FIVE years after the introduction of the city’s ground-breaking daily return train service to Sydney, has Bathurst just been given a glimpse of its next rail revolution?
A new long-term state transport plan released last week lists an extension of the Sydney electric train network to three regional cities as a project worth investigating – and Bathurst is one of the three.
The project isn’t going to happen any time soon – it is in the category of initiatives for the next 10 to 20 years – but Member for Bathurst Paul Toole says its inclusion is an acknowledgement of the city’s recent growth.
The Draft Regional NSW Services and Infrastructure Plan aims to provide a blueprint for spending on transport for the next 40 years.
Not surprisingly, Sydney’s growth plays a large part in that blueprint, with Gosford and Wollongong predicted to become satellite cities of the NSW capital in coming decades.
Looking further from Sydney, however, the plan says the extension of the electric rail network should be investigated for Bathurst in the west, Goulburn in the south-west and Bomaderry/Nowra in the south.
The plan also emphasises the importance of Bathurst being connected to the new city, being dubbed the Western City, that is predicted to spring up around the airport to be built at Badgerys Creek.
“Bathurst will mark the closest Regional City [the plan designates a number of “Regional Cities” and “Regional Centres”] to Sydney from the west,” the infrastructure plan says.
“Bathurst will require strong connections to Sydney, particularly to the Western City.”
Mr Toole said Bathurst’s place in the regional plan - which was released alongside a number of other plans to form the Future Transport 2056 Strategy - was an indication of its importance in the state’s future.
“We do know that places like Bathurst and the surrounding areas are experiencing growth as more and more people are wanting to move out of the metropolitan areas into the country,” he said.
That growth has been dramatic: the city’s population reached 43,080 after 787 new residents moved to Bathurst last year and the population is predicted to grow to 55,250 in 2036.
While acknowledging that any decision to build an electric extension to Bathurst would only come after years and “numerous reports and studies”, Mr Toole said the project would make a big difference to the city if it went ahead in the future.
“It would mean more [train] services, more opportunities for tourism, more opportunities for businesses,” he said.
And he said the 40-year scope of the plan, rather than a weakness, was its strength.
“This is smart government planning for future needs. It’s not waiting until the problem is on the doorstep,” he said.
Bathurst Regional Council general manager David Sherley said council “supports transport infrastructure works that offer improved transport connections in and out of the Bathurst region and in particular to the Sydney metropolitan area”.
“Council, with Centroc [Central NSW Councils], is reviewing the draft plans and will make a submission to the NSW Government in respect of the plans,” he said.
Mr Sherley said Bathurst Regional Council staff will attend briefings with Transport for NSW on Friday.
Members of the community are also invited to meet with representatives from the Future Transport 2056 team when the Future Transport van is parked on Russell Street near the court house throughout the day.