NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley alongside Labor Candidate for Goulburn, Ursula Stephens, today announced that it has joined forces with the ACT Government to commit $10 million to develop a business case for faster rail services between Sydney and Canberra.

Mr Foley visited the electorate of Goulburn before making the formal announcement at Queanbeyan Station alongside Australian Capital Territory Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, who is matching NSW Labor’s commitment of $5 million to bring the fund to $10 million. The federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly, and Labor’s candidate for the state seat of Monaro, Bryce Wilson, were also in attendance.

The joint NSW-ACT commitment puts regional public transport on the agenda after years of missing out to Sydney rail projects and mega toll roads.

Together the two Labor leaders are accelerating the project which has the potential to unlock tourism and employment opportunities to towns along the corridor, including Queanbeyan and Goulburn.

Last November the ACT Government entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Liberal-National NSW Government to promote greater co-operation on cross border issues, among them the benefits of a faster train journey between the two state capitals.

However, no money has been forthcoming from Gladys Berejikian and an application to the Turnbull government for federal funding was also unsuccessful.

Reducing the current journey time of four hours on the train between Sydney and Canberra would encourage tens of thousands of people to commute to those cities from towns such as Yass, Goulburn, the Southern Highlands and Wollondilly Shire. Cutting half an hour off the journey from Goulburn to Canberra would be a huge incentive for families looking to move to the town.

A shift from road to rail has the potential to take tens of thousands of cars off the roads and increase the attraction of families to live and work in the Sydney to Canberra corridor.

For the past 18 years, employment in the corridor has grown by 1.7 per cent a year and each day 50,000 people commute into the ACT for work, while around a third of Wollondilly’s residents travel to Greater Sydney for work daily.

A faster rail service could qualify for funds generated by the sale of NSW’s share in the Snowy Hydro if it meets strict criteria outlined by NSW Labor.

Investment in our regions is vital to provide good jobs and access to health and education no matter where you live. The NSW Auditor General has found that under the Liberals and Nationals, regional NSW has received less than half of promised infrastructure spending.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Labor is working together to deliver better rail for the region so that towns along the Sydney to Canberra corridor can truly achieve their potential. Andrew Barr and I know that both ACT and NSW communities can benefit equally from a faster rail connection.

“If we can reduce rail journey times along the corridor then towns like Goulburn can truly grow as more people choose to live there and work in the region.

“The Liberal-National State Government has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on blowouts on WestConnex and Sydney light rail and has starved the regions of the public transport infrastructure that is needed. Labor has the right priorities and it is in public transport.

“Faster rail is the obvious answer and Labor is committed to developing the business case so that we can get this long overdue project on the slate.”

Quotes attributable to Labor Candidate for Goulburn, Ursula Stephens

“Improving our rail services is one of the top priorities for communities along the southern line. I’m delighted that Luke Foley and NSW Labor have committed to this project. The technology exists and there are affordable options which will be identified by this business case.

“The benefits to the region will be immense and this is a realistic project that can happen in the short term. It will boost economic investment and tourism opportunities and get cars off the road.”