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23 March 2015
MEDIA RELEASE

Australian Democrats candidates to make NSW Transport and Infrastructure a priority

The Australian Democrats will prioritise transport and infrastructures issues, if elected. The Australian Democrats Lead Candidate, Mr Rendall Wagner says that “rather than selling our poles and wires, he recommends the state borrow against this asset at record low interest rates to fund infrastructure projects and programs that will reduce congestion, support population growth and stimulate productivity across Sydney and regional NSW”.1 Our vision for Rebuilding NSW is somewhat different from Baird’s. Our vision is to invest in transport initiatives that encourage greater use of public transport in cities. Our vision is for more infrastructure projects and programs in regional NSW, linking those projects to jobs for our youth and economic growth in regional areas. Our vision is for the state to invest in renewable energy.

Mr Wagner said he would make the following four issues his top transport priorities: “increase the speed of Sydney trains, improve the frequency of Sydney city bus services, and improve the commute times between Sydney and Penrith/Blue Mountains, the Central Coast/Newcastle, and Wollongong while improving public transport in regional areas.” Mr Wagner said, “I would like to see the mainline acceleration program for the Central Coast and Illawarra made a priority, rather than part of a 20 year vision. Also, regional rail and roads only get $4.1billion under Baird’s strategy, while the Sydney Rapid Transit project gets $7.1 billion and Westconnex gets $1.1 billion to save 40 minutes from Parramatta to Sydney Airport.”

The Australian Democrats Candidate for the Legislative Council, Mr Simon Lovell wants to tackle congestion in Sydney and cut-down on travel times - with trains and buses his priority – not Westconnex. He is critical of the slowing down of trains even further to aid on-time running, arguing that “there are better ways to solve the problem that doesn’t make our rail system look like an international embarrassment”. He will use his expertise in transport to fix Sydney’s problems. “I will be putting forward ways to improve the speed of Sydney Trains. There is substantial evidence up to ten extra services could be run per hour if the timetable were sped up,” Mr Lovell said.

Mr Lovell’s vision is for the Western Line trains to serve a new tunnel as previously planned by the current government and the previous Kenneally government. “This also makes the pointwork upgrades referred to in the Western Sydney Rail upgrade redundant if it's done properly”, he said. Mr Lovell wants the see the application of science to quantify the balance between faster timetables and reliability and wants to introduce legislation to effect this. “My vision also includes reopening the straighter, faster but steeper alignment around Helensburgh for passenger trains.”

“We are opposed to the current government's plans to run a sizeable portion of Western Line trains into Sydney Terminal, requiring commuters to change onto single deck trains to handle the high loadings and high growth on the Western Line”2, says Mr Lovell. Mr Lovell calls for “a rail tunnel from Eveleigh (near Redfern) through the Town Hall precinct and into Barrangaroo to be built for up to 12 carriage double deck trains, with provision for going under the harbour at a later date without a shut down. Such a tunnel should be funded out of debt with interest rates at historic lows. To build Westconnex with 4 lanes each way to Penrith only stimulates more traffic to carry quite a small number of people relative to what the train line carries.”

Mr Lovell will fight to address the “rampant traffic congestion around Kingsford-Smith Airport and on the M5, among other roads. A number of these cars are heading to or from the airport. “The best solution for the people of NSW is for these stations to be bought, the access fee lowered by 75%, concessions be recognised properly, and that the access fees be removed for airport workers. In the longer term, such a move may well be revenue positive if patronage on the line more than triples”, he said. Mr Lovell “expects that the acquisition would cost around $150 million”.3 “What is particularly absurd about the current arrangement is that the owner-operator of these stations collects only 15% of the “surplus revenue”, but is entitled to set the station access fee and can also prevent additional buses from serving the airport,” Mr Lovell stated.

“The Australian Democrats want to see quality, long-term investment in NSW transport and would welcome the 'common sense' enhancement plan by the Equilibria Proposal for Northconnex. The forward planning in the proposal addresses a range of issues, including noise, air pollution, traffic congestion and new housing through well thought-out design. We support smart investment into the northern rail infrastructure as well, however we recognise that no matter how many commuters use rail, drivers from all over will continue to dread Pennant Hills Road if nothing is done to fix the missing link,” said Mr Wagner.

Authorised by David King
NSW Campaign Manager
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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“You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system.” -- Erol Ozan