2019 Federal Election

The 2019 Federal Election is being held on Saturday May 18, 2019. Transport is typically considered a state issue, but many transport projects right across the country are pushed and funded by the federal government, including projects here in NSW. The incumbent Liberal National Coalition led by Scott Morrison is up against the Labor opposition led by Bill Shorten.

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Bill Shorten (Labor) is looking to take government from Scott Morrison (Liberal National Coalition) – AAP

Both parties are coming to the election with a number of cornerstone commitments in the transport space. We will make it very clear from the outset that we don’t accept road projects as transport projects and as such we do not include these commitments. The funding that both parties are proposing will go towards projects that have been deemed to be High Priority or Priority infrastructure initiatives in the near to medium term by Infrastructure Australia.


Both parties are promising to fully fund Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport – WSROC

The Liberal National Coalition is running on a very status quo campaign this election. They have proposed just over $18 billion in funding over 10 years for transport projects at this election, including;

  • At least $5 billion to fully fund and building the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $3.5 billion in funding for a North-South rail link between St Marys and Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $40 million on assessments for fast rail corridors
  • $9.3 billion for Inland Rail

This current Liberal government has a mixed record on Transport. After being first elected in 2013, then PM Tony Abbott announced that he would refuse to fund any public transport projects. There was the cancellation of more than $4 billion of planned investment in public transport infrastructure in the 2014 budget, including projects that had been positively assessed by Infrastructure Australia. Under PM Malcolm Turnbull, there had been a return to some expenditure on public transport, however this has still be very paltry when compared to past governments.

Currently Deputy PM Michael McCormack is the federal Minister for Transport, however we often get long periods of radio silence from him on transport matters.  Perhaps the best achievement on transport made during the life of this government was the Western Sydney City Deal. This allowed for co-ordinated investment with the state government in the Western Sydney Airport precinct. Despite this investment their record is still poor, with over $5 billion in previous transport commitments yet to be delivered.

Labor is running one of the largest policy based campaigns in Australian history, and this also extends to their commitments on Transport. Labor is promising an extensive funding splurge of around $22 billion in their first term of government.

  • At least $5 billion to fully fund and building the Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • $3 billion in funding for a North-South rail link between St Marys and Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird-Walton) Airport
  • Additional funding for an extension of the South West Rail Link from Leppington to Western Sydney Airport
  • $3 billion in funding for Sydney Metro West between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, doubling rail capacity
  • $50 million for a High Speed Rail authority to finalise track alignment, start land acquisitions and finalise an updated business case for an East Coast high speed rail line
  • $1 billion for land acquisitions in Southern Sydney for an East Coast high speed rail line
  • $9.3 billion for Inland Rail
  • Independent inquiry into the Inland Rail route to address concerns over changes made that advantaged rich landholders over farmers

Under the previous Labor government of 2007-2013, there was a record investment in urban public transport infrastructure as well as the reconstruction of over one third of our current rail freight network. Anthony Albanese will be Minister for Transport in a new Labor government, should they be elected. Under the previous term of government he oversaw the creation of peak body Infrastructure Australia and was a fierce advocate for investment in public transport infrastructure.

The commitment to high speed rail is an interesting one from Labor. Whilst it is an often trotted out concept that often goes nowhere, it is impressive that they have committed over $1 billion dollars to the important area of property acquisition, that realistically needs to be occurring right now to future proof for an actual HSR line in the future.

Labor is promising more to more than double the funding for Sydney Metro when compared to the Coalition – Transport NSW Blog Collection

This election, the Liberal National Coalition is going to the election without a commitment to fund some of the most important infrastructure projects across Australia, Sydney Metro West and Brisbane’s Cross River Rail. Both of theses projects have been assessed to be high priority in the near term by Infrastructure Australia for near term construction. On the other hand, Labor has promised to partially fund both of these projects.

Sydney Metro West is a proposed new rail line between the Sydney CBD and Parramatta, which is designed to take pressure off of the existing T1 Western Line. It will double rail capacity along the Parramatta-CBD corridor. Despite being assessed as a high priority initiative for construction within the next five years and the project likely requiring federal government support, the Liberal party has promised no funding astroturfing all over a 10 year period for this project. Labor has promised $3 billion for the project.

Cross River Rail is a new rail line through the Brisbane CBD, designed to take pressure of the existing Merivale Bridge and CBD rail line. This project is of interest to NSW transport as it is the only way to increase rail access to the Brisbane CBD and this lack of access detriments NSW rail services. This currently means that XPT services in the Far North Coast region have to operate at undesirable nighttime hours for arrival and departures into Brisbane, a situation which can only be fixed with Cross River Rail. Further, there are numerous local benefits for Cross River Rail.  Labor has promised $2 billion for the project.

