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Completing the Maldon-Dombarton railway line would provide a massive economic boost for Wollondilly and importantly, link the region with the soon-to-be-constructed Western Sydney Airport and the Illawarra.
That’s the view of community leaders who believe the rail link would form a vital piece of regional infrastructure, particularly if the proposed Wilton New Town development, estimated to bring about 50,000 new people to the region, goes ahead.
The incomplete bridge. Picture: NSW GovernmentThe unfinished Maldon-Dombarton line was cancelled in 1988 and successive governments have failed to find a cost-effective way to finish construction.
According to the Transport NSW Future Transport Strategy 2056 draft report, the project is slated for planning and investigation over the next 10-20 years.
The half-finished railway bridge pictured in 1995.Wollondilly Mayor Judy Hannan said the time frame wouldn’t be adequate to support the region’s needs.
“Our submission on rail will be quite firm in what we need,” she said.
“Rail would link us to the Illawarra and give us the opportunity to link to the Western Sydney Airport.
“It allows us to change the economy of the area and would provide access to the university in Wollongong and provide future tourism opportunities.”
Cr Hannan said the council wanted to see a real plan for the region’s infrastructure that would see a target for infrastructure projects in place relative to Wollondilly’s population growth.
“Once we know the number of people that are going to be in place I would like to see a strategy planning the rail that is not just motherhood statements,” she said.
Wollondilly Mayor Judy Hannan at Picton Station calling for electrification of the rail line from Macarthur into Wollondilly last month. Picture: Joel Carrett“Reasonably it’s not going to happen right now but it the planning needs to be underway now.”
Wollondilly state Liberal MP Jai Rowell said he recently had met with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to discuss infrastructure priorities along with Cr Hannan.
Mr Rowell agreed that a population target needed to be set for the provision of infrastructure.
“That’s something I’ve been saying right along and that was our case to the Premier,” he said.
“We need to have a real understanding of the number of people we are going to have so we know what we need when we meet the threshold.
“I’m confident that at some point I’ll be announcing that the government will be providing that infrastructure.”
Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell in 2014 after securing funding for an engineering study. Picture: Robert PozoMr Rowell said real population data would be needed to reach that figure so planning could be done right.
“At the moment, Wilton New Town hasn’t been rezoned and we need to understand what the population will be,” he said.
“Wollondilly’s growth rate in the past few years has been two per cent but that will obviously be different in the future.
“I think we’re going to get a positive outcome.”
Mr Rowell said a $20 million engineering study had been conducted which provided an idea of how to start construction.
A report by Infrastructure Australia in February recommended against federal funding for the project, arguing that “the project would not generate sufficient benefits to justify its costs.”.
Bulli MP Ian McManus at Avon tunnel near Unanderra, on unfinished Maldon-Dombarton railway line which has been idle for last seven years while politicians argue. Alone New South Wales (NSW) / Railways / Tunnels
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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