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Wollongong was still under consideration for a stop on any proposed Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne high-speed rail network, Greens transport spokeswoman Lee Rhiannon has said.
A study into high-speed rail was commissioned by the federal government as part of a deal to earn the support of the Greens in Parliament.
The first phase of the study laid out a proposed route and identified the Illawarra as a regional area that could benefit from high-speed rail.
However, it said the terrain could make building the line to the Illawarra more "challenging" than one through the Southern Highlands.
A new report on the benefits of high-speed rail only mentions Illawarra once, in a map of the route.
However, Senator Rhiannon said that did not mean it would pass Wollongong by.
"The proposed route is currently being considered in more detail as part of phase two of the government's study and Wollongong is by no means off the drawing board," Sen Rhiannon said.
Phase one of the report identified indicative station locations and did not rule out a rail link through Wollongong, but highlighted that further engineering and environmental appraisal was needed, she said.
"The Greens advocate a planning phase that involves extensive community consultation that will discuss the pros and cons of high-speed rail in the Illawarra."
Sen Rhiannon said the idea had strong community support and that it was time to get moving on the project.
"With climate change and oil shortages biting at our heels, it is critical we invest in public transport infrastructure which will protect the environment, cut commuting time and costs, and improve the liveability of regional areas like the Illawarra," she said.
The recently-released report Benefits That Add Up came up with $48 billion in benefits, including fewer accidents, less congestion on roads and at airports, and growth for areas where the high-speed rail would stop.
"There are many naysayers who continue to throw up reasons why it should not be built in Australia," Sen Rhiannon said.
"Providing hard evidence that underline the benefits is critical. The latest report is an important asset in the debate around high-speed rail, highlighting the benefits, such as less pollution, improving job and social options, reducing accidents and congestion."
The report was written by Naomi Edwards, a former partner at Deloitte Australia. She said the benefits of high-speed rail did not flow through to just passengers.
"So you've got less crowded roads, so there are time savings for road users. You've got lower accident costs because cars are off the road, and that doesn't just affect people on the trains.
"You've got lower greenhouse gas emissions, which obviously affects everyone."
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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