Commuters sick of waiting for high-speed rail options

Such comparisons are wrong and are comparing apples with oranges
Sydney to Wollongong … is difficult terrain … the others mentioned are largely flat

Q Instead why doesn’t the government stop foreigners buying our domestic housing to increase supply available for genuine Australian buyers needing a home?

Q Perhaps it is the population growth that has contributed to the numbers queued up to get onto the trains … compounding the problem …

And necessitating more stops?

Q Why hasn’t the government introduced the next tranche of anti-money laundering legislation to cover the Real Estate Gatekeepers? OOOps … they were made EXEMPT in October 2018 … by the Scomo Guvmnt!

Q After spending billions on tollways that haven’t solved our commuting difficulties … why do we have to wait to hear from experts to tell us what we already know?

Q How do we ever get ahead of these issues while we are growing our population largely by immigration at far higher rates than can be accommodated?

PERHAPS the Western Sydney rail lines could be looked at … the carriages are packed to the gills! Most standing!

MEANWHILE the Public/Private Scheme is hurtling down the track … that’s what is happening and to hell with the consequences!

Commuters sick of waiting for high-speed rail options

ABC Illawarra By Nick McLaren

14 OCTOBER 2019

Wollongong resident Harris Cheung commutes to Sydney by rail

PHOTO: A return train trip and work in Sydney for Wollongong resident Harris Cheung takes up to 14 hours out of his day. (Justin Huntsdale, ABC Illawarra)

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While most of his neighbours are still sleeping in a suburb south of Wollongong, Harris Cheung is out of bed, preparing for the almost two-hour commute ahead of him.

The train he will catch to work in Sydney takes an hour-and-a-half — the same time it took to travel the route on a steam train in the 1930s.

Mr Cheung moved to Wollongong for family reasons. He hoped the spectacular beaches of the Illawarra would make for a better life.

Instead, he spends up to 14 hours a day working and commuting to bustling North Sydney.

The daily grind

The Australia Talks National Survey found:

  • One in three working Australians say their commute is too long
  • That rises to 40 per cent among Australians with a culturally-diverse background
  • One in three people in the Illawarra federal electorate, Cunningham, say they’d be happier if they spent less time commuting

Use the ABC’s interactive tool to see how you compare on this and other issues.

“It would make life a lot easier if the train trip between Wollongong and Central is less than an hour, which I think is quite doable,” he told the ABC.

Around 35,000 Illawarra residents commute outside the region for work each day, with around 26,000 heading to Sydney, the vast majority making the trip in a private vehicle.

With an average speed of 57 kilometres per hour, the train from Wollongong to Sydney is a slog. The Perth to Mandurah line, by contrast, has an average speed of 85 kilometres per hour, according to transport expert Associate Professor Phillip Laird from the University of Wollongong.Follow this story to get email or text alerts from ABC News when there is a future article following this storyline.Follow this story

Transport the missing link

As more Australians decide to commute daily from locations like the Gold Coast to Brisbane, Geelong to Melbourne, or the Blue Mountains or Central Coast to Sydney, they are finding transport can be a deal breaker.

The Illawarra’s local business chamber has found the Wollongong commute rates poorly against these comparable trips.

Despite promised improvements like new carriages with more room, Mr Cheung remains unimpressed.

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How do you compare?

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“You can have the best trains in the world but if it is as slow as it is now, it doesn’t make any sense at all,” he said.

A recent poll by IRIS Research has found more city dwellers would move to outer suburban and regional areas if strong transport links such as fast rail were in place.

Professor David Henscher from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies said their latest survey asked about the attraction of a one-hour commute.

“There is always this trade-off between housing affordability, residential location and, of course, jobs,” he said.

“And one of the things we are promoting is not just relocating due to improved rail systems and having to commute back, there is also the real possibility of having some decentralised jobs because industry is more prepared to relocate under those conditions.”

He said in locations close to a major city, speeding up trains to 100 or 150 kilometres per hour would be enough to get the job done.

Wollongong Railway Station

PHOTO: Wollongong railway station, to the west of the CBD. (ABC Illawarra: Nick McLaren)

Solutions a long way away

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said a 35 per cent jump in train usage from locations south of Sydney over recent years shows government transport plans are working.

But the long-anticipated wait for new rail alignments or expensive tunnels that would make a real difference to commute times is ongoing.

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“We have a global leading expert in Dr Andrew McNaughton who is looking at fast trains through the Illawarra and down to Nowra and part of that is looking at the alignment of the tracks,” he said.

“We have engaged the best person in the world to give that advice, his report is due by the end of the year and we will go from there.”

The process could stretch out a long way into the future — too long for Mr Cheung.

While he has considered working closer to home, the options in his profession are very limited.

“Every week I check job ads and things like that, in the area of my career,” he said.

“There are maybe five in a year that I could apply for [in Wollongong] but in Sydney there’s five every day.”

The Australia Talks National Survey asked 54,000 Australians about their lives and what keeps them up at night. Use our interactive tool to see the results and how their answers compare with yours.

Then, tune in at 8.30pm on November 18, as the ABC hosts a live TV event with some of Australia’s best-loved celebrities exploring the key findings of the Australia Talks National Survey