NSW Department of Planning and Environment

The Central West and Orana’s freight and transport connections extend to Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Broken Hill and Adelaide. These connections converge at a number of locations – including Dubbo, Parkes and Gilgandra – providing a significant competitive advantage to maximise economic growth and productivity.

The Central West and Orana is a major exporter of beef, lamb, grain, cotton, raw minerals and metals, manufactured foods, beverages and other value-added produce. These sectors rely on efficient freight and transport infrastructure networks to move products to external markets and ports.

Freight volumes across NSW are projected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050,20 and a large portion of this growth will occur in the Central West and Orana. This presents a strong case to substantially enhance the quality, capacity and efficiency of freight, transport and utility infrastructure to facilitate freight movements through the region and to connect local producers and suppliers with better networks.

Maximising productivity and reducing freight and transport costs will spur economic growth across the Central West and Orana. The efficiency of the road network, along with the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, will continue to influence economic potential, requiring a comprehensive whole-of-government response.

Future transport

To help align land use and infrastructure planning Transport for NSW is developing the  Future Transport Strategy. Future Transport will be undertaking a comprehensive engagement of the community and industry across NSW.

There is an aim to focus the first stage of this engagement on rural and regional NSW with a combination of activities partnering with local entities and events across a sample of coastal, inland and remote locations covering regional cities, centres and towns. This engagement will take place in the middle of 2017.

central west and orana regional plan goal 2 regional freight movement 400x517

Direction 18: Improve freight connections to markets and global gateways 

Improving the capacity and efficiency of freight connections to ports and metropolitan cities will unlock access to growing consumer markets.

Growth in containerised freight of grain and mining products may trigger new infrastructure investment in the Central West and Orana. Dubbo will remain a major site of activity for outbound containerised freight, followed by the Narromine and Bathurst Regional local government areas. Clustering of inbound containerised freight is also forecast to increase in the Mid-Western Regional and Lithgow local government areas.21 

The forecast increase in freight volumes could result in opportunities for new intermodal terminals and supporting rail infrastructure.22 Transport for NSW will develop a set of criteria to assess the value creation and network capacity enhancement of regional intermodal and cargo handling facilities.

Inter-regional transport connections

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Connections to the east coast

The Great Western Highway and the Main Western Rail Line over the Blue Mountains provide freight connections to ports in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, and will provide access to the new Western Sydney Airport and its associated aviation and freight facilities.

Potential network improvements along these freight corridors will help improve efficiency and remove heavy vehicle access restrictions, reducing freight costs and freight movement timeframes.

The Bells Line of Road and Golden Highway offer alternative freight connections to ports in Sydney and Newcastle respectively. Upgrades to these corridors could help to improve efficiency and access over the Blue Mountains.

Transport for NSW is committed to delivering additional rail network capacity west of Lithgow through new and longer crossing loops and new signalling. The NSW Government has commenced work on Main Western Rail Line capacity enhancements.

Where sustainable freight demand exists, non-operational railway lines, such as the line between Blayney and Demondrille, could also be brought back into operation to improve rail connections.

North and south connections 

An upgraded Newell Highway and the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail could reshape freight movements to ports in Brisbane and Melbourne.

The 2010 Melbourne–Brisbane Inland Rail Alignment Study, prepared by the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), identified the preferred corridor for inland rail would pass through Parkes and Narromine.23 The fine-scale alignment of the corridor is yet to be settled, and planning, engineering design and assessment will be finalised by the Australian Government and ARTC. The NSW Government will work with councils and the Australian Government during this period.

The opening of new international flights from Canberra Airport to Singapore has also created new opportunities to export products into Asia.

To leverage these opportunities, new freight and logistics hubs and intermodals must be close to road and rail corridors. Private sector investment in intermodal terminals is already moving freight more efficiently and competitively. Ensuring a supply of industrial land, particularly in regional cities and strategic centres, will support these new freight and logistics hubs.

National Logistics Hub, Parkes

The National Logistics Hub at Parkes sits at the intersection of the Sydney–Adelaide rail line between Broken Hill and the Newell Highway, which connects to Melbourne and Brisbane. It is located to take advantage of the proposed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail. It is the only intermodal hub in NSW that facilitates double stacking of containers to Perth.


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Fletcher International Exports intermodal terminal, Dubbo

The Fletcher Grain and Intermodal Freight Terminal services the movement of containerised agricultural commodities, mining commodities and sheep meat products from Dubbo to Port Botany. The terminal represents a significant private investment for regional producers, alleviating freight access and interface issues with the former intermodal terminal in Dubbo.


18.1 Enhance the operation of freight and logistics facilities by limiting the encroachment of incompatible and sensitive land uses in local environmental plans.

18.2 Strengthen and leverage inter-regional connections to support economic growth.

18.3 Enhance the efficiency of national transport corridors and protect them from inappropriate surrounding land uses.

18.4 Facilitate the ongoing performance of existing freight and logistics facilities, particularly those in regional cities and strategic centres.

18.5 Locate freight and logistics facilities to capitalise on connections to external markets, maximise the use of existing infrastructure and support future industrial development.

18.6 Work with stakeholders to upgrade transport network capacity as demand changes.

18.7 Work with the Australian Government and local councils as the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail progresses.

