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I COULD not agree more with the vision of the Bathurst of the future described by Stuart Pearson in the Western Advocate on April 6 (“We’re on the right track to be part of rail renaissance”).
I came up with a proposal last year that would solve the housing problem in Sydney and provide the infrastructure which would ignite the development of the Central West and the economy generally and forwarded this proposal to the NSW Government in May 2017.
The key would be the construction of twin tunnels under the Blue Mountains, with high speed rail installed over the M4 to Strathfield, continuing underground to a new underground station at Central Railway Station. The rail would run to Bathurst and Orange west of the Blue Mountains.
To address the Sydney housing problem, a new city would be constructed between Lithgow and Oberon, with a maximum number of houses provided, before another similar city was constructed further west.
I considered that there are insufficient numbers of tradespeople available to construct such housing in a reasonable time, and suggested that a new industry be established to provide factory-built houses.
With even a 200 kilometre per hour train service, the commuting time from the new city to Central Station would be approximately one hour.
Houses would be approximately half the price of any in Sydney.
In such circumstances, the new residents would consider they still lived in Sydney with such quick access available. Commuting time would be faster than from the Northern Beaches.
The factory-built housing could be expanded to provide an export product, possibly replacing the automobile industry for size of employment.
Even a container-size house would be in great demand in many areas of the world, such as Haiti.
The fast rail would completely change the choices available for people in the Greater Sydney area forever.
The effect on the economy in the Central West would be enormous, and most probably lead to a situation described by Mr Pearson.
Imagine a situation where Bathurst residents could take the kids to Manly or Bondi for the day and arrive back home in the evening at a reasonable time.
The same convenience would be true for Sydney residents escaping to the country for a day or weekend.
My proposal was seriously considered by the NSW Government at Premier level and passed on to Planning.
Where the proposal is at currently, I do not know.
The concept would cost billions of dollars, however, such ventures are common in other parts of the world and examples were provided, including methods of financing such projects.
I believe the cost should be shared by the Federal Government as it would be nation-building.
The boost to the economy, after the initial investment, would probably pay for the total project, and the initial cost would be spread over, say, 15 years, which is a reasonable construction period.
Our rail is currently serviced by a track which is little different to the original line built in the 1920s.
The “Express” trains between Sydney and Melbourne use this same track, with an average speed between Lithgow and Bathurst of around 50km/hr.
It is time that governments, both state and federal, addressed the growth of regional Australia.
We need politicians with the same aspirations as the ones who built the original rail over the Blue Mountains – which, in my opinion, was a far tougher project in its day than the one envisaged.
John Eccles, Kelso
This article first appeared on www.westernadvocate.com.au
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