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The NSW government could be looking at the Maldon-Dombarton freight line as something that is good for Sydney as well as the Illawarra.
Earlier this year, regional advocacy group Illawarra First put forward an upgraded version of the rail line called the South West Illawarra Rail Link (SWIRL).
Unlike the old option, SWIRL would carry both passengers and freight and largely be a dual track.
The line would provide a direct rail link between the region and western Sydney.
This month, the Illawarra First proposal featured in a state government discussion paper called Regional Development and a Global Sydney.
The Maldon-Dombarton line has long been viewed as a project with benefits only for the Illawarra.
However, Illawarra First executive director Chris Lamont said the title of the discussion paper suggested the government also saw Sydney could benefit from something like SWIRL.
“We think the committee’s looked at this and seen not only the importance of these infrastructure projects for the regions but also the importance of the regions to global Sydney,” Mr Lamont said.
“The points that we’ve made in our various rail studies and our commentary – connecting Sydney to the regions that are closest to Sydney is just so critical; from an employment point of view, from an industry point of view.
“It’s also in terms of helping Sydney cope with its growth. We know that with the number of vehicles and the congestion that Sydney is facing it’s absolutely essential that we look at things like rail to ease the burden on Sydney, so it can do what it needs to do.”
Mr Lamont said SWIRL’s inclusion was more than just a foot in the door for the proposal.
“I think that this is a recognition now that we need to start crafting some of these solutions, looking at the specific projects, so we don’t miss the opportunity in terms of federal government funding that’s available and that we spend the money from the lease of poles and wires as effectively as we can,” Mr Lamont said
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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