For people who live in regional NSW, transport is about so much more than just getting from A to B. It’s about social connection, jobs, prosperity and creating links to health, education and other vital services. We know one size doesn’t fit all in regional NSW. Getting transport right to meet the varied needs of customers living across the state is the role of our new Regional and Outer Metropolitan division.

What we want for regional NSW is a world class transport network that supports local communities to reach their full lifestyle, tourism and economic potential whether they live in Newcastle or Nyngan, Bourke or Ballina.

So, like our Future Transport vision, it’s about shifting the focus from long distance road or rail journeys to and from Sydney to creating better connections between towns and regional centres.

That also means taking a more flexible approach to public transport and making journeys faster, easier and safer for customers. That could be by adding a new bus service, providing better connections between modes or providing on-demand services to link up the existing system and give people more choice.

Acting Deputy Secretary of the new division, Matt Fuller, said coming together to plan, prioritise and work will not only bring together different thinking and expertise, it will also mean we can do more, better and sooner.

“It’s a win for regional NSW and not just where our big projects and initiatives are concerned.

“Our smaller initiatives also win and it is often the small things that have the greatest impact on people’s lives — helping a customer onto a train, finishing roadworks a few days ahead of schedule or simply making it easier for people to travel around their community. These things really matter,” Matt said.

New ways of working

Out in western NSW we’re already thinking and doing things differently with the Connecting the Central West and Orana program.

This program is the first collaboration of its type between teams across the Transport cluster, working together with other parts of government, local councils and the community to improve how people and freight move around the region regardless of whether that’s by road, rail or air.

Luke Homann, who heads up the program, said developing integrated regional transport plans is part of the picture but it’s also about making immediate changes to benefit customers and communities.

“Something as simple as holding workshops between different areas of the Transport cluster and regional stakeholders has allowed us to see what we can do now and together to make transport better for Central West and Orana customers. It’s taking a ‘place’ or community based approach rather than an individual agency or transport mode approach.

“For example, we’re talking with NSW Health about how we could line up our public transport timetables with things like hospital clinic operating hours and shift schedules so it’s easier for people to get medical care.

“We’re even looking at how we could use public transport for inter-hospital patient transfers to reduce the use of ambulances and what new services we need to connect remote and disadvantaged customers with health services,” Luke said.

Information is everything

Another quick win has been a new partnership between the Regional Operations team and NSW TrainLink to keep Central West coach customers better informed of potential disruptions and delays.

Joshua Parkin, a road planner based in Parkes, is pleased to be able to play a role in giving regional customers the same kind of information that Sydney public transport customers now take for granted.

“Keeping NSW TrainLink operation centres up to date on roadwork and drawing on information from the SES about emergency situations like snow and ice, means they can let customers know what the impact will be on travel times.

“Real time information about incidents is also important. Recently we were able to redirect a coach travelling between Parkes and Orange to avoid an incident, and that meant customers still made their connections at Orange Station. We’re also working with local councils to reflect regional and local road incidents on the NSW Live Traffic webpage.

“Looking to the future, we’re thinking about how we can plan our long term road upgrade program to line up with potential new coach service routes and also support the future development of regional places,” Joshua said.

Freight forward

You can’t think about regional NSW without thinking about freight. Moving goods between regions and local and international markets is the backbone of local economies and demand is only expected to increase in the coming years.

Inland Rail, which is planned to be operational by 2025, will be a game changer for the regional freight network — making it possible for freight trains to get from Melbourne to Brisbane via regional NSW in just 24 hours.

Parkes in the Central West and Orana region is set to become one of the most important places on the Inland Rail route — it will be a future hub for business and economic development.

To make sure transport is ready, freight, transport planning and regional teams are planning right now. They’re working out what transport links and services will be needed to create an efficient transport and logistics hub at Parkes, one that will support the regional communities and the local economy. It’s all about considering what it means for road, rail, air, passenger and freight services right across the region.

Imagine the difference we could make if we take this place and community based approach right across NSW. And imagine what it will do for communities and places across Sydney.

Our new operating model offers so many exciting opportunities for us to work together so we can really deliver better customer and community outcomes, right across urban and regional areas.

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