In the midst of yet another closure of the South Coast Line due to weather events, the region’s peak business advocacy group, Business Illawarra, has today called on both parties of government to respond to its key election platform priority on rail.
The election priority, put forward as part of the group’s 2023 State Election Platform, launched at the end of last year, was:
$10 million is required to fund a Southern Rail Network Resilience Plan that includes the full consideration of the delivery of the South West Sydney Illawarra Rail Link.
Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth said that the constant outages to the region’s only rail link to Greater Sydney, this time caused by a one-day rain event, cannot continue and was a major issue for businesses heading into the March 25 election.
“The region deserves better than this and we have proposed a rail network resilience plan as an important stepping stone to fixing our antiquated rail links.”
“When we have these interruptions on our rail line, the impact on commuters is significant which reverberates not just in our community but has implications for the economy of greater Sydney.”
“The issues facing major businesses transporting freight however have far greater economic consequences for the state, as well as for the companies involved and the supply chains they support, who have to wear significant costs to pivot to road transport or face the delayed transportation of goods.”
Major industry stakeholders in Illawarra, including NSW Ports and the nation’s primary steel manufacturer BlueScope, have for a long time been working with Business Illawarra to achieve the required rail network improvements to help the regional economy prosper.
“It is not only the individual businesses that are impacted by these disruptions. Our economy will be hampered in attracting further investment until greater rail certainty is provided. At a national level, we know that supply chain constraints are a major contributor to the inflation crisis that Australia is confronting right now which is why rail network issues of this nature needs the attention of all levels of government.”
“To unleash the capacity of Port Kembla, with all the opportunities it has in front of it in manufacturing, international trading and clean energy, a plan is needed immediately to connect us with certainty to not only Sydney but to the growing economy of Western Sydney as well,” Mr Zarth said.