Rail plans a pale promise
- Su-Lin Tan
- Thursday, 13 September 2012
The NSW Government has promised to modernise Greater Sydney’s rail network by boosting rail capacity with mass transit services in the latest Draft NSW Transport Master Plan.
The mass rapid transit system will mean customers can simply turn up at the station and expect to get on a train within a short time. Many of the world’s most populous cities have adopted this rail model, including Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.
But the NSW Opposition is concerned the promise won’t be upheld.
“Rapid trains are little more than a pipedream in the plan,” Shadow Minister for Transport, Penny Sharpe said. “There is not one new dollar of funding.
“The introduction starts with the North West Rail Link, which has gone from a direct route to the city to a shuttle service to
Transport planning experts have argued the plan is less about congestion reduction through rail transformation, and more about creating more cars on roads. Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies Associate Professor, Stephen Greaves said: “Looking at the plan, it looks like its focus is for motorways to be widened.
“The only way such an ambitious transport plan can be delivered is [through] the existence of funding and a concrete timeline for completion. The plan does not indicate this clearly.”
The rail development plan proposed by the NSW Government usually takes a period of 15-20 years.
“With the State Government changing every 2-3 years means nothing really gets done,” Mr Greaves said. “The rail issue is really a political issue.
“NSW requires a unilateral political world for a big project like mass rapid to work.”
Before the government can embark on the proposed mass rapid rail system, the issue of the previously promised light rail system in Sydney CBD needs to be addressed,” Ms Sharpe said.
“The Master Plan reduces an election promise to a maybe. More feasibility studies and no funding allocated make light rail for Sydney CBD a long way off.”
A spokesperson for City of Sydney Council concurred: “The City has been lobbying for light rail but it is up to the State Government to deliver it as they are responsible for transport.”
The age of the current rail rolling stock could also be a deterrent for implementing a state of the art mass rapid system, said Mr Greaves.
“Our rail cars resemble a little more like the trams in San Francisco,” he said. “They have become part of the furniture now. We need to update them before we can move to modernise our rail system.”
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