Wednesday, 1 October 2014

PERL before SWline

Northern Line
There is no earthly reason for foreign single deck trains to pass under the Harbour and under the CBD. It flows from this that there is no earthly reason for a foreign-owned and operated corporation to convert a taxpayer funded rail line from Epping to Chatswood to its exclusive use.

There is no earthly reason for forcing commuters using the Epping-Hornsby line to change to a foreign single-deck train at Epping then to a double deck train at Chatswood to cross the Harbour Bridge.

There is no earthly reason why a shuttle "North West Metro train service" should not terminate at Epping rather than Chatswood.

In fact there are compelling reasons for  terminating single deck trains at Epping. At Epping commuters have a choice of transferring to a clockwise train to Chatswood, North Sydney and Wynyard or an anticlockwise train through Strathfield, Redfern and Central.

Transferring the Epping-Chatswood rail line to a foreign-owned PPP breaks the loop making it impossible to efficiently turn Northern Line trains around. The Strathfield junction was not designed for grade-separated access to the City Circle lines, which are fully loaded at present, and the lines at Chatswood Station were not designed for trains from the Harbour Bridge to turn back.

Running on empty

During the Presidential election campaign that re-elected George W Bush the Fox Network picked up on a phrase used by a political analyst: "Running on empty". I can't see what relevance the phrase had to the Kerry campaign. If Baird is not sent packing by the NSW electorate on 28th March his legacy will be trams that run on empty to Circular Quay after depositing passengers in Chalmers Street, buses that run on empty to Circular Quay after depositing passengers in Eddy Avenue because all the places in the CBD where it is physically possible for them to turn around have been obliterated by the George Street trams, and trains that run on empty across the Harbour Bridge to Chatswood after depositing passengers at Central Station. The Sydney CBD will have effectively have been rendered inoperable.

So will the Murdoch Press resurrect the phrase during the State election campaign? Don't hold your breath. Climate change deniers stick together no matter what the consequences for human society.

The South West Rail line

Glenfield Station under construction 2012
The South West rail line was exhibited, approved and funded by the previous State government. Stage one for work around Glenfield station was approved in April 2009 and Stage two for extension to Leppington was approved in November 2010 and contracts were awarded to John Holland Group three weeks later. The Abbott government has refused to provide any funding for further extension of the line despite announcing that there will be an airport at Badgery's Creek - a train line will be constructed under the runways but not connected to anything. Baird will not spend a brass razoo of money he hopes to raise from selling electricity distribution assets on the line.

The flyovers at Glenfield Station feed trains into the East Hills line feeding into the Airport Line and into the Great Southern line through Liverpool and Cabramatta stations. If Baird converts the Sydenham to Cabramatta line to carry only foreign single-deck trains the only way for commuters on the SW line to reach destinations north of the Harbour will be to transfer from a Southern Line City Circle service through Granville to a Northern line service at Strathfield. The trains will then continue running on emptied to the City Circle.

This is not what was planned by the sane and rational public servants who prevailed in transport planning prior to the election of the North Shore Rump government.

Historically Sydney had developed a CBD centric transport system but it was long recognised that this placed unsustainable pressure on the City Circle loop. It was the Wran government that built the Marylands-Harris Park rail link between the Southern line and the Western line west of Parramatta. This link predates the Greiner government.

The Parramatta-Chatswood Rail Link

The Parramatta-Chatswood rail line was conceived to allow commuters using the Southern lines to transfer at Parramatta Station to reach destinations north of the Harbour without using trains that pass through Granville, Lidcombe and Strathfield stations and terminate by passing round the City Circle and changing destination to a Illawarra line. For this to happen double-deck trains from the Western line must be able to share use of the Epping-Chatswood line with Northern line trains. There is nothing to be gained from allowing foreign single-deck trains exclusive use of the taxpayer-funded Epping-Chatswood line and there is everything to lose.

Parramatta-Chatswood rail line
If the Bankstown line is handed over to a foreign consortium then ironically the only trains for commuters on the Southern line to reach destinations north of the Harbour will pass through Marylands station but instead of continuing one extra stop to Parramatta Station will have to circle south through six stations to Strathfield station in order to transfer to a Northern line train. The alternative route from Cabramatta to Lidcombe via Regent Park to Strathfield is also forever obliterated.

The Gillard government promised to provide 80% of the funding for the Parramatta-Epping Rail Line PERL on 11th August 2010. The project was costed at $2.6 billion and $2.08 was set aside to fund construction "over 4 years from 2014-2015".

The project was postponed on 29th May 2013 with an announcement from Federal Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese: "Following the NSW government's rejection of this funding the full amount was reallocated to the following program scheduled to begin in 2019-2020.

"This project remains vital to Sydney's future and I would urge the NSW government to reconsider their decision to shelve it."

Ms Berejiklian riposted: "We are getting on with the job of building the north-west rail and south-west rail links, with or without federal funding".

It turns out this requires handing over a taxpayer-funded rail line to a foreign-owned consortium regardless of the cost and selling profitable taxpayers assets ostensively to fund projects that have not been designed or costed. The costs are incalculable.


Baird made a video to garner support for selling urban electricity distribution networks claiming that he would "unlock congestion" if he considered he had a mandate to sell taxpayer assets. The only commuters from the south-west and suburbs further south on the Southern line who would not catch a train passing through the City Circle would be headed for Parramatta or destinations further west on the Western line. A rail tunnel under the CBD that has connections only to lift shafts emerging god knows where is counterproductive even if commuters on the Bankstown line do not jump ship at Sydenham and north-west line commuters do not jump ship at Epping and Chatswood.


  1. I agree the privatisation of the Epping to Chatswood line is only the thin edge of the wedge. But would a Labor government do things differently?

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