Beyond these two projects, there are a number of non-NSW specific projects that the Coalition has failed to promise funding for, and history shows that even when the Coalition promises projects they don’t necessarily deliver. Additionally, there should be great skepticism taken with any 10-year funding plan from either side of government, as there ability to deliver these sort of promises is typically very low when it is not a bipartisan measure. As the entire offering from the Coalition is based on a 10 year plan, with little to no money actually being delivered this term, it is hard to see what transport benefits will actually materialise with a re-elected Coalition government.

Labor is promising more, sooner. All of Labor’s promises are fully funded in their first term of government rather than relying on longer term estimates of spending. This allows them to demonstrate that they are actually committed to their promises and they weren’t just an empty promise that can be repeated election after election. Additionally, the experience and expertise that Anthony Albanese will bring to the role will be of great benefit to the wider Australian transport landscape, particularly his work as Transport Minister and with Infrastructure Australia.

Anthony Albanese will be the federal Minister for Transport if Labor wins the election. He previously served in the role between 2007-2013 – Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

There appears to be a wider compelling case for a change of government at this election and this extends into the transport realm. Labor has a better transport platform and a more experienced team that is more likely to deliver.

Federal Budget and Budget Reply deliver for NSW Transport

This week we saw both the Federal Budget and offical budget reply handed down in Canberra, with both documents acting as pre-campaign launches for the federal election that is coming up in May. Both the Coalition and Labor are promising billions of funding for new transport projects here in NSW, as well as around the country.

Josh Frydenburg and Bill Shorten are both promising big for Transport in NSW – ABC

The incumbent Coalition government has promised that the state’s infrastructure boom will be further boosted with $7.3 billion for new rail and road projects. This includes a major investment of $3.5 billion for stage 1 of the the new North-South Metro line between St Marys and Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis via the new Western Sydney Airport. $50 million will be spent from the Urban Congestion Fund for new commuter carparks in Gosford, Panania, Hurstville and Woy Woy. A further $40 million has been set aside for detailed assessments of potential fast rail corridors in NSW, including from Sydney to Wollongong and Sydney to Parkes. $950 million has been earmarked for road upgrades. Most of the funding promised comes from forward estimates and will be delivered over four years.

In their budget reply, Labor criticised the government for only including the money for projects in forward estimates, where it claims they will not actually have to deliver on their promises. As part of the reply, Labor has committed to funding all of its major infrastructure projects in its first budget to be handed down later this year if it wins office. This will include $3 Billion for Sydney Metro West between the CBD and Westmead via the Bays Precinct, Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta and at least $500 million for an extension of the South West rail link from Leppington to Western Sydney Airport via Bringelly. This will come alongside an investigation into funding for stage 1 of the the new North-South Metro line and promises for funding for a high speed rail planning authority.

It is a very good sign that both parties are providing funding for parts of the state governments major railway infrastructure plan. Both parties are promising funding for a rail line to the new Western Sydney Airport and the Coalition is spending big on reducing congestion. One criticism to come out of the budget on the transport front was the lack of funding for the Sydney Metro West project by the Coalition. This is a project that will likely need federal funding to get off the ground and given it has been brought forward by the state Coalition government, out seems odd that their federal counterparts would not want to support the project.

No matter which party wins the next federal election, it looks like New South Wales will be getting plenty of federal funding for its planned rail projects, leading to better transport outcomes.

Another Four Years…

At the New South Wales state election last weekend, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Liberal Nation Coalition government was re-elected for a third term. They won with a reduced majority of 48 seats in the 93 seat parliament. At this time we do not know who will be the transport minister in this term in government, but it would be reasonable to believe that Andrew Constance will likely retain the position going forward.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance – NewsCorp

As we outlined last week, there are a number of transport policies that were part of their election platform and will begin to be delivered throughout this term in government including;

  • Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Sydney Metro West projects fast tracked
  • Outer West North South Metro and extension to Sydney Metro West projects to connect to Western Sydney Airport from day one of airport operation
  • Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • F6 Extension
  • 17 additional Waratah Series 2 trains to allow for additional new Sydney Trains services to Western Sydney
  • More Buses to deliver 14 000 extra weekly services over four years
  • $50 weekly cap on Public Transport Fares
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Obviously as this government has been reelected, they will be able to deliver some of their cornerstone projects from the past two terms including that are yet to be completed;

  • CBD and South East Light Rail
  • Sydney Metro Northwest
  • Westconnex M4 and M5 East tunnels
  • Northconnex

The government has promised to follow through on all of their promises, regardless of which party won in the corresponding seat. This means that seats that voted for Labor, the Greens, the Shooters or an Independent will still get their promised upgrades. The government has tried to make this evident in an attempt to keep voters onside. In particular, expect very marginal Labor seats such as the gains of Coogee and Lismore to receive everything that they were promised in the hope of winning them back next time round. But even in safe Labor or independent seats transport projects will still go ahead, as the government doesn’t wish to be seen as pork barreling in their safest seats.

Throughout this term of government there are many different things that we can expect. There will be very little change in the way the transport operates from last term, particularly given it will be the same government in power.

