A reminder that the closing date for submissions on the City and Southwest second stage of the Sydney Metro is this coming Friday 17 July 2015. While the Sydney Metro website explicitly seeks feedback about the alignment and options for station locations, the project website also makes it clear that submissions can “relate to any aspect of the plans for Stage Two of Sydney Metro”.
This raises a basic question: is it worthwhile revisiting the debate about the appropriateness of a metro in this corridor (particularly in the driverless, single-deck privatised form adopted for the first stage Northwest Metro)? Alternatively with construction of the first stage well underway, do we just accept that stage 2 will be built as an extension of the metro and therefore just concentrate the alignment and station options as well other practical issues relating to the project’s implementation?
I’m contemplating responding to both sets of issues but will probably spend more time on the practicalities. Whatever people may think about the metro concept, after winning the election and its success in the upper house on the leasing of the electricity assets the government has certainly made it clear that it will proceed with the second stage as planned. In doing so it is highly likely to sign the construction contracts and seek to commence the project by middle of this term, thus ensuring that it will be quite irreversible by the next election. This is the same strategy it used for the Northwest Metro.
In effect the government is using the proceeds of one privatisation (the leasing of electricity assets) to facilitate another privatisation (the construction and operation of the metro). Indeed as the Greens transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi recently pointed out (as I also did a little while ago) the Sydney Metro project looks increasingly like the precursor to the eventual privatisation of the whole rail network. To be fair to the government it hasn’t explicitly stated this is its policy and in any case as I noted in another post, the previous Labor government’s failure to develop and implement a coherent public transport strategy provided a policy vacuum for the incoming Coalition to fill with its own agenda.
As I reiterated in recent post however, while the metro will greatly increase rail network its contributions to increasing rail network coverage are comparatively modest. This is mainly because two sections of publicly owned rail infrastructure (the Epping to Chatswood and Bankstown lines) will be handed to the private operator of the metro for both operational and financial reasons. The upshot is that only a comparatively limited number of new stations will be constructed in new areas.
In relation to the Southwest Metro, I noted in my earlier post that the government has put forward two options – north of the existing line with a station at the University of Sydney, or south, with a station at Waterloo. I outlined the case for alternatives to the Government’s “either/or” strategy in relation to the alignment and station options it is proposing for the metro stage 2 route between Central and Sydenham stations, along with options for increasing the coverage of the metro network. I’ve done some more work on developing these options which will form part of my submission on Stage 2 and the modified versions are summarised below. It should be noted that these are indicative proposals which I don’t have the resources to scope in detail in terms of practicality or cost-benefit.
First however is diagram with an approximate representation of the two options proposed by the Government. As I noted in my earlier post, I favour the Sydney University option over Waterloo for a station between Central and Sydenham, ideally with an additional station between the uni and Sydenham, but I don’t believe we have to make this either/or choice. I also said that to increase network coverage an additional line south of the Harbour needs to be considered and my preference was for a Western Metro Along Parramatta Road as far as Parramatta and either North Parramatta and/or Westmead. I have incorporated this in the modified options.
My modified options are as follows:
1. Connect both Sydney Uni and Waterloo. As I noted earlier, apart from connecting both centres this option would also have the potential to provide bus-metro interchanges for both inner west and south bus services. The Sydney University station could become an interchange station for a future Western Metro as shown in the modified diagram.
2a and 2b: Adopt the Sydney Uni corridor and build a deviation on the Airport Line to connect to Waterloo. In my last post I proposed construction of a few hundred metres of track complete with a new station at Waterloo as an isolated project which is connected to the existing line only when construction has been completed. The metro line would then go via Sydney University.
The modified diagrams show how a Western Metro could be incorporated into this option. Option 2a proposes the most direct route to Sydenham with the University station as a potential interchange to a Western Metro and a second station in the Newtown/St Peters area.
Option 2b is an additional modification in which the line follows a wider arc along Parramatta Road to a second station which would act as the interchange for a future Western Metro. The Southwest Metro line would then swing south via a potential Newtown/St Peters station to Sydenham. This option would provide the opportunity for a separate bus-metro interchange on Parramatta Road away from the congested university location.
3. Commit to building the Western Metro. The metro line would divide after Central with the Southwest Metro going to Sydenham with a station at Waterloo and the Western Metro line going via Sydney University.
I would encourage anyone who’s interested to put in a submission – and in doing so to look a little beyond just choosing between the Sydney University and Waterloo options.