Victor P Taffa
Despite the change of Labor leaders New South Wales continues to lurch from one crisis to another when it comes to delivering on key infrastructure projects.
The Epping -Chatswood railway has been plagued by controversy from the time when former Premier Bob Carr announced the project as the Parramatta-Chatswood railway. Budget overruns cut the project in half as the cost doubled in price.
Then the Lane Cove River bridge was ditched in favour of a tunnel leading to gradient problems for train carriages .Along with the tunnel option was the abandonment of a planned U.T.S. Kuringai railway station. This project eventually opened in 2009 with trains arriving behind schedule and not close to timetable order.
Cronulla Railway Duplication:
The Cronulla line duplication was announced by former Transport Minister Carl Scully and in 2009 is still under construction. According to The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader in April 2002:
“The State Government has brought forward plans to duplicate the Sutherland –Cronulla railway line.”
Construction was to have commenced after the 2003 State election however the line will be lucky to be duplicated and operational by the time of the 2011 State election.
Southern Sydney Freight Line:
Another infrastructure project that is well behind completion is the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL). The SSFL is a 30 Km single track line running parallel on the main Southern line between Sefton and Macarthur. This project will enable the smooth movement of freight and operate independently of passenger movements. The Federal Government is acting responsibly in pressing ahead with this project. There remains an obstacle to complete this project.
The New South Wales Government is failing to implement noise mitigation walls at Casula. Casula residents are alarmed at the lack of noise mitigation walls that will not be constructed. If long term planning was also a consideration the line should include a fourth track. This lack of the implementation of noise reduction measures at Padstow mirrors that as at Casula where the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) has been approved however delays have occurred because Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) ran into technical issues. The budgeted cost of $309 Million is set to balloon. Approval was obtained in October 2008 with a completion of 2010.
Now it is the turn of Padstow residents to be snubbed when noise mitigation walls are being planned. Crusade Avenue Padstow is a quiet street that backs onto the East Hills railway line.
The Kingsgrove to Revesby Quadruplication (K2RQ) is 12 Km of additional double track on the East Hills line. At Padstow the East Hills Line is in part being quadrupled between Kingsgrove and Revesby (K2RQ) at an estimated cost of $450 Million. Contracts for this project were signed in May 2007. Crusade Avenue Padstow lies on the Southern side of the line and will not receive noise mitigation walls.
However the equally populated Northern side will be receiving noise mitigation walls. Local residents are outraged as to why Crusade Avenue will miss out on noise mitigation walls. The affect of placing these walls on only one side of the line will be to exacerbate noise problems for Crusade Avenue residents. Noise will simple bounce off one wall and magnify in intensity. Further down the East Hills line noise mitigation walls have been placed on both sides of the line.
According to The Bankstown Canterbury Torch on 9 December 2009:
“Residents’ requests for barriers to insulate them from the expected noise have been rejected after a petition, several appeals and discussions at community consultative meetings.”
According to a spokesman for Transport Minister David Campbell:
“This review determined the locations of noise walls for the project in accordance with operational noise standards.” the spokesperson said.
The problem is once a project is finished there is ‘none and buckleys’ chance of getting anyone to listen to residents’ concerns.
King Georges Road Beverly Hills Overpass:
Further to the concerns of Padstow residents with the K2RQ project is the delay in completing the works at King Georges Road Beverly Hills overpass. Since work on this overpass began there has been little rain to upset works. Businesses are suffering as feeder streets have had their access cut off.
With very little rain and knowing that both road and rail traffic has had to continue to move people it would seem that the people involved in “getting the job done” have failed. Signage with an estimated completion date has not been installed.
When road projects are being planned the well resourced Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) holds public consultation meetings and implements noise mitigation walls such as those along Centenary Drive South Strathfield. Local resident concerns are addressed because the RTA knows that the funds will be available. Road projects are given a ‘rails run’ at the budget estimate committee stage and when the projects come before Cabinet are rubber stamped without a further thought.
When rail projects are being planned the under resourced Rail Corp goes to the budget estimate committee stage and when the projects come before Cabinet are either cut back or abandoned altogether. Knowing how difficult it is to have rail projects approved Rail Corp despairingly have to go back to the drawing boards or place them in their draws never to be seen again.
If this was not the case then why has new suburbs all over Sydney been allowed to be built without a railway line over the last sixty years?
The comedy of errors that is New South Wales Government planning continues.