Posts Tagged ‘port augusta’

Why South Australia should be reinstating regional rail

January 6, 2012

Few states in any country in the world are as close to being entirely based on one major urban area as South Australia is – the focus being on its capital, Adelaide. More than three quarters of South Australia’s population is based within Greater Adelaide. Everything that seems to happen in South Australia seems to be in Adelaide, at least from a development point of view, and even then Adelaide is one of the slowest growing major cities in Australia.

But this may well be about to change to some degree. With the anticipated mining boom set to begin within the next few years subject to certain approvals, towns such as Port Augusta and Whyalla in the state’s Northern region are set to grow and benefit from the spinoffs to industry that are expected to expand or relocate to these centres. And it’s more than reasonable to expect that the amount of traffic along the Princes Highway between Adelaide and these towns will grow as well.

On another point, there’s a lot of visible investment starting to take place in electrifying, upgrading and expanding the metropolitan rail network around Adelaide, a great thing of course. But look regional, and other than the odd Great Southern Railway service to Perth, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne there’s no proper regional rail service between Adelaide and South Australia’s other major regional centres.

At one stage several decades ago there was a regional rail network around South Australia with Adelaide at the centre of the network. It has all but disappeared, however and Adelaide Station now only serves suburban rail.

The rail infrastructure between Adelaide and the towns of Port Augusta and Whyalla is almost complete as it is currently. However, a few upgrades to stations along the route are required, and several passing loops instated. At Adelaide Station, standard gauge tracks would need to be installed. A new service, let’s call it the Northerner, would be a daily service in each direction to and from Adelaide with stops at Salisbury, Virginia, Snowtown, Crystal Brook, Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

This rail service, The Northerner, would collectively serve an area with approximately 60,000 people and provide an end to end service taking under five hours while taking some traffic off the highways. It will also assists commuters who are unable to drive to commute to and from Adelaide. Over time this population is expected to grow significantly, particularly around Port Augusta and Whyalla.

It’s time for Adelaideans to realise that not everything in South Australia is about Adelaide.