A networked city model linking regional centres with capital city hubs and other regional hubs can assist with the pressing problems of balancing population growth and ensuring economic and social benefits are distributed evenly.
With its commitment to spend $10 billion over the next 10 years on transformational passenger rail projects in our major cities and surrounding regional areas, the federal government has recognised the essential part rail can play in redirecting growth to regional centres. The National Rail Program aims to make cities more liveable and efficient, reduce the burden on our roads, bolster efforts to decentralise the economy and develop regional areas. Evidence of this plan in action can be seen in the Victorian Regional Rail Revival program, a joint initiative of the Australian and Victorian governments that will upgrade stations, signalling and track across Victoria. It will deliver major upgrades to every regional passenger line in Victoria, plus create over 1000 jobs.
Other initiatives are underway that put the case for faster rail connections between cities and important regional hubs, with the federal government recently selecting three business case proposals to receive funding under its Faster Rail program. Included is the NSW government’s proposal for a faster rail service between Sydney and the state’s second-largest city, Newcastle. With 30,000 NSW Central Coast residents using the existing Newcastle to Sydney line daily, service improvements to the rail corridor could be a game-changer for those wanting the lifestyle of a regional centre but easy access to the job opportunities available in Sydney.
Also to receive funding as part of the Faster Rail program is CLARA's proposal for Melbourne to Greater Shepparton and the proposal by North Coast Connect consortium for improved connections between Brisbane and the Moreton Bay and Sunshine Coast regions. Image of a Victorian V/Line train courtesy of the Victorian Premier's Office