BY KENJI SATO
The NSW Government’s revised plans for a Sydney Metro have drawn criticism for being privately run and not integrated with existing transport.
On November 16, the government announced a proposal to alter the plans for the Sydney Metro by extending it a further 17 kilometres into Liverpool.
This would change the current plans to terminate the line in Bankstown.
The Sydney Metro will be privately operated by Hong Kong railway company Mass Transit Railway, and will run separately from the existing public train network.
NSW Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi slammed the proposed metro extension, labelling it as an attempt by the state government to push a ‘privatisation agenda’.
“The NSW Government is steamrolling ahead with its unscrutinised, ill-conceived agenda to rip up our public rail network and replace it with a privately-operated metro,” she said.
“The government should be investing in improving the existing network in Western Sydney to reduce travel times, increase frequency and accessibility, while keeping the network in public hands.”
EcoTransit Sydney spokesperson and rail expert, Colin Schroeder, told City Hub that the Sydney Metro’s extended length and small capacity would make it inefficient and uneconomic.
“The Sydney Metro is not a true metro. It’s more an underground railway with limited capacity because it’s stuck to a single deck,” Mr Schroeder said.
“The tunnels have been deliberately drilled at a diameter to prevent double decker trains from operating in the future, so you can never increase the capacity of the line, and that is a very political act.”
Mr Schroeder told City Hub that the Sydney Metro project was a ‘political’ project, designed to increase the population density in Western Sydney.
“Along with the planned extension from Bankstown to Liverpool, the State Government is talking about rezoning those areas for high-density apartment living,” he said.
He said that because the metro system would create high density hubs around new stations, the government was effectively providing infrastructure just for planned high density development.
He said existing populations in Western Sydney would continue to use their cars for commuting.
“It’s not a matter of getting people off the roads and reducing transit times. Their plan is to create more people to feed into their mass transit system, and that doesn’t help the problem of road congestion.”
But Chris Brown, the CEO of property developer advocacy group Urban Taskforce, welcomed the announcement, and said that the extension would be good for the people of Western Sydney.
“Liverpool is growing fast and a better rail connection to the Sydney CBD will be an excellent driver of further development in Liverpool,” Mr Brown said.
“If the connection to Liverpool is in a new line, development potential around new stations must be considered as part of the feasibility.”
Liberal Liverpool Mayor Ned Mannoun, who has long been calling on the state government to extend the metro line to Liverpool, also welcomed the announcement.
“This is a great decision for the people of Liverpool and the Great South West of Sydney,” he said.
“It will cut travel times to the CBD and reduce crowding on the existing T2 South Line. People need quicker services, we need to get cars off the road and this is the best way to do it.”