Train-corridor review 'folly'

Linton Besser Transport Reporter
January 22, 2009

THE head of the NSW Property Council has described as "pure folly" an impending NSW Government review of the long-held underground rail reservations through the centre of Sydney.

In a letter to the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, and the Transport Minister, David Campbell, Ken Morrison warned that the construction of a second CityRail line through Sydney's central business district was "critical to the future growth of Sydney and must be protected".

The letter comes after the Herald revealed top-level concerns inside RailCorp about the route selected for the $4.8 billion CBD Metro.

In a letter sent last week to the Department of Planning, RailCorp's chief executive, Rob Mason, said the underground routes had to be preserved to accommodate the larger double-deck CityRail trains, rather than being built for metro carriages.

The CBD Metro, which is planned to travel between Central and Rozelle, via Town Hall, Martin Place and Wynyard, is set to take up a corridor that was promised for a $5.5 billion second CityRail line from Redfern, under the harbour, to St Leonards.

If the metro goes ahead on this route it will prevent the one piece of infrastructure that is required to fix the crisis-level congestion plaguing the city's rail network.

The letter was sent as part of a review of legislation protecting the corridors. The Department of Planning said yesterday the review was to "determine whether any of the land included in the corridor should be excluded on the basis that the land is no longer required for railway purposes".

Mr Mason told radio 2GB yesterday that he wanted the underground rail reservations to have the room for trains larger than slimmer metro-style carriages.

"The double-decker trains are bigger and they have a larger tunnel. So we were suggesting that it is reserved for the biggest possible corridor so that the developers can't put their foundations into a future railway," he said.

Mr Morrison said corridors for the future construction of a second harbour CityRail line, which would provide the backbone to future railways in the north-west and south-west of Sydney, had to be maintained.

"The fact that short-term decisions were made in the mini-budget not to proceed with these projects at this time does not mean they are not critical projects which will be required in the future.

"It would be pure folly to throw away our capacity to expand our rail system into the future by releasing these rail-corridor reservations. We strongly urge the Government to retain them.

"The fact that they are in question at all says much about the embryonic state of much of our infrastructure planning in NSW, an issue we urge the Government to address."


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