Upgrade and Reinstate Passenger Services on the Tottenham Line
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Sydney is becoming overcrowded and many families are now struggling to buy a home, pay exorbitant rents or even cover the cost to commute across the city. Sydney is rapidly becoming unaffordable, overcrowded and chaotic - and as Dick Smith said, "It's like termites living in rows of high-rises". And now the Government wants to send new migrants to regional areas to ease congestion in these ever-increasing "termite mound" suburbs.
Decentralisation is the answer to many of the problems being faced in overcrowded cities like Sydney and Melbourne, including where to house new migrants. However, before people will consider moving out west, they need to be reassured the infrastructure they will need to commute to jobs is already in place. Many new migrants will not be in a position to buy a family car and will be relying 100% on public transport.
Recently, the NSW Government announced a future 'Fast Train' service between Parkes and Sydney, which would enable people living in the Central West better access to the coast. However, there are no plans to reinstate connecting rail services to access that 'Fast Train' - so how do people get to the station at Parkes to connect with that wonderful new service?
Passenger services on the Tottenham Branch Line were closed back in 1974 and when that happened, all the towns along its route suffered terribly - people moved away in droves, businesses closed and basic services were shut down one after the other. Towns like Tullamore, Albert, Tottenham, Bogan Gate and Trundle all became close to becoming 'ghost towns' and each of those communities can now only boast populations of a few hundred people.
But there's hope of the horizon in the form of the new Inland Rail Line which will soon be linking Parkes with both Melbourne and Brisbane. The Tottenham Branch Line also connects with Parkes (via Bogan Gate), which could easily bring commuters to and from that city for work and enable smooth connections with the new 'Fast Train'. The city of Parkes is on a projectory to becoming one of the largest inland industrial and logistics hubs in Australia, due to its positioning on the crossroads of the Inland Rail Line and the main east-west Transcontinental Line. That city is also being earmarked as the logical site for Australia's first and largest Inland International Freight Airport - so there will soon be more jobs than people in this region.
There are also new cobalt, nickel and scandium mines opening at Fifield, (near Tullamore and Trundle) and there will be an immediate need for better transport options to get miners and other ancillary workers to and from work. And once these mines are in full production, there will no doubt be even more jobs available in all the towns along the Tottenham Line as new tech-mineral related industries, such as li-ion battery, electric car, fast train, aviation and space component production become established in the area. It is envisaged that these mines will have a 25 to 30 year life thus ensuring employment for decades to come. A passenger train is the most logical way to get all these workers to and from their destinations without causing even more chaos and deaths on our narrow, pot-holed, kangaroo-infested roads. Add to this the ever-increasing price of petrol to keep a car on the road and travelling by train makes a whole lot of sense - not only on the Tottenham Line but on other branch lines that have also closed across the state - these too should be reopened and passenger services reinstated.
The branch line itself needs an urgent upgrade so it can be used for the expected additional, heavier freight moving between these new mines and Parkes and so it is suitable for safer passenger train traffic. But the cost, which is expected to be far less than that of the Sydney Light Rail project or the Sydney Stadium rebuilds, will be worth it.
If the Tottenham Branch Line was to be upgraded and passenger services were to be re-instated, it would breathe new life into all the towns along the Bogan Way - Tottenham, Albert, Tullamore, Trundle and Bogan Gate. New homes would spring up, new businesses would open and people would be able to commute to and from Parkes and the Fifield mines for work in comfort and safety. And the Central West would become an extremely viable option for many first home buyers, renters and migrants from Sydney and other overcrowded, chaotic cities.
On top of all these benefits, a whole new tourism market would open up, making it easier for International and Interstate visitors to experience the Central West in comfort, by rail. And these visitors would be spending their money in the towns along the Bogan Way instead of elsewhere.
By upgrading one branch line and reinstating one passenger rail service, which offered a daily commute for people living in the Central West, an entire region in western NSW would start to boom again. It really is that simple to get the Central West back on track.
Pictured: map of all NSW rail lines showing the Tottenham Line highlighted in yellow. The grey lines are lines which have closed and should also be reopened.
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