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Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan


Future Transport 2056 comprises an overarching strategy and a suite supporting of plans. It is an update of NSW’s Long Term Transport Master Plan released in 2012. It has been developed in concert with the Greater Sydney Commission’s Sydney Region Plan, Infrastructure NSW’s State Infrastructure Strategy, and the Department of Planning and Environment’s Regional Plans, to provide an integrated vision for the state.


Future Transport Strategy 2056

The Future Transport 2056 Strategy is a vision for how transport can support growth and the economy of New South Wales over the next 40 years. It has six outcomes to guide investment, policy and reform and service provision. They provide a framework for network planning and investment aimed at harnessing rapid change and innovation to support a modern, innovative transport system that serves the community and economy well into the 21st century.

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan is the NSW Government’s blueprint for transport in regional NSW from now until 2056. It sets out the Government’s thinking on the big trends, issues, services and infrastructure needs which are now, or will soon shape transport in regional NSW.

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan outlines the vision and customer outcomes that the government will use to go about its detailed transport planning in each region and also support its future decision making. The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan is not intended to be a detailed transport plan for each region and there’s much more detailed strategy and planning to come at the regional level.

Our customers are at the centre of everything we do. That is why our transport plan for regional NSW is underpinned by the outcomes customers can expect – whether they be commuters, customers travelling to access goods, services or leisure or freight customers. The outcomes are designed to respond to what customers have told us is important to them and underpin our plan for policy, service and infrastructure improvements.


A Plan that puts the customer at the centre

The customer is at the centre of everything we do. That is why input from our customers, the community and industry is fundamental to Future Transport 2056, including the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan.

The suite of Future Transport 2056 documents was developed using a process called co-design, meaning early involvement and ongoing collaboration with all stakeholders – customers, our people, wider government, industry and the community – in the design process so the end result best meets their needs. A multi-channel, three-phase engagement campaign means we have engaged closely with customers and the community over a period of more than a year.

Phase 1 commenced in November 2016 with the announcement that the NSW Government were developing a 40-year transport strategy. The website was launched introducing Future Transport 2056, displaying information on the intended priorities in developing the plans and obtaining feedback via the website and digital channels. Communications and engagement also facilitated early collaboration with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Planning and Environment, Infrastructure NSW (INSW) and other NSW Government departments and agencies.


Phase 2 during May to June in 2017 aimed to raise awareness of the transport challenges that Future Transport will seek to address and to gain feedback on new approaches to integrated land use and transport planning. Communications channels included digital, social media and face to face sessions. During this time, 34 engagements were held in 16 locations across NSW. These included community forums and industry roundtables. Engagement outcomes included:

  • 43,000+ people engaged digitally and face to face
  • 5,315 online surveys completed
  • 35,299 comments, likes, and shares on Facebook
  • 40,263 views of animations and videos
  • 730,053 people reached through Facebook advertisements
  • 85,844 occasions where people engaged with the material via Facebook

Feedback from stakeholders from Phase 2 activities informed the development and design of the draft Future Transport 2056 strategy and plans.

Phase 3 during October to December 2017 launched the draft Future Transport 2056 strategy and plans and included a significant consultation campaign to seek feedback on these. A community roadshow was held in 34 communities across NSW, over 68 briefings and Q&A sessions with industry and local government were undertaken and online submissions were sought.

Customer insights are critical to transport planning and have been included throughout the development of the Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan. Between November 2016 and December 2017, customers were invited to provide input and feedback on the draft plan. We received submissions from local councils, industry bodies, community groups, other government agencies, and members of the public. Overall, our engagement campaign for the draft plan resulted in over 500 formal feedback submissions being received, over 2000 comments on the Future Transport website and we engaged face to face with over 3,300 people.

Since receiving feedback on the draft Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan between October and December 2017, we have reviewed all comments and submissions, summarised key comments, consulted across the NSW Government, and where feasible, refined our plans so the final Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan truly reflects what our customers want. For example, we have heard that more needs to be done to explain the benefits of our proposed initiatives, so a comprehensive list of initiatives and their proposed benefits is now included.

