Federal government announces $8 million business case for faster rail between Sydney and Parkes

FAST RAIL: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM has described the federal government's announcement to invest $8 million into a business case for a faster rail link between Sydney and Parkes as significant.
FAST RAIL: Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM has described the federal government's announcement to invest $8 million into a business case for a faster rail link between Sydney and Parkes as significant.

Federal Member for Riverina and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has announced $8 million will be provided to fund a business case for faster rail between Sydney and Parkes.

As part of the government's Plan for Australia's Future Population, the funding is to take pressure off the big cities and support the growth of the regions.

And in the process - Mr McCormack said residents and businesses in Parkes will benefit from a boost to jobs and tourism.

"We want more people to live, work and raise a family in the regions," he said.

"Faster rail services not only help to ease road congestion, it also means more people can access the regions with reliable transport connections, which helps to create jobs and opportunities beyond the bright city lights.

"Faster rail will also be a boon for the annual Elvis Festival in January in which many tourists use the Elvis Express to travel to Parkes."

The Parkes-to-Sydney - via Lithgow, Bathurst and Orange - business case is one of five as part of a 20-year vision to better connect capital cities with surrounding regional centres.

Currently the 445-kilometre rail journey between Sydney and Parkes takes about six and a half hours with the train travelling at an average speed of 68 kilometres per hour.

"The Liberal and Nationals' Government is investing to help Australians get home sooner and safer, no matter where they live," Mr McCormack said.

Parkes Mayor Ken Keith OAM described the business case as significant for the shire and that it would cement Parkes as an integral part of Australia's rail network if it came to fruition.

"It is obviously not going to happen overnight [but]... The fact that they want to build a fast rail to end at Parkes is significant. They could have chosen Orange, a larger city centre, but that they've chosen Parkes, it's terrific," he said.

"When Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they want to build a fast rail to Parkes, that puts us right up there."

Cr Keith said faster rail would provide a safe and fast commute to Sydney, making Parkes a more attractive residential or business location.

"It would be particularly appealing to elderly residents with medical appointments in our capital city," he said.

"The benefits to Parkes in terms of tourism, residential development and business investment could be enormous when it eventuates.

"The fast rail would be a great adjunct to our developing National Logistics Hub which could offer maintenance opportunities in the future."

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The government's 20-year fast rail plan invests $40 million for detailed assessments of the five additional corridors, complementing the three presently underway that the federal government has funded, and others that state governments are funding.

These detailed assessments will determine the next priorities for funding and construction.

The Australian Government will create a National Fast Rail Agency to guide the work, determine priorities based on the assessments, work with state governments, communities and the private sector, and provide innovative finance solutions.