The Infrastructure Australia Priority List for 2020 released today still includes the important infrastructure projects for the region including upgrading the Picton Road and rail freight access to Port Kembla, noting the rail project needs to get started within the next five years.
This latest official advice from infrastructure experts coincides with the secret final business case for the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail link, which was released in 2018 after a Freedom of Information request.
This report provided a damning assessment of the region's current infrastructure capability, and made clear that freight train paths on the Illawarra Line will be cut dramatically from 60 paths per day to just 8 paths per day, and could confine freight operations to "night time only" by 2031.
The Infrastructure Australia Priority List for 2020 continues to encourage the New South Wales Government to “identify initiatives and develop options” for the upgrade of the Picton Road and freight rail access to Port Kembla.
Given the urgency of the freight rail task, the NSW Government needs to clarify which project it will specifically support to improve freight access to Port Kembla and whether that includes completing the Maldon-Dombarton rail link or upgrading the existing Moss Vale-Unanderra Line.
Member for Wollongong, Paul Scully said, “We are rapidly heading towards the deadline is going hit when passenger and freight services will have to compete for rapidly declining slots because of the congestion on the South Coast Line.
“The NSW Government has been warned time and again in its own reports that this day of reckoning is coming and yet it stubbornly refuses to do anything about it.
“We don’t know where the NSW Government stands on the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail project; although we do know that a number of Government members, including Ministers, support it.
“Today’s Infrastructure Australia report keeps telling us the same thing we have heard for years: the NSW Government needs to flesh out how and how much funding it will commit to delivering on progressing the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton link and upgrade of the Picton Road.
“There is widespread support for both of these infrastructure projects in the Illawarra.
The only support lacking is from the Federal and NSW Governments”, he said.
Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird said, “This latest Infrastructure Australia report confirms that we have two crucially important road and rail infrastructure projects for the region that encouragingly remain on the priority lists year after year.
“The Federal and State Governments need to get on with allocating funding to progress the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail link and upgrading the Picton Road”, she said.
Both Federal and NSW Labor have previously pledged to allocate funding for both projects at previous election campaigns, including the 2019 elections.