The Future Transport Supporting Plans

Supporting Plans are more detailed issues-based or place-based planning documents that will support the implementation of Future Transport 2056. The supporting plans are:

  • Road Safety Plan 2021 – final released February 2018
  • Tourism and Transport Plan – draft released October 2017
  • Freight and Ports Plan – draft released December 2017
  • Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan – draft released November 2017
  • Other issue based and location specific plans – yet to be completed


The Road Safety Plan 2021 is aimed at reducing death and serious injury in regional NSW

Regional NSW is over-represented in transport fatalities. The Plan aligns the Towards Zero vision with Future Transport 2056, which aims to have a NSW transport network with zero trauma by 2056. To realise this vision we have developed the detailed Road Safety Plan 2021 as a supporting plan to Future Transport 2056.

The Road Safety Plan 2021 features targeted and proven initiatives that will help us progress towards our transport safety goals, addressing key trends, trauma risks and the types of crashes occurring on NSW regional roads. Key initiatives include:

  • Deliver a new Saving Lives on Country Roads program to address the challenge of more than two thirds of fatalities occurring on country roads, including:
    • An initial additional $125 million for safety infrastructure upgrades targeting high risk curves and key routes, including local roads
    • Delivery of the first, targeted NSW country roads public education campaign
    • Partnering with local councils, community groups and industry to support grassroots Towards Zero initiatives.
    • Develop a new NSW Police enforcement strategy for regional NSW to target high risk behaviour.
  • Tackle drink and drug driving behaviour by strengthening penalties and enhancing enforcement, including:
    • Increased penalties for driving under the influence
    • Swift, strong and certain penalties for lower range drink driving and drug presence first offenders
    • Alcohol interlocks for mid-range offenders
    • Doubling mobile drug testing to 200,000 tests by 2020 and adding cocaine testing to the regime.
  • Implement legislative changes to allow camera based technology to enforce mobile phone use offences and further analyse the role of distraction in the road toll.
  • Increase safety for pedestrians through providing pedestrian crossings, refuges and traffic calming devices as well as expand 40km/h zones in high pedestrian and local areas.
  • Work with the heavy vehicle industry to develop a heavy vehicle strategy to improve operational safety and increase the uptake of safety technology.
  • Enhance the NSW Government vehicle fleet policy with lifesaving technologies, including autonomous emergency braking and other driver assist technologies.
  • We will continue to deliver:
    • The Safer Roads Program
    • Road safety education campaigns
    • NSW Police Enhanced Enforcement Program
    • Local Government Road Safety Program
    • Implementation of the Speed Camera Strategy
    • Promotion of safer cars as a member of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program
    • High quality enhanced fatal and serious injury crash data and analysis as well as implement a robust research program
    • Road safety education in schools as part of the mandatory curriculum based roads safety education program
    • Continued development of the young drivers Graduated Licensing Scheme.

The plan was released on 6 February 2018.

The plan should be read as a detailed supplementary plan and can be accessed here.


A Freight and Ports Plan to improve the movement of produce and products

Freight, logistics and distribution services are the backbone of regional NSW, connecting businesses to markets in Australia and across the world. In 2014-15, the regional NSW freight, logistics and distribution sector contributed an estimated $21.8 billion to the state economy. A thriving population and growing industry presence in regional NSW is creating significant demand for investment in the sector. High volumes of commodities, manufactured goods, agriculture and wholesale items are currently moved around NSW.

As Australia’s most populous state and the central jurisdiction along the eastern seaboard, volumes are expected to grow significantly in coming years. The growing freight task will see more heavy vehicles mixing with other vehicles and transport users on the road which increases risk for our customers. Improvements to both safety and efficiency of freight movement are therefore key considerations throughout Future Transport.

