A transport expert has backed Wagga's inclusion in any top 10 group of regional cities on the condition that rail services are improved.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott last week called for the federal government to focus on ten regional cities to support business and employment growth.
Professor Rico Merkert from the University of Sydney Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies told The Daily Advertiser that Wagga should be included due to its strategic location but the city needed faster passenger rail links.
"If (the state government) can get these very fast rail projects off the ground, there would be a very good case for Wagga via Goulburn to upgrade the line to 200 kilometres per hour," he said.
However, Professor Merkert said Wagga might struggle to gain a spot on the NSW government's 'Fast Rail Network Strategy', which is exploring how to deliver passenger rail speeds above 250 kilometres per hour.
Wagga City Council has lobbied for the region to be included in a fast rail study, which is currently looking at routes to Orange and Canberra but not Wagga.
"I don't think even the Orange route would be implemented, to be honest," he said.
"With the infrastructure cost for that track, there needs to be demand. Given the air and roads links, it's fairly difficult to be competitive as a passenger train in that area."
Professor Merkert said Wagga's transport connections would improve due to the federal Inland Rail upgrade project, which has a section from Albury to Illabo via Wagga.
"Taking freight off trucks and putting it on trains would make the roads safer and more pleasant for passenger cars," he said.
Ms Westacott the National Press Club last Tuesday that the federal government should focus on 'places' and not just 'projects' to reduce regional inequality "to take the pressure off" capital cities.
Mariam Rehman, the founder of The cre8tive co. branding and advertising agency in Wagga, who has been campaigning for better passenger rail services, welcomed Professor Merkert's comments.
"That's why I started the discussion; it's not just about making people comfortable...its' to encourage growth and investment," she said.
"How is that going to happen if we don't increase the efficiency of our transport?"
Ms Rehman said Wagga could not afford to wait until the state government started upgrading its XPT carriages from 2023.
"We have to act now ... it's beneficial for both (Wagga and the XPT) because there are going to be more people who want to use the service," she said.