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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
A CENTRAL Coast stop on the proposed $60 billion east coast high-speed rail line would massively boost jobs, business and property prices north of Sydney.
Leading business and property figures, as well as Gosford and Wyong councils, are urging the Federal Government to expedite construction of the Sydney to Newcastle section of the 1750km track between Melbourne and Brisbane.
And they want the government to confirm that a station will be built near Gosford to help move the 25 per cent of local residents who leave the area each day for work.
Gosford City Council has written to the government asking that the Central Coast section of the line be finished by 2030 — 10 years earlier than proposed — and that a station be built at Ourimbah, just north of Gosford.
Ourimbah is mentioned as a station location in the High Speed Rail Study Phase 2 Report released in April last year. It would take just 27 minutes to reach Central from there, instead of the current 90-minute commute.
The report found that high-speed rail could return $2.15 to the economy for every dollar invested.
Gosford councillor Bob Ward, who has lodged two successful motions for council to support high-speed rail, said the service from the Central Coast would have a huge impact on the region.
“It would immediately take a lot of cars off the congested M1,” Mr Ward said.
“Tourism would grow and the line will encourage business to relocate and create jobs.
Chamber of Commerce president Ali Vidler.
Gosford Councillor Bob Ward.
“It happened in the United Kingdom when the high-speed network expanded to the regions. Businesses moved and people move for the jobs and the improved lifestyles.”
Gosford City Chamber of Commerce president Ali Vidler, supports the line and agreed that a high speed link will be a “huge attraction” for businesses to open Central Coast offices.
Federal Transport Minister Warren Truss is on the record saying that finding the money from the private sector to build it will be an issue.
Speaking at a rail conference in Perth this month Mr Truss said: “Even if the private sector participates it is unlikely to be realised without significant reliance on the public purse. And while there is no shortage of companies wanting to build it, there is a dearth of people wanting to put their hand in their pockets.”
Area has potential to grow
A HIGH-SPEED link to Sydney, more jobs and a “sensible’’ approach to planning would set property prices on the Central Coast soaring towards parity with their Sydney counterparts, leading real estate agents say.
Real Estate Institute of NSW Central Coast director Brett Hunter said the coast’s growing population would continue to drive demand for properties but better infrastructure was critical to unlocking the region’s potential.
“I think there’s a number of driving forces,’’ he said.
“Probably the biggest one is population, population drives demand. And as demand continues to grow so prices will continue.
“Secondly a high-speed train or a high-speed ferry from Ettalong or Terrigal into the CBD.’’
There is also a push for a high-speed ferry from Ettalong. Picture: Cathy Waller
Mr Hunter said a high-speed ferry would not require “a huge demand for approvals’’ and cut the commute to Sydney’s CBD to 40 minutes, making the area as attractive as Manly.
Coast residents have grown wary of the succession of plans for high-speed ferries or trains over the years, especially around election time, only for them to wither on the vine of political weakness once the polling fuss is over.
But Mr Hunter said a high speed ferry was a “very viable piece of business’’ because it required minimal infrastructure “and from wherever it runs on the coast is where you can park all the cars’’.
“There are two solid opportunities, one at Terrigal and one at Ettalong,’’ he said.
Mr Hunter said rezoning rural land at Charmhaven and Warnervale for residential housing would also help bolster local property prices.
“Every time I have seen rezoned land come up it drives up demand,’’ he said.
“People are providing more livable opportunities where people want to live.’’
He said it also encouraged property investment where people could “buy a house at Warnervale or Charmhaven for $350,000 and rent it for $350 a week’’.
Third-generation coast real estate agent Bruce McLachlan said house prices would never reach parity with Sydney unless the area had the jobs to match.
“The employment opportunities are not there to support the higher prices,’’ he said.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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