In recognition of the critical role that freight and logistics plays in regional NSW, a supporting Freight and Ports Plan has been developed as part of Future Transport 2056. In summary the plan proposes:

  • Continuation of investment in road and rail infrastructure in partnership with local government to provide greater access for freight on the networks, improve connectivity and accessibility for high productivity vehicles and efficient rail wagon loading
  • Creating intelligent transport networks, managed with data, that enable increasingly efficient, flexible and dynamic service delivery with improved safety, access, reliability and responsiveness that prioritises vehicles depending on productivity, type of use and time of day
  • Pursuing national standards for the road infrastructure, systems and regulatory frameworks needed to adopt greater levels of vehicle automation earlier, and identify how best to deliver the benefits that autonomous vehicles can bring
  • Reforming road, rail and maritime regulations to harmonise cross border regulatory regimes that will drive economic efficiencies and reduce the regulatory burden on industry
  • Pursuing harmonisation within NSW, to encourage regional shire councils to allow access for higher productivity vehicles through planning and investing in a network that caters for these vehicles
  • Exploring the implementation of initiatives to facilitate freight access to key urban centres including efficient ways of moving freight through the five road types of the movement and place framework
  • Promoting alternative last mile modes that are safe, sustainable and efficient within urban centres as well as to the farm gate
  • Pursuing opportunities to provide dedicated rail networks for passengers and freight, to reduce sharing of busy rail corridors which reduces the ability to deliver increased off-peak passenger frequencies or increased freight capacity to support long-term needs, especially near trade gateways
  • Investigating key arterial road and country rail branch lines to establish ways to better connect important regional centres
  • Exploring the implementation of dedicated freight lanes on key freight corridors on the strategic road network, outside of peak periods, to help to improve safety, and support efficient, reliable freight movements.

The plan is due to be finalised in mid-2018 following engagement with key stakeholders.

The plan should be read as a detailed supplementary plan.


A Tourism and Transport Plan to support visitors to regional NSW

Regional NSW tourism has grown steadily in the last decade as visitors are drawn to the region’s diverse natural beauty, country hospitality and excellent food and wine.

Regional NSW tourism expenditure was $15.4 billion in the last twelve months to June 2017. The number of visitors to regional NSW grew by 19% from June 2010 to June 2017 or 2.9% per year in compound annual growth terms. Regional NSW welcomed 813,000 international visitors in the year to June 2017 for a total of 14.8 million nights and $1.1 billion of expenditure.

More people visit NSW than any other state or territory in Australia. Visitors are increasingly seeking opportunities to experience NSW’s unique Aboriginal culture and history, while regional NSW hosts over 850 major sports events. No other Australian state offers outback, country, alpine, coastal, and subtropical regions all within its borders. Cruise ship visits are growing, supported by related investment in the ports of Newcastle and Eden, leading to higher revenue and increased passenger and crew days.

Transport has the potential to support and enhance existing tourism as well as create new economic development through activating new opportunities and places. In recognition of the critical interconnect between transport and tourism in regional NSW, a supporting tourism plan has been developed as part of Future Transport 2056. In summary the plan proposes:

  • To continue to implement new ticketing products, improving options for visitors and encouraging them to travel by public transport across NSW - including the NSW TrainLink Discovery Pass, Opal ticketing and a Contactless Payment trial
  • Ongoing implementation of wayfinding improvements, including public transport and roadside signposting across NSW and visitor information and regional promotion
  • Continuation of upgrades to transport infrastructure enabling greater destination options across NSW, including along the Pacific Highway corridor, which has contributed to significant growth in national park visits
  • Improvement of connections to key gateways including cruise terminals and airports including investigation of integrating regional air services with the state’s regional passenger transport network
  • Upgrades to regional airports
  • Increased connections from regional cities and centres to interstate destinations as well as Sydney
  • Introduction of new train, bus and ferry services in Sydney to serve growing numbers of visitors and to key regional destinations including the Blue Mountains
  • Improvement in out of peak services and on weekends to popular tourist destinations
  • Providing services to events and festivals, as well as during peak holiday times.

The plan is due to be finalised in mid-2018.


Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan

This is an evidence based plan that has identified key initiatives for investigation within the Global Gateway of Greater Newcastle, comprising the five local government areas of Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle and Port Stephens. It explores:

