A transport lobby group has thrown its support behind replacing the entire NSW regional train fleet and a move towards building a maintenance facility at Dubbo.
Lachlan Regional Transport Committee (LRTC) president Dom Figliomeni said the two parts of the project announced by NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro this week would create opportunities and jobs in the region.
The ageing XPT fleet had been a matter of discussion for the LRTC and the announcement that it, along with the Endeavour and Xplorer fleets, would be replaced was greatly welcomed, he said.
The LRTC president hoped it would have a flow-on effect and urged the government to give more attention to strategic planning for the future rail network.
“So it’s very important that we do get an efficient rail network within NSW,” he said.
Lines including the partially-built Maldon-Dombarton line and the Blayney-Demondrille line needed to be part of the long-term rail planning strategy, and “unfortunately” at the moment they did not seem to be, Mr Figliomeni said.
“But the setting up of the rail maintenance facility at Dubbo, the upgrading of the passenger fleet is something the LRTC has brought to the minister before and we greatly welcome the decision,” he said.
“It is a decision which I think will result in significant regional benefits.”
Mr Barilaro said on Monday the project was probably be one of the largest procurements of trains in Australia.
When Mr Figliomeni was asked if the project encouraged him about the future of rail, he said it was welcome, but there was still more work to be done.
It was an indication rail must and needed to play a more significant part, whether it was passenger rail or freight rail, he said.
“A more significant part of the logistics network within NSW,” he said.
“Unfortunately particularly regional rail has been allowed to languish for many years and I think the current government is realising we really need to bring it up to standard.
“As I say there is still a lot of work that needs to be done, there’s the location of intermodal facilities, there’s a lot of work being done at Parkes, particularly in relation to the inland rail.
“...it is good news that Dubbo has been chosen as the location for the maintenance facility and this I think in time will really benefit regional rail as it starts to develop a critical mass and a critical capability in relation to skills.
“And hopefully also work towards providing a hub for more rail facilities.”