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Our Vision for 2056

Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan

Our Vision for 2056 

The Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan sets a 40 year vision for transport in regional New South Wales to support liveable communities and productive economies. Our aspiration for regional NSW is to maximise its potential recognising the diversity between regions in their natural assets, individual communities, local skills and globally competitive industries.


A truly collective and shared vision for transport in regional NSW

Our vision for regional NSW is a safe, efficient and reliable network of transport services and infrastructure that recognises and reinforces the vital role of regional cities such as Dubbo, Armidale, Lismore and Albury as hubs for services, employment and social interaction for their surrounding communities.

Achieving this vision will require an integrated whole-of-government approach, working in partnership with local communities and stakeholders to deliver integrated transport networks and places that best meet the needs of our wide range of customers.

During late October to early December 2017 the Future Transport team visited more than 25 cities, centres and towns across regional NSW for briefings and Q&A sessions with community, industry and local government and spoke to over 1100 people from regional communities in face to face conversations. In addition we received over 500 long-form submissions from organisations and more than 2000 on line comments.

Infrastructure NSW has recently released a State Infrastructure Strategy and the Department of Premier and Cabinet is developing an over-arching economic vision for regional NSW. Future Transport is aligned with and supports these other state-wide visions and strategies.


Introducing a new ‘Hub and Spoke’ transport network model for regional NSW

The most effective way of providing better transport to more potential customers in regional NSW is through the development of a ‘hub and spoke’ network model radiating out from regional cities rather than a network just focused on Sydney. This will capitalise on the role that regional cities and centres play as hubs for employment as demonstrated through Journey to Work data from the Census, and for services such as retail, health, education and cultural activities for their surrounding catchment areas. It also acknowledges the importance of national and state significant transport links (or spokes) that pass through regions.

Previous regional planning has focussed on the connections of regional cities within a region or to Sydney. Whilst these will remain important, safe and efficient links to regional cities in adjacent regions is considered just as important as different products and services or service levels may be offered in other regional cities.

This integrated network will be comprised of a range of modes, reflecting the level of demand and distance. By developing the radial network around centres and key corridors, it can respond to the three dominant types of regional journeys; within centres, between centres and between regions.

Functional Economic Regions – recognising the role regional cities and centres

The NSW Government Centre for Economic and Regional Development (CERD) has developed Functional Economic Regions (FER) based on the economic modelling of data about where people travel to work in order to develop Regional Economic Development Strategies. Each FER usually includes more than one local government area, as their boundaries do not always reflect the boundaries of regional economies and economic interaction. The integrated hub and spoke transport networks in Future Transport support the FERs and subsequent Regional Economic Development Strategies.


A customer journey with no boundaries

Some areas of regional NSW are heavily influenced by or relate to other states and capital cities due their proximity such as the Tweed, Queanbeyan, Albury and other communities along the Murray River, and Broken Hill. By 2056 it is the intention of the NSW Government that transport customers will be able to travel throughout NSW and into neighbouring jurisdictions with borders appearing invisible.


We’re already improving cross-border transport

The Office of the NSW Cross-Border Commissioner advocates for the resolution of cross-border issues which impact on communities, businesses organisations and individuals as a result of them living, working or operating in multiple jurisdictions.

The NSW Cross-Border Commissioner has recently negotiated two significant agreements: the ACT-NSW MoU for Regional Collaboration, signed on 9 December 2016, and the Qld-NSW Statement of Principles and Priorities for Cross-Border Collaboration, signed on 27 January 2017. Robust governance arrangements associated with these agreements require the Commissioner to lead work to develop annually revised worklists and priority actions, and in reporting progress to stakeholders through an annual reporting cycle.

The worklists for 2017-18 have recently been agreed and released and contain a range of transport initiatives:



Movement and place: great regional places supported by transport

The NSW Government has a vision of diverse and dynamic regional communities where economic growth is supported, economic potential is fostered, and locals have access to quality services. Central to these outcomes is a modern, flexible transport network that works for businesses and people, connecting regional centres, global gateways and local communities.

The way in which transport is envisaged, planned and delivered has a significant impact on regional communities and places. Traditionally transport has often been based on efficient movement without equally considering the transformative (both positive and negative) impacts on land use and communities and opportunities of transport corridors, modes and customer purpose.

‘Movement and place’ is all about creating regional places and experiences which locals and visitors will seek out. The movement and place framework acknowledges that both customer and community needs are different and the street environment needs to provide different functions – moving people and goods while also being destinations for people. The framework will enable us to plan, design and operate the road network to meet these different needs.

Adopting the movement and place framework and principles in regional cities, centres and towns has the potential to transform the way those communities operate. Movement and place will support the hub and spoke model by forging stronger connections from surrounding catchments to regional cities and centres and between them, rather than focussing connections on Sydney or other interstate capitals.



Planning for Places


A tiered approach to planning transport for the regions

Future Transport has adopted the nine regions used by the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) Regional Plans.

DPE has identified around 20 regional cities and over 30 regional centres in their recently released Regional Plans.

