The NSW Greens have slammed reported plans by the state government to build a new privatised western Metro train line from the city centre to Parramatta.
Commenting on a September 1 Sydney Morning Herald report that planning is under way for a new rail line between the CBD, the Bays Precinct around Rozelle and Parramatta, with possible future extensions to Maroubra in the south-east and Badgerys Creek airport in the west, Greens NSW transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi asked, “Will this government ever understand what good integrated transport planning looks like?”
She continued: “This privatisation agenda is evident in the haphazard line by line and disjointed planning of their signature infrastructure project — the Sydney Metro. First it was the North-West rail link, then the plan to build over the Bankstown line and now a new line on the map.
“The New South Wales Liberal/National government has announced yet another metro project, which could mean up to three different private companies running different lines, all at the public's expense.
“No one denies that we urgently need investment in upgrading and expanding a network that the vast majority of [Sydney's] people currently use and will continue to use into the future. But this should be publicly owned and operated."
The experience of Britain, which sold off its railway network to a number of private corporations, and suffered transport chaos and rising fares afterwards, should be a salutary lesson not to go down that path.
The example of Melbourne, which sold off its urban train system to a single business operator, and has experienced a disastrous decline in service as a result, should also be a warning to the public to refuse to allow the sell-off of the state's railways to big corporations.
Reports also suggest that the new western Metro heavy rail line may come at the expense of sections of the proposed light rail network, construction of which was due to start in 2018.
Commentators from Sydney's western suburbs have rejected any plan to replace light rail with a Metro line, saying the region urgently needs both, because of the heavy congestion on existing public transport infrastructure.