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A fast rail link from Sydney to Newcastle is the top transport priority for more than one-third of NSW voters, new polling shows, with a metro from the CBD to Parramatta next on their wish list.
But 60 per cent of voters are unsure or do not believe the government's signature transport projects, including WestConnex and the CBD light rail, will be worth the pain from years of disruption.
More than 35 per cent of respondents identified the fast rail link as their top infrastructure priority.
Photo: Jonathan CarrollThe exclusive ReachTel poll for Fairfax Media asked 1627 voters across NSW to prioritise rail and road transport projects. More than 35 per cent identified the fast rail link as the top priority.
The state and federal governments are working on a strategic business case for the rail link, which will be finalised in the first half of next year.
The Sydney West Metro, a high-frequency, underground railway planned between the CBD and Parramatta, was identified as the next priority by 23 per cent of voters, followed by the F6 Extension to the Illawarra.
Eamon Waterford, the acting chief executive of advocacy group Committee for Sydney, said many people, particularly young professionals, had been priced out of Sydney and were turning to the regions.
"The benefits of faster rail links from Sydney to the regions means a sharing of the population growth but also a sharing of a booming Sydney economy," Mr Waterford said.
A report by the group released this year said a fast train network connecting greater Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle could slash the commutes from Gosford to Sydney, and from Wollongong to Liverpool, by half.
Fairfax Media's polling also showed the issue of population growth and overdevelopment were key issues for voters, with almost two-thirds of people wanting migration to Sydney restricted and new arrivals sent to the regions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated plans to slow the intake of some temporary migrants and encourage them to settle regionally.
More than 50 per cent of voters polled also opposed more development in Sydney to accommodate population growth, the poll results show.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted a national debate on the issue of population to involve the states, which are the "frontline of infrastructure and service delivery".
In an interview with Fairfax Media to mark six months until the state election, the Premier said voters should be confident that the pain of new transport projects would be worth the gain.
"We are saying thank you for being patient during this time and the reward is just around the corner," Ms Berejiklian said.
"So not only will a lot of these major projects either be finished or almost finished but they will make a difference to your quality of life."
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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