As NSW continues to grow, all regional cities will play larger roles in service provision for their population catchments. Each of the nine regions supports one or two regional cities and a similar number of regional centres and many towns and villages. In 2056, the major regional cities in NSW will be Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong and Tweed Heads. The key regional city transport hubs will include Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Armidale, Tamworth, Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Nowra. Regional centres such as Broken Hill, Maitland, Shellharbour and Queanbeyan will continue to play an important role servicing local communities with links to regional cities.

The Future Transport Plans also recognise that areas of the north, south and far west of the state are intrinsically linked to cities in other jurisdictions; the National Capital of Canberra and the Gold Coast that adjoin NSW, as well as more distant cities of Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. NSW has four Global Gateway cities which provide the state-level services and facilities required to support the growing population in NSW; Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra and Gold Coast.

Connecting regions to their Global Gateway city will be of paramount importance to ensure high quality access to major services and facilities such as Level 1 hospitals, major education institutions, and international travel and trade gateways.

The growth of Greater Sydney will directly influence the growth of surrounding regional cities resulting in the regional cities of Gosford and Wollongong becoming Satellite cities and a part of the Greater Sydney conurbation by 2056. The existing cities will evolve to strengthen critical linkages to jobs and services within Greater Sydney, due to their proximity and improved road and rail connections.

With its port and airport, Wollongong is considered to have future potential as an emerging Global Gateway. However there are constraints to its future growth due to the area’s topography and proximity to Sydney, while over 80% of workers are employed locally.

Movement Corridors

Regional NSW has a number of nationally significant transport corridors (road and rail) which pass through the state and connect capital cities and major trade gateways including ports and airports.

Significant investment has been made over the past 20 years to improve the north-south highway connections, in particular, the Hume, Pacific and Newell Highways. These road corridors will continue to play an important role in the movement of passengers and goods and will evolve to become Smart roads of the future.

Recent announcements by the Federal Government means that the Inland Rail project will become a reality and provide opportunities to establish intermodal hubs along its alignment through inland NSW and connections from Parkes to the east. The NSW Government is identifying ways in which it can leverage regional NSW’s central location in this once-in-a-generation project.

North-south freight movements facilitated by Inland Rail and the Newell Highway will provide opportunities for improved movements of freight to ports and also provide relief for the coastal road and rail networks which will continue to experience growth in flows dominated by passenger movements.

Opening up inland regional NSW through improved 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.

On the North Coast, the Bruxner, Gwydir, Waterfall Way and Oxley Highways are the key routes connecting regional cities and centres in the New England and North West region.

Linking the Hunter Expressway with the Golden Highway and New England Highways will support the resource rich regions of the Hunter, Central West and Orana and New England and North West. Upgrading of these connections also supports and reinforces the global gateway status of Greater Newcastle through access to its port and airport. The development of the Golden Highway will provide an alternative route from Central West and Orana around Greater Sydney.

The Blue Mountains will continue to challenge transport access to Greater Sydney from the Central West and Orana due to its expanse, world heritage status and restrictions on High Productivity Vehicles. There are committed investments by government to upgrading the Great Western Highway as the main road freight corridor over the Mountains as well as the Main Western Line. Investigation of improvements to the Bells Line of Road will continue to deliver benefits for local communities and the Central West and Orana.

The Illawarra escarpment is one of NSW’s most dramatic topographic features which will require significant investment to improve the connections from Wollongong to Sydney and the South East and Tablelands and maximise access to Port Kembla.

The growth of the global gateway city of Canberra and nearby Queanbeyan will continue to drive demand for movement between the city and the coast via the Kings Highway for both access to services and to support the visitor economy.

The Snowy Mountains Highway will also play a role in maximising the investment for the visitor economy in places such as Eden (new cruise facilities development) and Cooma (Alpine region).


Future Movement Corridors

The Future Transport network needs to address:

  • Changing land use across NSW
  • The needs of the freight and tourism sectors
  • Movement and Place principles
  • The new Hub and Spoke network
  • Connections across the Great Dividing Range.

This Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan encapsulates these identified network needs to propose a future transport network for NSW.

The future of public transport in regional NSW

Regional public transport will be planned within a strategic framework of servicing principles which allow for local adaptation and interpretation.

The regional passenger transport servicing principles provide the strategic framework underpinning the passenger transport services provided in rural and regional areas.

The principles will inform ongoing improvements to services to meet the changing travel needs of customers in regional and rural areas.

Transport service levels

Our aim is to create a simple transport network in regional NSW with a clear hierarchy of services which is tailored to local communities. This will enable us to make better places and provide a level of service that provides flexibility for future service improvements based on changing customer demands.




