AUSTRALIA’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), is set to go it alone on higher and high-speed rail projects rather than wait for the federal government and other states to reach a consensus.

NSW premier Ms Gladys Berejiklian says the state will look at selling off state assets, or “asset recycling” as she calls it, to finance the rail investment.

Berejiklian outlined her plan to reduce travel times between Sydney and regional NSW centres at an infrastructure summit organised by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Rail links with speeds of 250km/h and less than 200km/h would be constructed between Sydney and Newcastle, the Central Coast, Goulburn and Nowra under a plan the NSW government is considering, The premier cited travel times between Sydney and Gosford of 25 minutes (currently 1h 18min), Sydney to Goulburn in under an hour (currently 2h 3min) and Sydney to Newcastle in less than an hour (currently 2h 45min).

“NSW is poised to enter a new golden age of infrastructure delivery,” she said. “You’ve got to not only think about the current generation of projects but the next generation of projects.”

The premier said NSW could not wait for other states and governments to agree on a broader major city-connecting rail scheme. “We would, but in the past when we’ve tried to have those conversations - as you’ve seen during Covid - getting the states and jurisdictions to agree on anything is a challenge,” she said.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) released its Faster Rail Report in February, prepared by Arup, which outlined a series of proposals to implement faster services on the Australian rail network.