IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN REGIONAL NSW
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For far too long there has been a serious imbalance in State Government spending when it comes to vital infrastructure in the bush. While the cities repeatedly get billions of dollars spent on upgrades to their public transport systems and tollways, in some regional areas, there are no regular bus or train services. This gross imbalance in spending needs to be rectified. In Tottenham we have been lucky enough to be given a new weekly mini-bus service, but other country towns are still missing out.
In 1974, several passenger services on branch lines were closed down and when that happened dozens of small rural towns scattered along those lines, like Tottenham, Tullamore, Bogan Gate and Trundle went into economic 'free fall'. We urgently need to reverse this ongoing trend - where businesses are closing down, streets are lined with empty shops and people are making a mass exodus to the coast to look for work.
The way to stop this from happening is simple - we need to reinstate daily passenger rail services on all branch lines.
Across the UK, modern, state-of-the-art one and two carriage pacer trains keep small communities connected with regional centres. We need to do the same thing here in NSW if this State is going to grow and prosper.
The time for spending the majority of the infrastructure budget on Sydney is over. The NSW Government needs to look after the whole State, not just towns on the eastern seaboard. There is a new tech minerals mine being opened up at Fifield which will be generating hundreds of new jobs, but without public transport it will be very difficult and very expensive for those people to commute to work every day. On top of this, there will undoubtedly be new industries being established along the Bogan Way which will want to take advantage of the resources the mine produces and the people working in those factories and distribution centres will also be looking to access affordable public transport. We also have an aging community in the west. We also have many young families in the bush who cannot afford to run a car, or for some reason, no longer drive. We have people who would like to be able to commute to a job in a nearby regional centre, so they can buy an affordable house and raise a family. We need to provide public transport options for all these people which is cheap and easy for them to use on a daily basis. Reinstating passenger train services on branch lines, many of which are currently under-utilized, like the Tottenham Branch Line, is the most practical way of fixing this spending imbalance and will generate massive economic and population growth in the bush.
At a time when 'Decentralisation' and the 'Central West and Orana Regional Plan' are being discussed, it is pretty obvious that if the Government is really serious about stimulating the economy in the Central West over the next twenty years, then public transport infrastructure needs to be an essential part of any future planning strategy. You can't expect people to commute via car every single day, when fuel is so expensive. However in the report released recently by the Hon Anthony Roberts MP, public transport infrastructure barely got a mention. This oversight needs to be rectified. .
(Pictured is a 144e two-carriage Pacer Train which is ideal for use on branch lines in the Central West.)
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