Over this past week the government has sought to bury negative stories about the Sydney Transport network and its future development. The government has shelved the purchase of new ferries for the Parramatta River and have delayed the release of the business case for Sydney Metro West.
Documents released by the government show that funding for replacements for the 18 oldest ferries in the Sydney Ferry fleet is one of the most major funding pressure of Transport for NSW and would have an estimated cost of at least $120 million.
As part of these plans the government sought expression of interest in September 2017 for four new ferries suitable for trips along the Parramatta River. These ferries would have carried 150-200 passengers and would enter service between 2019 and 2020, with an option for up to 12 more ferries to allow for further replacements and service expansion.
The government confirmed recently that those plans had fallen through, citing a lack of suitable off the shelf ferry designs and lack of interest from shipbuilders. Local interest groups along the rover are disappointed by the decision, as they claim they need to new ferries to allow for an increase in service due to current overcrowding issues. Ferries often operate at capacity from as early as 10am and as late as 7pm on warm summer weekends.
Sydney Metro West is a much talked about and much needed new rail line between the CBD and Parramatta. The State Government has previously committed to have it open and operating by 2029, whilst the Labor opposition has pledged to have it open earlier, by 2024.
However the project is already running behind schedule. The final business case for the project was due for release by late 2018 but the government is still yet to release them. Internal documents and industry insiders suggest the cost of such as line could blow out to as much was $25 billion, well above the initial $18 billion price tag and that this cost could partially be to blame for the delay.
Both Sydney Metro and Andrew Constance were quick to stress the importance of the project however neither would comment on the business case or cost. This delay would likely be indicative of a delay to the start of construction, which was originally slated for mid 2019.