According to an update from the Future Transport Strategy 2056, a 40 year strategy for plans in regional NSW and greater Sydney, Wagga has been recognised as a ‘regional city transport hub’.
Centrally located between Sydney and Melbourne, does Wagga’s transport really fare with the nation’s two major cities? Or, is this reference to a ‘transport hub’ better fit the capacities of trucks and freight?
Brendan Jones lives in Wagga and commutes each week to Sydney for his job as a sales glass manager.
A round trip each week, Mr Jones chose to drive as flights were too expensive and the travel time to Sydney on the train is far too long.
“If it wasn’t for financial reasons, I would choose to fly but there’s no way I could do a proper working day if I commuted to Sydney via the train,” he said.
Mr Jones and his family made the big move to Wagga from Sydney and haven’t looked back.
“A lot of people are leaving cities and moving to outskirts and beyond, it’s not unique, the cost of living and quality of life is much better here than in Sydney,” he said.
Plans for a high-speed rail is a long-term concept for closing the distance gap between Wagga and the major cities, like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
When asked about whether the high-speed rail would be a transport option in the future, Mr Jones didn’t hesitate to jump to the opportunity.
“They’ve been talking about this for 20 years and there’s still no concrete plans, but it would open up so many doors by connecting three major cities to regional towns,” he said.
“I would travel to work everyday and I’d get to spend more time in Wagga with my family and friends.
“It works in the Asian countries, why doesn’t it work here?”
Looking into the options to travel to Sydney and Melbourne from Wagga are quite similar in terms of cost, time and distance; if the date was next Friday, July 27.
Travelling from Wagga to Sydney via train costs $57.70 and takes approximately six hours and 36 minutes.
Via a plane the time is significantly less at one hour and 10 minutes, however the price can vary between $199-$300 from REX and QANTAS airlines.
While driving to Sydney may seem as an in-between option, with a commute of four hours and 43 minutes and an average cost for a sedan at $66, wear and tear on the car and loss of productivity are factors to consider.
Travelling south to Melbourne via train costs the same as Sydney, yet saves two hours.
Via plane, the price can vary between $197-$557 on REX and QANTAS airlines.
Melbourne’s car cost and travel time is almost equivalent to Sydney; It would take about four hours and 48 minutes and cost around $65.
A bus service from Wagga is no longer available to either cities.
Committee 4 Wagga CEO Alan Johnston, said this is the first time there has been recognition of Wagga’s RIFL and a fast train route passing through Albury and Wagga in the Future Transport Strategy.
“Since the council and Committee 4 Wagga drafted and submitted back in December 2017, this has been the first time Wagga has been recognised.
“RIFL will have huge implications for Wagga’s rail and train hub, however work still needs to be done to create more cost effective commuter transport,” he said.
“Obviously the fast train is a long-term concept, but the biggest significance has been the inland rail and what it does for RIFL and the transport hub in Bomen, particularly in the freight industry.
“This will attract large manufacturing into Wagga from the capital cities.”
There seems to be pros and cons to what is offered in Sydney and Melbourne, but it might be too soon to call Wagga a ‘regional transport hub’ for commuters.