The region’s peak business advocacy organisation, Business Illawarra, has today lodged its submission to the Draft Regional Transport Plan,  a NSW Government document designed to outline a long-term vision for the region’s connectivity. 

In doing so, we have been clear that while the region’s road network is benefiting from an unprecedented level of investment, a clear vision to resolve the Illawarra’s looming rail connectivity constraints is currently lacking in the draft document.

Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth said that there was an opportunity in the final draft for Transport for NSW to deliver a strategy that ticks all the boxes, but that this can only be done by identifying the South West Illawarra Rail Link as a planning priority for the government.

“From an economic standpoint, it is very encouraging to have received commitments late last year to the major upgrades to Picton Road and Mount Ousley that we have long advocated for, and to see these reflected in the Draft Plan,” said Mr Zarth.

“However the Draft Plan does not provide a solution to the constraints of our rail network, which is generally agreed will reach capacity for both passengers and freight by 2036.”

“Research we commissioned from the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility launched late last year found that without intervention by 2036, freight capacity constraints will be costing our economy $230 million per annum by 2041.”

“Instead the Draft Plan commits the government to investigating the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Corridor ‘in the medium-term (10-20 years),’ which will be far too late to deliver a solution that can keep our economy growing and serve our expanding population.”

“Our research found that the most cost-effective solution is for the South West Illawarra Rail Line (SWIRL) proposal to be extended to St Marys in three stages, which will deliver a regional economic impact of $3.551 billion per annum by 2036.”

“Therefore we have recommended that the Final Plan commit to commencing immediate planning work for the first stage of the SWIRL, so that it can be operational by 2036, and include a station at Wilton to support the population growth of the Wollondilly Shire.”

“The third stage of the SWIRL to St Marys should be operational by 2041 in order to serve the planned container terminal at Port Kembla and enable the dispatching of containers from Port Kembla to Western Sydney and beyond.”