The South Coast line has been shunted by the federal government in favour of faster trains between Sydney and Newcastle.
This is despite the government’s funding prospectus highlighting the problems on the South Coast line.
The government’s $20 million Faster Rail project offered funding to investigate improvements to rail lines connecting regional areas and the cities.
Transport for NSW put forward proposals to improve three separate rail links: Sydney-Wollongong, Sydney-Newcastle and Sydney-Canberra.
Newcastle’s was the only NSW project chosen to get funding to develop a business case.
“The Commonwealth found the Sydney to Newcastle line as best fitting the funding criteria under its Faster Rail Prospectus process,” a TfNSW spokesman said.
The spokesman declined to provide details of the South Coast submission but said TfNSW would continue to investigate improvements to the line.
“All three projects nominated are important and worthy projects and TfNSW will continue to look at options to upgrade and improve these services,” the spokesman said.
The Newcastle-Sydney link was one only three to receive federal funding – the other two being Melbourne-Greater Shepparton and Brisbane-Sunshine Coast.
A spokeswoman for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Minister Paul Fletcher said the three rail links were judged against select criteria.
“In line with the Faster Rail Prospectus, the proposals selected represent a good mix of geographical spread, government and private consortia backed proponents, and revolutionary and evolutionary projects,” the spokeswoman said.
She added the funding was only to investigate the viability of the project and “does not indicate a commitment to fund the infrastructure projects”.
The federal government released its Faster Rail Prospectus in September.
That document mentioned the South Coast line four times, and the Newcastle line once.
The prospectus detailed the slow speeds of trains on the South Coast line – an average of 60km/h – and pointed out that an improvement in speed of 20km/h would cut the Wollongong-Sydney commute by almost 30 minutes.
According to a government fact sheet the areas the Newcastle-Sydney business case would address sound very much like the problems faced on the South Coast line.
Works to be investigated included “reducing track curvature, deviations and realignments, removal of level crossings, junction rearrangement and better segregation of passenger and freight services”.