Direction 19: Enhance road and rail freight links 

More than 16.8 million tonnes of freight is moved through the Central West and Orana to and from ports each year by road or rail.24 Much of this freight travels on local and regional roads, some of which are failing under the pressure of freight movements, or limit the ability to move freight due to their condition or alignment.

Transport for NSW administers two coordinated programs directly addressing this issue:

  • Fixing Country Rail removes productivity and efficiency constraints on the regional rail network; and
  • Fixing Country Roads targets funding to local councils for road projects that will eliminate connectivity constraints on local roads in NSW.

The Central NSW Councils (CENTROC) and Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) have identified local and regional road pressure points. Transport for NSW will use this information to work with councils to define a freight network that includes key national, State, regional and local roads and the rail network in the Central West and Orana. This will prioritise freight network improvement projects to provide the greatest benefit, and improve coordination between all levels of government and stakeholders.

Heavy vehicle access, bridge crossings and traffic access during flood events in towns and city centres is a widespread issue, particularly in Forbes, Parkes, Dubbo, Bathurst and Coonabarabran. Councils and agencies will consider the viability of bypasses to improve freight efficiency, reduce travel times and costs, improve safety for road users and improve the attractiveness of towns and cities. Potential bypass corridors will be safeguarded in local planning.

Potential freight network improvements

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19.1 Build on existing work to identify the regional freight network, including key national, State, regional and local roads and the rail network.

19.2 Prioritise projects that address impediments to the regional freight network.

19.3 Identify, coordinate and prioritise local and regional road projects that will strengthen the regional freight network.

19.4 Assess the viability of bypasses and identify and safeguard future bypass corridors in local land use strategies.

19.5 Identify existing and proposed freight and transport corridors in local land use strategies to minimise the encroachment of incompatible land uses.

Direction 20: Enhance access to air travel and public transport

The ongoing operation and expansion of air travel and related facilities is essential to regional economic growth.25 Maintaining 20 per cent of flight slots at Sydney Airport for regional NSW services is critical in supporting business and providing access for regional communities and fly-in fly-out workers.

Large commuter airports at Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Mudgee and Parkes also cater for chartered flights for fly-in fly-out workers.26 Other airport and aerodrome facilities provide aviation bases for agricultural services, private operators and recreational gliding. Airport and aerodrome facilities also support the Royal Flying Doctor Service medivac and NSW Rural Fire Service operations based in Dubbo.

Airport operations should not be impeded by the encroachment of incompatible development. Potential airport expansions will be considered in local land use strategies.

Public and community transport services connect people to jobs, housing, health care and education within the region, and to metropolitan cities. Transport for NSW will work with bus operators to develop routes and timetables to improve bus services to, from and within the cities and centres. Transport for NSW will also develop programs that serve the unique needs of each town through other transport initiatives.


20.1 Identify development opportunities for appropriate and complementary land uses and limit the encroachment of incompatible development around Bathurst, Orange, Dubbo, Mudgee and Parkes airports.

20.2 Support the continued allocation of

20 per cent of flight slots at Sydney Airport to regional NSW services and seek a greater allocation in peak periods.

20.3 Work with local transport operators and community transport providers to investigate delivery models for flexible transport and determine what works best for different areas.

20.4 Investigate opportunities and prepare strategies to improve transport links between the region’s towns and villages, and its regional cities and strategic centres.

Direction 21: Coordinate utility infrastructure investment

New development should be located to take advantage of existing or planned water, wastewater, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. The design of infrastructure should accommodate, whenever possible, the capacity for cost-effective expansion to maximise the efficient use of land, reduce costs and limit environmental impacts.

Detailed infrastructure service planning should be undertaken for new major urban releases to establish whether land can be feasibly and cost-effectively serviced.

Current funding and servicing models for utility infrastructure do not provide the flexibility or support for new industries with high energy or water needs. New models for utility infrastructure (such as cost-sharing between industries) will support and stimulate growth in agribusiness and value-added manufacturing industries, as well as other development.

Water supply deficiencies of more than 50 per cent by 2036 are forecast in Mid-Western Regional, Dubbo Regional, Parkes, Bogan and Warren local government areas.27 New water security projects and water management initiatives, such as stormwater harvesting and innovative water management approaches, are currently being employed to improve water security.

The challenge of providing cost-effective extensions and upgrades of utilities to some remote areas creates opportunities for stand-alone alternative energy generation such as renewable wind and solar energy generation.

While there is sufficient landfill capacity to manage forecast waste, higher demand for waste and resource recovery management facilities may require improvements in regional waste management practices.

Improved communications infrastructure will grow the economy, increase job opportunities, deliver online health and education programs, and satisfy resident’s daily communication needs. Some areas experience unreliable telecommunications including mobile phone black spots and delays in the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

To support this, a fibre-ready, pit and pipe network that allows for the installation of Fibre to the Home (FTTH) broadband services will be considered in local infrastructure planning. Areas not identified in the NBN rollout will need alternative access arrangements.


21.1 Work with Mid-Western Regional, Dubbo Regional, Parkes, Bogan and Warren councils to address water supply deficiencies and secure future town water supplies.

21.2 Work with stakeholders and infrastructure providers to investigate new funding models for utility infrastructure.

21.3 Monitor development and ensure that infrastructure is responsive to investment opportunities.

Page last updated: 28/07/2022