  • Development of an integrated public transport network hierarchy, including:
    • A single operator taking multi-modal responsibility across Greater Newcastle covering bus, light rail and ferry services
    • Improved integration and interchange between modes/services to enable seamless customer experience
    • Expanding 30 minute catchments for public transport
    • Improved time of day coverage and service frequency, reduced journey times, and the deployment of on-demand, flexible services
    • Rail corridor infrastructure investment programs allowing the New Intercity Fleet to operate to its operational capacity with significant travel time savings
    • Station upgrades and integration between the stations and surrounding land uses are needed to support increased public transport travel, with opportunities for park and ride at key stations to reduce private vehicle travel for long distances
    • Facilitating car sharing services that are integrated with public transport.
  • Development of active transport networks
  • Extending the light rail in Newcastle to facilitate urban development opportunities in inner Newcastle
  • Addressing pinch points in the road network and informing the program of road network optimisation improvements to support the maintenance of 30 minute catchments for car journeys
  • Undertaking a car parking review to evaluate and prioritise car parking availability and use within centres and at key interchanges
  • Introducing travel demand management policies and transport optimisation programs to re-balance demand against service and infrastructure provision
  • Protection of freight through movements and reinforcing key links to Newcastle Port and Airport
  • Reducing the volume of freight trains travelling through urban areas.

The Greater Newcastle Future Transport Plan is currently being finalised.


Regional NSW is vitally important, fundamentally different, diverse and changing

The aspiration for regional NSW is to maximise the potential for regional areas, recognising the economic and social diversity between regions in their natural assets, strong communities, local skills and expertise and globally competitive industries.


The regional population is growing

Regional NSW is home to close to 3.1 million people which is 40% of the state’s population. By 2056 it will be 3.83 million. Currently population density is highest along the coastal areas of NSW and by 2056 a trend towards higher population density in regional cities, centres and along the coast will continue.

Regional NSW is forecast to grow by 438,000 people by 2036 and then a further 329,000 by 2056. Over this 40 year timeframe Greater Sydney is forecast to grow by 3 million people. Many regional communities have told us they want to capture some of this growth through a cross-government vision for regional NSW.

Regional growth will be predominantly be in the Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra regions which are forecast to grow by 505,000 people by 2056. The Hunter region will continue to be regional NSW’s largest and is expected to have almost twice the population of the next largest regions – Illawarra and Central Coast. The rest of regional NSW is forecast to grow by around 262,000 people by 2056.

Strong growth is also expected in the coastal regions north and south of these areas, with their regional cities and centres growing. For inland regions, regional cities and centres will see growth, while their surrounding towns will see flat or declining population. The population in regional NSW will also be ageing, creating additional challenges particularly in more remote communities.







Greater Sydney




Regional NSW

Outer Metropolitan












Central Coast




Regional NSW Remainder




Total (NSW)




Figure 7: Population projections (Source: Department of Planning and Environment, Transport Performance & Analytics TfNSW

As NSW continues to grow, all regional cities will play larger roles in service provision for their population catchments. Some regional cities will have stronger links to capital and regional cities in other states. While other regional cities will evolve to develop greater global connections with the Asia/Pacific Region through their nationally significant infrastructure.


The transport network across regional NSW is large and complex

The NSW road network is around 184,859 km in length. Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is responsible for the management of 18,028 km of the major arterial road network in NSW, known as State Roads. RMS also provides funding assistance to councils for managing their regional roads (18,257 km) and, to a limited extent, local roads through funding and other support.

NSW TrainLink train and coach networks reach as far as Broken Hill and Bourke in the West, Eden and Melbourne in the South, and Brisbane in the North. Intercity train services operate between Sydney and the Hunter, Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Illawarra and South Coast.

Freight is moved on the road and rail networks and also in and out of air and maritime ports. Regional NSW has 27 airports and major ports are located in Newcastle and Port Kembla with a number of smaller ports all along the coast.

By 2056, traffic volumes in the Hunter section of the Pacific Highway can be expected to be over 25,000 vehicles. Similar volumes of magnitude are estimated for the Hume Highway south of Sydney.

Most people in regional NSW drive to work

Journey to work data across the state shows that people generally travel towards their local regional city or centre for work. It is also clear that there are strong interstate movements between NSW and QLD; NSW and Victoria; and also NSW and ACT.

Most travel in regional NSW is by private vehicle, including 91% of all trips to work, while public transport mode share is 3%. Travelling by car is often more flexible and quicker than other modes of transport in regional NSW. Consequently the regional transport strategy in NSW is weighted toward supporting road transport and providing other transport options which are useful and fit for purpose.

