Country Link Needs A Boost: Australia Is Large Enough To Handle It
Victor P Taffa
When Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced in 1984 that there would not be a Very Fast Train (VFT) to Canberra and Melbourne, Goulburn lost the chance to advance and grow and in the intervening years has the Southern Highlands prospered?
One local said to me on my recent visit to Goulburn from Sydney “Goulburn is no longer a railway town.” My thoughts were that this was a sad comment. Auburn Street had the through traffic removed with the construction of the By-Pass however our railways are left in the steam age.
Many may say ‘so what’ with respect to our railways. I believe that not only is it time that Railway line planning was separated from urban planning and that there be a Minister for Railways in addition to a Minister for Transport.
How many single lane roads exist? How many single lane railway lines exist? The answer to the first question is none and the answer to the second question is too many to name.
At both Campbelltown and Sydney Central Stations there are signs advising passengers regarding the short platforms. Even Campbelltown Station has only 3½ Platforms.
Railway electrification it seems exists only for Metropolitan Sydney. After I left Goulburn I proceeded onto Cooma to stay with my Aunt. The railway to Cooma was closed many years ago. With Oil a finite resource we all whinge every time the price increases. Isn’t it time that the VFT was renewed as a serious transport option?
The Southern line should be duplicated and electrified. The stations with short platforms should be full length and the Southern line should continue from Canberra to Albury.
If Queensland can have an elevated railway to its airport and a tilt train then why can’t New South Wales have a VFT to operate on a dual track line through Goulburn? Not only would a VFT provide an economic boom for Goulburn but the Southern Highlands would have a tourism boom and commuting times to Sydney would be slashed.
What is needed to balance the ledger is to provide the people of New South Wales with choice that on the surface is provided but in reality it is not when it comes to transport.
When the Brisbane-Sydney XPT takes 16½ hours without any delays in arriving at Roma Street with an XPT fleet that has only 8 sleeper cars and while at Coffs Harbour the train had to stop North of Taree because of a bumpy level crossing where a truck had lost its load and was lying on the tracks, rail travel should be a viable option in a country as large as Australia.
Rail travel should not be an afterthought that has been left stuck in the 19th century.