Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong–Sydney rail line upgrades

Back to Map

Newcastle–Sydney and Wollongong–Sydney rail line upgrades

Connectivity between Newcastle, Wollongong and Sydney CBD
Early-stage proposal (Stage 1)
Newcastle–Sydney–Wollongong, NSW
Fast-growing cities
National Connectivity
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Longer term (10-15 years)
Proposed By
NSW Government
Date added to the IPL
17 February 2016


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 the Sydney employment market from the Wollongong and Newcastle regions, which have above average unemployment. It also limits opportunities to develop greater economic synergies between the three cities, which would benefit productivity.

Uncompetitive rail services also add to  road congestion on key roads linking the three cities. 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).


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. Subsequently, funding has been committed by the Australian Government and NSW Government to develop strategic business cases for faster rail between Sydney and Newcastle, and between Sydney and Wollongong.

Next steps

Proponent to develop potential investment options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).