A Very Fast Train project is on the table as the NSW Government moves to make “generational” investments with the windfall from the Snowy Hydro buy-out.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the fast train project from Canberra to Sydney was one of the big investments that could come out of the more than $4 billion in Snowy funds.
Any such rail project would be done in a partnership deal, Mr Barilaro told The Land.
The fast train project has been on the drawing board for many years, and the government has been warned to buy up land for the rail line before land prices make it unfeasible. There have been several fast speed train proposals for Canberra to Sydney, but none have ever moved beyond the study phase. The ACT Government favours just upgrading the existing rail line so that travel time to Sydney was reduced to about three hours.
“A very fast train from Canberra to Sydney has to be considered,” Mr Barilaro said. “It could be something like that in a partnership. What we need with this money is a vision for the next 100 years.”
Mr Barilaro promised to only fund “generational infrastructure” from the Snowy pot of gold.
The NSW Government promised to protect the “unexpected windfall” from the Federal buy-out of the state’s share of Snowy Hydro.
The government would also look at water security. Raising the level of Burrinjuck Dam was also a possibility.
Mr Barilaro so far is calling it the Snowy Legacy Fund, to honour the fact the funds have come out of the Snowy Hydro scheme, and confirmed that some of the projects would have a southern bias as this was where the legacy of Snowy Hydro existed.
Water security projects were also high on the agenda. Mr Barklaro promised the funds would “not be squandered”, and would honour the legacy of the Snowy scheme.
“I will make sure the funds are focused in the southern part of the state, but there will also be a bit beyond that. We are going to legislate these funds and the majority will be spent on generational new infrastructure.” Even other pumped hydro schemes similar to the proposed Snowy 2.0 scheme would also be looked at.
Councils are lining up an infrastructure wish-list to put to Regional NSW Minister John Barilaro, with the backlog of infrastructure maintenance high on their list.
The Government has promised extensive negotiations with councils and local communities before any money is allocated. Water security and improved regional roads was high on the list for many councils.
One major plan touted is to raise the level of Burrinjuck dam to give more water security on to townships down the Murrumbidgee and reduce flood risks.
Wagga Wagga City mayor Greg Conkey said his council needed at least $120m to bring infrastructure up to speed, including for roads, parks and water supplies. Wagga was experiencing huge growth but the council was under pressure to make sure roads and bypasses and internodal hubs helped industry move ahead.
“The backlog of infrastructure maintenance is a major issue and we would make that a big priority,” he said.
He said raising Burrinjuck Dam wall would be a positive move, but expected that to be a massive cost. The dam wall was only strengthened about eight years ago.
Cootamundra-Gundagai mayor Abb McAlister said bringing industry and creating more jobs was the primary focus for his council, as was improving the road network