is consistent with the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s regional vision, the State Infrastructure Strategy and the Department of Planning and Environment’s Regional Plans. This was crucial to providing a plan which we believe reflects a whole-of-government approach to consider and plan for transport services and infrastructure which are important to you in the future.
Critically, Future Transport renews our commitment to working with the regions to plan and deliver a transport service which brings our collective vision to life. The next step is for us to work with local government, businesses and regional communities during 2018 and beyond to develop region-level and place-based transport plans which will detail transport infrastructure and services at the local regional city and regional centre level.
In summary, key initiatives for investigation in this Plan include:
- Road Classification Review
- Strategic investigation to increase access across the Great Dividing Range from inland NSW to Newcastle/Sydney/Wollongong
- Regional Rail Fleet project
- Bypasses of regional centres on New England Highway
- Faster rail connections between Newcastle and Sydney
- Lower Hunter Freight Corridor
- Improved connections between Wollongong and three cities of Greater Sydney
- Expanding 30 minute catchments for public transport
- Faster rail connections to Sydney and Newcastle
South East & Tablelands
- Seamless cross-border travel to the ACT
- Faster rail connections between Sydney and Canberra
- Completion of the duplication of Barton Highway
- Seamless cross-border travel to Queensland
- Improved east-west connections to New England North West
- Extension of Gold Coast light rail to Tweed Heads
Central West & Orana
- Rail and road connections to Inland Rail
- New Intermodal facilities associated with Inland Rail
- Upgrade of Sturt Highway and Kidman Way
- Seamless cross-border travel to Victoria
- Rail and road connections to Inland Rail
New England North West
- Connections to Inland Rail
- New Intermodal facilities associated with Inland Rail
- Upgrades of Newell, Oxley and Kamilaroi Highways
- Upgrade of Barrier Highway, sealing extensions to Wool Track
- Seamless cross-border travel to South Australia, Victoria and Queensland
Improving east-west crossings of the Great Dividing Range
As the population of regional NSW keeps moving towards the coast and primary industry continues to grow in the inland regions, safer and more efficient connections joining the two geographies are required for freight and passenger movements.
The recent investments in north-south highway connections (Pacific, Hume, Princes and Newell Highways) have created significant benefits for the state in terms of safety, travel time savings and productivity. A focus on east-west connectivity is now essential to create a truly connected transport network.