Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong–Sydney rail line upgrades

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Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong–Sydney rail line upgrades

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EARLY STAGE PROPOSAL
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POTENTIAL INVESTMENT OPTIONS
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INVESTMENT READY PROPOSAL
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PROJECT DELIVERY
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POST COMPLETION REVIEW

Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong–Sydney rail line upgrades

A graphic of the Australian continent with NSW state shaded and small dot representing Sydney.
LOCATION
Newcastle–Sydney–Wollongong, NSW
GEOGRAPHY
Fast-growing cities
SECTOR
Transport
OUTCOME CATEGORY
National Connectivity
PROPONENT
NSW Government
PROBLEM TIMEFRAME
Longer term (10-15 years)
DATE ADDED
17 February 2016
Problem

Slow regional passenger rail speeds along the Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong– Sydney rail lines result in lengthy travel times that are generally longer than car travel.

Express services take 1 hour 28 minutes between Wollongong and Sydney, and 2 hours 37 minutes between Newcastle and Sydney.

This service level reduces accessibility to key destinations, and limits the connectivity and integration of the regions. It puts heavy reliance on private vehicle transportation along the corridors and limits opportunities to develop greater economic synergies between the three cities, which would benefit productivity.

The current level of rail capacity and quality of service reflect a range of operational and infrastructure constraints, including winding alignments across the Hawkesbury River (Newcastle–Sydney) and the Illawarra Escarpment (Wollongong–Sydney).

Early-stage Proposal

The proposed proposal includes a range of options for improvements to the lines:

  • an initial set of operational and fleet improvements
  • targeted fixed infrastructure improvements (for example, new deviations to eliminate curvatures and flatten grades)
  • a new rail crossing of the Hawkesbury River and Illawarra Escarpment
  • station improvements and capacity enhancing track amplifications.

The Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong– Sydney rail corridors were identified in the Australian Government’s Faster Rail Connecting Capital Cities and Orbital Regional Centres prospectus, which was announced as part of the 2017–18 Budget.

In 2019, the Australian and NSW Governments completed a strategic business case that identified various faster rail options from Sydney to Newcastle. The business case for faster rail options from Sydney to Wollongong was completed in March 2021.

Next Steps

In the 2020-21 Budget, the Australian Government committed a further $15 million for detailed planning work to identify potential priority faster rail projects along the Sydney to Newcastle corridor (Stage 3 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework). 

The Australian Government has also committed $8 million to further investigate faster rail options from Sydney to Wollongong in partnership with the NSW Government.

 

Refer to Infrastructure Glossary for terms and definitions.