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Integrating our Mega-Regions:
Implications for Sydney-Newcastle High Speed Rail

It is well-known the Sydney – Newcastle is the most difficult part of the whole East Coast high speed rail route.  There is a risk that a “stand-alone” HSR concept will be seen as too expensive and the benefits too far into the future, leading to cancellation of the project.  We recommend an "integrated network" design encompassing both HSR and faster rail can be more effectively staged, provide early benefits, and reduce the up-front risk.  It will also provide the best long-term solution and allow significant upgrades to the rail networks ultimately serving three-quarters of Australia’s population.


It is time for a bi-partisan approach to build an integrated national rail network utilising both faster and high-speed rail:

  • Improve connectivity within each of our mega-regions around Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by providing fast access to nearby regional cities

  • Connect these regions together with high high speed rail that duplicates and inter-connects with the existing conventional rail line to support fast freight as well as high-speed and fast passenger trains

An integrated design enables very fast intercapital services on the high speed line; fast interurban, regional and commuter passenger services (plus freight services) to join and utilise the high-speed line at appropriate junctions with the conventional line; and bulk freight, local regional passenger trains and container trains to continue to use the existing conventional lines.

The construction of a high speed line between Sydney and Newcastle could easily double current capacity to cater for anticipated population growth in the Central Coast and Newcastle.  It will shift traffic from road to rail with faster trains and increase rail freight mode-share.

Achieving this requires maximising the use of both the existing and the new line. This is easier to accomplish if some of the current intercity trains from Newcastle and the Central Coast can also use the high-speed line, bypassing the Cowan Bank and Hornsby, and also reduce congestion between Epping and Central Station by running to a new high speed station at Rosehill.

This requires junction stations at Hawkesbury River and at Tuggerah to enable Intercity trains (which have higher capacity) to join the high-speed line. This will not only address capacity issues but will also provide greater travel time savings for commuters from the Greater Newcastle and Central Coast regions.

Adopting this approach allows the high speed line to be built in stages, with each stage enabling the introduction of new passenger services into the Central Coast and Hunter regions.

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