Figure 10: Mode share to work (Source: Journey to Work 2016)

Across regional NSW 6% of people walk or cycle to work, however the percentage is much higher in many regional centres, reflecting that 66% of people in regional NSW live within two kilometres of their nearest urban centre or locality. Walking and cycling are attractive transport options and future investment could increase the use of active transport as a mode of transport and for recreational use, as well as providing significant health benefits to individuals and the wider community. Active transport also provides more choice for those people without a licence or access to a vehicle, particularly in areas with limited public transport.


Geography is a major factor in planning regional transport

Regional NSW comprises four different geographies; remote, inland, coastal and outer metropolitan which influences the way transport is provided and networks are structured. The reality is people in regional NSW have to drive much more than people in Sydney. These realities mean that the NSW Government must have a different investment mix in the regions than it does in Greater Sydney. For example, the mix of transport investment to get people to work in regional NSW is much more heavily weighted to roads as opposed to public transport (trains and buses).

Regional NSW covers 797,076 km² of land representing 98.5% of NSW which means that our regional customers are dispersed. In comparison, Sydney only covers 12,368 km². This dispersal of customers across a vast area means that the NSW Government must take a different approach to planning transport for regional NSW than it does for the largest city and region of Greater Sydney. Our regional investments and service delivery models have to be clever and strategic to get the best value for money and positive impact for communities.


Transport has a vital role to play in social well-being and inclusion

Transport has a vital role to play in ensuring access to jobs, education, health care and other services and in enabling the social well-being of regional communities. Our customers come from different socio-economic backgrounds and the availability of, and safe access to, transport has implications for levels of disadvantage experienced by our customers.

Half of the state of NSW is considered remote. People who live in areas that are remote often have to travel relatively longer distances to access services and infrastructure. It is important to recognise that remoteness has an impact on the mode, frequency and feasibility of transport services however it is critical to ensure that a level of transport amenity is provided to reduce social isolation.

Innovation will be the key to supporting diverse regional industry and communities

We need to make sure we’re trialling new technology in the regions. With improvements in engineering and technology, the traditional barriers such as the Great Dividing Range and the remoteness of the Far West can be reduced. Emerging technology such as driverless vehicles and drones, provide the promise of cheaper and more convenient movement of people as well as efficient movement of freight.


We’re not waiting for the future: Regional On Demand Public Transport!

We want to improve public transport for customers in regional NSW. We want to identify and implement new and creative customer focussed services to ensure people can utilise public transport to travel to their desired destination quickly, safely, easily and at a time that suits them.

Transport for NSW sought innovative ideas from the market through expressions of interest to run a number of pilots aimed at identifying different solutions to achieve our goals.  

The pilots are not restricted to bus services and may include any form of public transport that provides potential to improve customer services.

We will have pilots running in 2018. More information is available here.

Regional NSW contributes 30% of the NSW state economy[1] and 33% of goods manufactured in NSW. Approximately 39% of the value of NSW’s exports are derived from agricultural, fisheries and other natural resources, primarily sourced from regional NSW[2]. In 2014-15, the mining and resources sector in regional NSW contributed $8.8 billion to the state economy. Coal, iron, steel, aluminium, gold, lead and copper are major exports and export demand remains high from Asia with excellent future export potential.

[1] Regional Prospectus

It is vital that air, road, rail and port access adapts to the changing demands of regional businesses and its population. Transport for NSW works closely with the Regional NSW Group within Department of Premier and Cabinet, and it’s Centre for Economic and Regional Development (CERD) to understand the connectivity needs of key industry sectors in regional NSW now and into the future. Research and modelling conducted by CERD shows that economic activities in regional NSW are becoming increasingly aligned with regional endowments and this in turn has resulted in greater specialisation, with regions producing fewer types of goods and services for export outside of their region while employing a larger proportion of the local workforce. This supports a region-specific approach to transport planning and investment in infrastructure which supports a local specialisation.

Currently, the key industry sectors that will drive growth in regional economies are Agriculture, Manufacturing, Tourism, Mining and Population Services. As well as being a key industry in its own right, the Transport, Logistics and Communications industry is also a crucial enabling industries for other key sectors as well as linking manufacturing and distribution in capital cities.

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.

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