North West Rail Link an all out insult to those in the Hills
THE North West Rail Link will now end at Chatswood – where passengers will have to change from a single-deck train to a double-deck train to get into the city.
The shock announcement was made by Premier Barry O’Farrell and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian yesterday, as they presented a “20-year rail plan” for Sydney, involving the “metrofication” of the city’s rail network.
The pair also announced the government would eventually build a second Sydney Harbour rail crossing, allowing single deck rapid-transit “metro” services from Chatswood to Redfern and then out to Hurstville and Cabramatta.
The rest of the carriages on the rail network would remain double decker.
But the Transport Minister admitted she could not put a price on the second Harbour crossing, which some have said could cost up to $10 billion.
“If I stand accused of not giving a figure on that, I’m quite happy to stand accused on that point,” she said.
“When I have done sufficient homework on what it will cost, I will tell you.”
The second Harbour crossing announcement was immediately undermined by Infrastructure NSW tsar Nick Greiner: “A second Harbour crossing is very, very expensive and might well not be necessary and will be a very, very long time in the future.”
Mr Greiner confirmed, however, that Infrastructure NSW had lobbied hard for the change from double-decker trains into the city to a single deck northwest private line which ends at Chatswood.
“We think the government has made fantastic progress in coming from its original plan to that one,” Mr Greiner said.
“It’s far and away the best thing for the rail network.”
Opposition Leader John Robertson accused the government of its biggest broken promise since the election – not providing direct services from Rouse Hill to the city.
“What the people of the northwest are going to get is a shuttle service,” Mr Robertson said.
Ms Berejiklian said the decision to build an independent metro service was influenced by submissions from industry experts and the community.
“I assumed when I became Transport Minister that double decks were the way to go but expert advice, community input, industry input … and also looking at what happens around the world (changed my mind),” she said.
“We are the only major city in the world that has solely double deckers. If you want to increase services … and get more people catching transport … you have to make this huge change.”
Quizzed on whether commuters would be left stranded at Chatswood because of overcrowded trains, Ms Berejiklian said a timetable rewrite would increase services between Chatswood and the CBD from 16 to 20 an hour.
The Premier said a new “rapid transit” metro system – in which northwest trains would run every three to five minutes – was what commuters wanted and they would be able to simply “walk across the platform” to the city-bound train.
Former premier Morris Iemma, who proposed a $12 billion northwest metro line in 2008, yesterday predicted that, when the government went to tender, the private sector would suggest a direct metro line to run from the northwest to the city.