Infrastructure Australia has approved plans to modernise one of the busiest passenger rail routes in Adelaide, improving safety, efficiency and sustainability.

The Gawler Rail Line Electrification and Modernisation Project is now listed as a priority project on the Infrastructure Priority List, the authoritative list of nationally-significant investments Australia needs over the next 15 years.

The project involves electrifying the Gawler rail line, replacing the diesel fleet with electric train cars, replacing signalling equipment and systems and upgrading 20 stations on the line.

Infrastructure Australia Acting Chief Executive, Anna Chau, said the organisation found there would be substantial merit in electrifying and modernising one of Adelaide’s busiest passenger rail routes.

“The upgrades proposed as part of the Gawler Rail Line Electrification and Modernisation Project would improve journey times for commuters and enable more train services between the CBD and Adelaide’s fast-growing northern suburbs,” Ms Chau said.

“The majority of the population growth projected for Greater Metropolitan Adelaide to 2061 will occur in Adelaide’s northern suburbs along the Gawler rail line, which is also a critical link between the CBD and regional centres of Mawson Lakes, Salisbury, Elizabeth and Gawler.

“The 2015 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that due to ongoing population growth in northern Adelaide, the number of commuters travelling on the Gawler line would almost double by 2031 – meaning the rail line could reach capacity within five to ten years.

“The current diesel fleet limits opportunities to increase train frequencies or improve performance, which is why we consider modernising the Gawler rail line to be an issue of national significance that should be addressed in the near-term.

Ms Chau said the proposed upgrades to the Gawler rail line will also support the South Australian Government’s 30-Year “Living Adelaide” plan, which aims to increase residential densities in key locations such as those adjacent to the Gawler rail line.

“By providing convenient and efficient access to jobs and services, the project could help deliver a more sustainable increase in residential densities along the corridor.

“There are also significant environmental benefits in replacing high polluting diesel motor units with electric motor units along the rail line, as this will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as noise and vibration,” Ms Chau said.

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