University of Wollongong's Professor Buddhima Indraratna is optimistic about high-speed rail.
Although any future route probably wouldn't travel through Wollongong, an Australian high-speed rail network would be completed in the "long term", Prof Indraratna said.
Recently, UOW's faculty of engineering and information sciences received its biggest federal government Linkage Projects grant, of close to $1.2 million, to help create the world's best high-speed rail testing facility.
"I am very optimistic it will be a reality - the question is who is going to make the commitment and get it approved," Prof Indraratna said, speaking about the prospect of the government committing to building the network.
"It's a question of cost."
A federal government report in 2013 found that a high-speed rail network would be likely to bypass the Illawarra, heading through the Southern Highlands via Moss Vale instead.
NSW upper house independent candidate Trevor Anthoney, who plans to run his campaign with a focus on supporting high-speed rail, said he wanted to see Wollongong included in the route.
"What would be ideal and would work is a spur line [from Sydney] to Wollongong and back," he said.
"I just hope we can ... get Wollongong into the picture because it would serve a whole lot of people south of Sydney.
"Time will tell - it's not going to happen overnight.
"At least we can get people talking about it, because it's worthwhile."
In the meantime, Prof Indraratna will continue his research, just as he has for almost 15 years.
As part of his work, and as a result of the recent grant, a high-speed rail model will be built at UOW.
"It will be the first of its kind in the world and designed and built in-house," he said.
"It will revolutionise Australia's future in track modernisation apart from ambitious plans to export the technology to India and South-East Asia."