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NSW looks to trans­port fu­ture

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS - By James Ben­nett

Im­prove­ments to ru­ral roads will be es­sen­tial as the NSW Gov­ern­ment works to­ward its Fu­ture Trans­port 2056 ini­tia­tive, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal trans­port op­er­a­tor Kelvin Bax­ter.

Mr Bax­ter cau­tiously wel­comed the state gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tive which will aim to im­prove the con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween ma­jor cities and ru­ral towns.

He said while it hints at ma­jor ben­e­fits for trans­port op­er­a­tors, there are some sig­nif­i­cant as­pects miss­ing and the in­creased fo­cus on rail freight could also im­pact on lo­cal busi­nesses.

The 40-year draft plan in­cludes more than 160 projects across re­gional NSW in­clud­ing high­way up­grades, pas­sen­ger rail im­prove­ments and ini­tia­tives to ac­com­mo­date the ar­rival of au­to­mated tech­nolo­gies.

Rive­rina spe­cific projects al­ready in­cluded in the draft plan in­clude lane widen­ing and flood mit­i­ga­tion works on the Sturt and Newell High­ways, as well as the pro­posal to re-open the TocumwalNar­ran­dera freight line.

NSW Deputy Pre­mier John Bar­i­laro pre­vi­ously al­lo­cated fund­ing to com­plete a fea­si­bil­ity study on the pro­posal.

Mr Bax­ter said Fu­ture Trans­port 2056 sounds like a ‘‘re­fresh­ing and pos­i­tive’’ plan, but he flagged some con­cerns with the con­tent.

‘‘There’s no men­tion of bet­ter ac­cess for higher pro­duc­tiv­ity ve­hi­cles such as type one road trains and B triples, or of uni­form higher max limit net­works,’’ Mr Bax­ter said.

‘‘Higher max limit net­works also need to be linked to the sale yards or feed mills.

‘‘At the mo­ment each coun­cil area has sep­a­rate stan­dards and higher max lim­its, so to get to Wagga I have to go through Jer­ilderie and Nar­ran­dera when it would be much eas­ier to go through Urana and Lock­hart.

‘‘As for the rail fea­si­bil­ity study, I be­lieve it should be in the con­text of an in­land rail line through the Goul­burn Val­ley, Mur­ray Val­ley and Mur­rumbidgee Val­ley, as there isn’t a func­tion­ing train line in those ar­eas.’’

Mr Bax­ter has also called on the gov­ern­ment to look at in­creas­ing high­way speed lim­its as part of the plan.

He said an in­creased limit of 100km/h is suc­cess­fully man­aged on the Newell High­way, and should be ex­tended to other ma­jor trans­port routes in­clud­ing the Rive­rina High­way.

Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for South­ern NSW Bron­nie Tay­lor said Fu­ture Trans­port 2056’s aim is to look at bet­ter re­gional in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Rive­rina cities and ways in which outer ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties can ac­cess larger cen­tres eas­ily and more fre­quently.

The plan will in­clude the con­tin­u­a­tion of ex­ist­ing pro­grams like Bridges for the Bush, Fix­ing Coun­try Roads and Fix­ing Coun­try Rail. There also will be a fo­cus on level cross­ing up­grades, up­grad­ing re­gional airstrips and a statewide roll­out of On­De­mand Trans­port.

Fu­ture Trans­port 2056 is avail­able for public feed­back un­til De­cem­ber 3, 2017, at www.fu­ture.trans­port.nsw.gov.au.

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