Muswellbrook residents pinpoint ‘issues’ during Future Transport Van stopover

PLANNING AHEAD: Future Transport 2056 community engagement officers Nadeena Whitby and Maddison Richards at Muswellbrook on Thursday.
PLANNING AHEAD: Future Transport 2056 community engagement officers Nadeena Whitby and Maddison Richards at Muswellbrook on Thursday.

CUSTOMER-focused, technology-driven services with better regional connections will become the future of the NSW Transport system, with a new draft 40-year blueprint unveiled.

Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey and Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance released the Future Transport 2056 draft regional strategy, which outlines improvements to the network over the coming decades.

And, Muswellbrook residents aired their concerns during the Future Transport Van’s visit to town on Thursday.

“Some of the initiatives identified in the shire included the development of Key Precinct Access Plans for various destinations across greater Newcastle to improve travel choices; improvements to transport interchanges; working with councils and key stakeholders to develop and deliver walking and cycling infrastructure and end of trip facilities to encourage sustainable travel choices; and New England Highway improvements,” a spokesperson said.

Better regional inter-connectivity, enhanced East-West links and easier access to ports and other facilities will be an important focus, along with improving safety, reliability, efficiency and integrating services.

Mrs Pavey said freight was also a vital part of this plan with predictions it would double across metropolitan areas and increase 25 per cent regionally by 2056.

“That’s a big number and an even bigger task to manage these increases safely, especially with the regional population expected to top 3.6 million over the same period,” she explained.

“Some of this will be managed through technology driven improvements, but a lot of it will be through offering customers safe and reliable choices.

“We want to grow the industry as a whole and give people new and different travel options, not even dreamt of a decade ago.”

Some of the transport projects identified for investigation for regional NSW include:

* Light rail/mass transit connections to Tweed Heads and Queanbeyan;

* Extensions of the electric rail network into Bathurst, Goulburn Telarah and Bombaderry;

* Upgrading and sealing major roads like the Kidman Way, Barrier Highway, New England Highway, Sturt Highway among others;

* Better connections between regional communities with larger centres, such as the expansion of a booked bus service trial currently underway between Tottenham, Albert and Dubbo;

* Express bus trial to better link Lennox Head, Ballina and Lismore;

* Continuing the Fixing Country Rail program which will look at line reactivations where there is the potential for significant freight demand; and

* Better East-West Connectivity and port access, including the Maldon to Dombarton link to meet future port demands.

Mr Constance said the state was undergoing a once in a lifetime transformation, but we could not pack our bags and stop thinking about what the future looks like.

“Five years ago, we provided a blueprint about what transport would begin to look like over the next 20 years,” he said.

“With most of those projects either being built now or in planning, it is time to refresh the blueprint given what we’ve achieved.

“This time we’re looking at what’s possible over the next 40 years, not 20.”

Future Transport 2056 is a comprehensive strategy to ensure the way we travel is more personal, integrated, accessible, safe, reliable and sustainable.

There are three parts to the strategy; programs that are committed to or funded by the NSW Government over the next 10 years; projects that are under investigation; and visionary projects in the 20-year plus timeframe that are being identified now for future consideration as the population grows.

The draft Future Transport 2056 strategy will be open for comment until December 3.

To view the strategy, go to future.transport.nsw.gov.au