Identified locations

Future service levels

Global Gateway

Newcastle, Canberra, Gold Coast

Provide at a minimum international, interstate, inter-regional, intra-regional and in-town services in conjunction with ACT and Queensland governments

Satellite Cities

Gosford and Wollongong

Provide 30 minute city access within cities, with 60 minute access to Sydney

Regional City transport hubs

Tweed Heads, Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Armidale, Tamworth, Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Albury and Nowra

Provide at a minimum inter-regional, intra-regional and in-town services

Regional Centre transport hubs

Such as Broken Hill, Shellharbour and Queanbeyan

Provide at a minimum intra-regional services



Providing more transport choices for regional communities


Our vision for regional NSW is a future with greater choice for regional travellers. This will be achieved through initiatives such as:

  • Hub and spoke model connecting to centres and regional cities
  • Integrated timetables enabling better connections and day return services
  • Increased frequencies and operating hours
  • Flexible / demand-responsive public transport offering a mix of services
  • Accessible services for mobility impaired and disadvantaged customers
  • Real-time information making public transport more user friendly and accessible
  • Mobility as a Service
  • Improved walking and cycling infrastructure within towns to accommodate shorter trips

Future Transport will aim to capitalise on the opportunity to increase the use of public transport and walking and cycling in regional NSW for all trips, improving levels of social inclusion and bringing flow on health benefits. At present we only have Journey to Work data to measure the use of these modes, but we are investigating opportunities to source information on the use of all modes for all trip purposes through initiatives such as sourcing data from telecommunication providers and the roll-out a next generation ticketing system.

Our aspiration for regional NSW as a whole over the next 10 years is to increase public and active transport use across regional NSW.

The greater density of residential and employment land uses within NSW’s Global Gateways and Satellite cities (i.e. Newcastle, Wollongong and Central Coast) presents a greater opportunity to increase sustainable mode shares compared to other regional areas. The availability of robust evidence on travel patterns (via Household Travel Survey data) also enables monitoring of performance throughout the day in these areas.


Trials of day-return public transport options between regional hubs

Starting in 2018, NSW TrainLink proposes to trial new coach connections to better connect regional communities. The proposed services would provide new links:

  • Tamworth to Newcastle coach & rail day return

  • Tamworth to Dubbo coach day return

  • Tamworth to Port Macquarie day return

Currently there are no direct services between Tamworth and Dubbo and Tamworth and Port Macquarie. The current rail/coach services from Tamworth to Newcastle do not provide a day return option.

Each trial aims to provide easy connections between regional hubs for better access to medical and health providers, business, shopping, recreational activities or to catch up with family and friends.

NSW TrainLink is also planning trials to commence later in 2018 between Wagga Wagga and Albury, Goulburn and Sydney and between Goulburn and Canberra.



The delivery of regional air transport services is a complex collaboration

Regional airports in New South Wales are largely owned and managed by local government and aviation services are mostly delivered by private commercial operators. Aviation safety, security, price and access are regulated by the Australian Government via the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (Cth) and the Air Services Act 1995 (Cth). The NSW Government has a regulatory and licensing role under the Air Transport Act 1964.

As well as the specific air transport legislated functions, the NSW Government has an ongoing role to work collaboratively with the owners, regulators and operators to ensure a level of transport and essential service amenity is delivered in regional communities and that economic growth and potential in regional NSW are supported consistent with our vision for the State.

Aviation will continue to be an essential transport mode for regional NSW in the future. Our vision is for regional air passenger services to be part of an integrated and seamless journey for people living in and also visiting regional NSW. Our immediate focus will be the development of the hub and spoke model for all regional transport modes through Regional Transport Plans. We’re committed to connecting public transport services with regional airports and considering timetabling, marketing and ticketing as a holistic product in the next ten years.


We’re investing in the future of regional aviation now!

Regional air services play an essential foundation role in the economic development of regional cities, centres and towns. In recognition, the NSW Government has committed $70 million to a regional airports upgrade program through 27 projects at 22 regional airports that will boost regional airport capacity and safety and increase their ability to attract visitors to regional NSW.

The projects include passenger terminal upgrades, improved lighting to support airport expansion, and expanding runways or aircraft parking to accommodate larger planes.

More than $9 million worth of projects have already been delivered including an extended runway apron area and upgrade of terminal facilities in Coffs Harbour which was completed in December 2017. While Ballina airport is undergoing an expansion through Restart NSW funding in recognition of its growing importance as an entry point to the North Coast region, with passenger numbers at over 510,000 per annum. The remaining projects are in various stages of design and construction with final completion of all projects currently forecast by 2019.

The NSW Government will continue to consider investment proposals in multi-use regional aviation infrastructure on a case by case basis through the $1.3b Regional Growth Funds announced in the 2017/18 budget. All proposals are required to be consistent with recently developed Regional Economic Development Strategies and assessed on merit against clear criteria to demonstrate benefit for regional NSW.

Existing Global Gateway airports at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith (KSA), Canberra, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne currently provide national and international connectivity for regional NSW. The addition of the new Western Sydney Airport (WSA) at Badgerys Creek in 2026 to the NSW air network will provide an alternative to KSA in Greater Sydney for regional passengers and freight and will provide some relief for capacity and access issues in the Sydney basin. The NSW Government will continue to advocate for arrangements which are beneficial for regional air services during the development of WSA.


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