NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has denied the latest move to link Sydney and Canberra via high-speed rail is an election stunt.
The premier on Tuesday said NSW would develop a fast-rail plan focused on regional centres including Newcastle and Bathurst - not the long-talked-about east-coast line between Melbourne and Brisbane.
Ms Berejiklian said she was not going to wait for other states and the federal government and that NSW would start the process.
An expert panel chaired by a British rail infrastructure expert will advise on the options available for a fast rail network across four potential routes.
These are a northern line to Newcastle via Gosford, a southwest line to Canberra via Goulburn, a south coast line to Nowra via Wollongong and a western line to Orange via Bathurst and Lithgow.
Work will start by 2023 with an eye on upgrading existing rail corridors before building new lines.
The premier denied her $4.6 million fast-rail panel was an election stunt.
No Australian passenger train has ever exceeded 215km/h and most lines' top speed is 160km/h.
But the coalition government says travel times to Goulburn (170km from Sydney) and Canberra (250km from Sydney) could be cut down to just 30 minutes and one hour respectively if planned routes are delivered.
In August, the NSW Labor opposition and ACT's Labor government promised $10 million for a feasibility study in 2019 on Sydney-Canberra rail.
Sydney to Canberra was the suggested, $23 billion first step of now-defunct federal High Speed Rail Advisory Group's east-coast rail line.