The century-old rail infrastructure servicing the Illawarra badly needs upgrading, said Illawarra Business Chamber CEO Adam Zarth.
The CEO praised the news that the NSW Government would investigate faster rail options for the South Coast, and three other regions.
“The South Coast line was opened in 1887 and now takes a minimum of 87 minutes to reach Central station at an average speed of 56 km/h,” Mr Zarth said.
“This is a major issue for passengers and freight users alike, as it represents our only rail link to Greater Sydney.
“The Illawarra region can no longer rely on 19th century transport infrastructure.
“Investing in improved rail connectivity will provide major and substantial economic benefits and improve transport safety for current and future generations.”
Mr Zarth said the government announcement was a “welcome step” towards dealing with the transport connectivity issues that chamber research said would cost the region $640 million a year by 2031.
“We welcome the opportunity to discuss solutions to the Illawarra’s transport connectivity constraints, because as a regional economy we cannot afford the looming choke points that our research indicates are coming in 2030 for freight rail and in 2025 for our roads,” Mr Zarth said.
As well as upgrades to the rail route between Wollongong and Sydney, Mr Zarth said there were other transport infrastructure solutions that would provide a boost to the region's economy.
These included the duplication of Picton Road and completion of all three stages of the F6 Extension.
“A mix of rail and road improvements are needed to keep our economy open to the Sydney market,” Mr Zarth said.