TRAIN travel time between Bathurst and Sydney could be cut by almost an hour if the route was realigned, according to deputy premier John Barilaro.
Mr Barilaro said straightening the track would lead to a 25 per cent cut in travel times between Dubbo and Sydney via Bathurst.
He said improving rail services outside Sydney was a key area for spending some of the $4.2 billion the NSW Government has available after it sold its share of the Snowy Hydro scheme to the Federal Government.
“We want to see fast rail and safer rail and that could be an upgrade of regional rail lines and new corridors,” he said in an ABC radio interview last week.
“You can knock 25 per cent off that trip [Dubbo-Sydney via Bathurst] by a number of realignments, investing in the rail network. The Central West is important.
“Part of the big problem is the alignment of the rail lines, the tracks themselves; they need realignment, straightening, new technology.”
With the Bathurst-Sydney trip currently taking around three hours and 40 minutes, a 25 per cent improvement would bring the trip well under three hours.
While Mr Barilaro singled out the Sydney-Canberra rail line for upgrading, he said the government would look at other areas.
“They are all important corridors,” he said.
Rail Action Bathurst wrote to NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance last year seeking funding for a study into a realignment of the track between Bathurst and Lithgow to reduce travel times.
Rail Action Bathurst chairman John Hollis said the original train line between Tarana and Rydal had been straighter, but its gradient was too steep for bigger goods trains and the line was adjusted.
He said the group hoped to see the line straightened again to improve travel times, though he acknowledged it would be a long-term project.
“We have written to the minister asking him to allocate a budget for a study into the most cost-effective and technical way to streamline the alignment between Lithgow and Bathurst,” he said.