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A Labor government will spend $2.4 billion on the rail line between Wollongong and Sydney instead of funding the F6 extension.
But commuters will have to wait until almost Christmas to find out how Labor plans to spend that money.
One thing that won’t be built under a Labor government is a tunnel through the escarpment – a project for which the Greens have promised federal funds.
Keira MP and Labor treasury spokesman Ryan Park delivered the promise at Wollongong station flanked by the region's Labor MPs Anna Watson and Paul Scully.
“Improving the Illawarra South Coast rail lines will be the priority over funding a very expensive and and unnecessary F6 toll road,” Mr Park said.
“I believe that public transport, and in particular the rail links between here and Sydney, needs to be the focus on public investment.”
Mr Park said this meant a Labor government would not be proceeding with the first stage of the F6 extension – a pair of four-kilometre tunnels between Arncliffe and Kogarah.
That road is budgeted to cost at least $2.2 billion.
“We want to make it very clear to the private sector now that we will not be proceeding with this,” Mr Park said.
There was no detail of what rail projects the $2.4 billion would fund, Mr Park saying that would be announced “over the next few weeks” after discussions with industry, commuters and within the Labor party.
“We know there is a vast range of possible improvements that could be made along that corridor – untangling the line, straightening out the line, allowing for passing lanes to occur,” he said.
On Thursday the Greens promised $1.5 billion in federal funds for a Thirroul tunnel – but a Labor government will not be looking to get involved in that project.
“That will mean commuters north of Thirroul do not have a station to get onto,” Mr Park said.
“That will mean it will congest what is already a very congested Thirroul precinct.”
He said it “was not a plan" of Labor to look at raising ticket prices to offset the cost of the promised upgrades.
“That’s not where we’re thinking at all in relation to this,” he said.
Mr Park felt an improved South Coast line would draw more commuters off the road; he said many drove to Sydney because the rail line “was simply not up to speed”.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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