Regional Development Australia Central Coast (RDACC) has welcomed a proposed “Sandstone mega-region” of 10 million people to stretch from Newcastle to Wollongong, linked by high-speed rail.
The proposal has been presented in a report from the Committee for Sydney which called for closer relationships between Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong and Greater Sydney.
The mega-region takes its name from the sandstone base shared by each of the regions.
The report advocates for the Central Coast to become part of an economic powerhouse linked by superior transport linkages, with each hub specialising as a major trade point.
RDACC chief executive officer, John Mouland, said it made sense for the Central Coast to play to its strengths to increase its economic viability and employment opportunities.
“Currently, we have several regions competing against one another for funding and resources,” Mr Mouland said.
“Taking a more collaborative approach and focusing on the individual strengths of each region allows us to work together to create economies of scale.”
Mr Mouland said improving transport linkages would have a major impact on Central Coast employment.
“Improving our transport linkages to Sydney, particularly through enhancements to our rail network, could lead to the creation of an additional 3,875 local jobs in Gosford by 2036,” he said.
“A faster and more efficient rail network will also slash commuting times, reducing the transport time from Gosford to the Sydney CBD from 80 minutes to 40 minutes, making this a much more viable option for many Central Coast residents.”
The proposed fast train network follows recent funding commitments by the Australian and NSW governments to co-fund a business case to investigate required works between Sydney and Newcastle, which include reducing track curvature, deviations and realignments, removal of level crossings, junction rearrangements and better segregation of passenger and freight services.
That business case was expected to be delivered in the next 12 to 18 months and would then proceed to independent assessment by Infrastructure Australia, Mr Mouland said.
The next steps recommended in the Committee for Sydney’s report to further investigate the establishment of a mega-region include the commissioning of further research into fast rail between Sydney and Newcastle, and the examination of ways to harmonise existing regional plans.
Following this, the report calls for the consideration of an inter-city governance arrangement to ensure alignment between each of the six cities’ plans and strategies.
RDACC is encouraging all Central Coast residents to become familiar with the report, its findings and recommendations.