Lots of ribbon cutting should be an obvious thing that will ramp up this time round. Many of the flagship projects launched in the first term of the current government are now nearing completion and we can expect major coverage of their openings. The first one will be the Sydney Metro North West on May 5, which is the first state of the major rail expansion program under Sydney Metro branding and will be the first automated rail line to open in Australia. We will also see the opening of the Randwick branch of the CBD and South East light rail in December.

We will see more and more construction. As all of the new projects promised continue with their construction or begin in the next few months and years, we will see even more transport related construction sites. This will obviously cause some disruption but will in the longer term deliver better outcomes for these areas. Expect more Sydney Metro sites to go up in the CBD and Inner West, with road tunnels going under the North Shore and Inner South.

We can also expect more privatisation of our transport operations. We already know that the Epping-Chatswood and Sydenham-Bankstown rail lines are being privatised as part of the Sydney Metro upgrades in this term. It would be unsurprising if more State Transit bus service regions are sold off this term as it was a foundational change that was pushed by the government in the last term.

The Liberals will also likely continue their union bashing agenda that occurred throughout the last term. Here at Transport NSW Blog we are proud to support the union movement and particularly the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU). The RTBU  has been attacked viciously by the Liberals constantly over the last eight years, due to their opposition to privatisation and pay freezes impletzemed by this governments. These attacks on unions need to stop, but it is foreseeable that they will continue given the ideological anti-union views of this government.

This is not the outcome we advocated for in our pre-election editorial last week, and we still don’t think this is the best outcome for transport in New South Wales. We can only hope that Constance gets moved on to another portfolio and a more competent minister takes his place. We also need to advocate for the end of the privatisation agenda and union bashing conduced by this government to ensure the best outcomes for transport in this term of government.

NSW Election Roundup

Tomorrow, Saturday March 23rd 2019, is the polling day for the 2019 NSW State Election. Both the Labor and Liberal parties have made many promises in the area of transport, which will deliver a variety of improvements to transport regardless of which government is voted over this weekend. This election is shaping up to be close, with polls suggesting Labor is ahead 50.5% to 49.5% despite late stumbles for the party. This would deliver a hung parliament if replicated at the election.

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Micheal Daley (Labor) and Gladys Berejiklian (Liberal National Coalition) are going head to head in a tight election this weekend – AAP

The incumbent Liberal National coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian has now been in power for 8 years and to some extent is beginning to experience incumbency fatigue. They are pointing to their record on delivering transport projects for the state as one of the main reasons that they should be re-elected. Despite this, very little of their major policy commitments in the area of transport over the last 8 years have actually been delivered. Only the B-Line bus rapid project and Newcastle light rail have had ribbons cut, with signature projects such as the CBD and South East light rail and Sydney Metro Northwest not being ready for operations till the next term of government. Additionally, most of these major projects have also been marred by controversy and chaos. This chaos including a multi-billion dollar lawsuit over light rail contracts and structural failures in bridge spans for the Sydney Metro. In the regions, these inner Sydney transport projects are highly unpopular, particularly as there has been a lack of investment in country infrastructure in the most recent term of government.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has consistently proved a divisive figure, and many in the transport industry will be hoping for him to either be voted out or moved to a different portfolio in the next term of government. He doesn’t seem to truely understand public transport and has a very ideological profit and privatisation agenda that isn’t compatible with public services.

This government hasn’t been able to pull together a cohesive narrative for transport over 8 years and probably needed to do more to win over transport conscious voters.

Berejiklian’s signature Sydney Light Rail Project has been poorly executed and is relatively unpopular – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Liberal National coalition are going in with a number of transport policies for this election.

  • Sydney Metro City and Southwest and Sydney Metro West projects fast tracked
  • Outer West North South Metro and extension to Sydney Metro West projects to connect to Western Sydney Airport from day one of airport operation
  • Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • 17 additional Waratah Series 2 trains to allow for additional new Sydney Trains services to Western Sydney
  • More Buses to deliver 14 000 extra weekly services over four years
  • $50 weekly cap on Public Transport Fares
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Labor is once again going into the election with a near unknown leader in Michael Daley. Last time Labor was in government they promised a large number of public transport projects, but didn’t really deliver of many of them. The Airport Line, Epping-Chatswood Rail Link and T-Way network were their biggest deliveries, whilst the North West and South West rail links that they promised in government haven’t seen any construction until the Liberals gained government. They once again are running on a platform of cancellations, but given these projects are mostly dubious anyway, it actually is a good way to stop wasteful spending that often occurs with fatigued governments. On the other hand, they typically have shown a good understanding of the issues that have been affecting the community in the transport space, getting involved in many local grassroots groups to advocate for better public transport.

Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay has consistently been on top of the major transport issues over the last term in government and has proved very competent in opposition. Having spent time as both a Newcastle and a Inner West MP she has a very good understanding of the areas where come of the biggest transport clashes often occur. She also comes with a string of endorsements from a number of key figures from inside the transport industry, including a number RTBU sectaries as well as employees at government operators State Transit and Sydney Trains.

Labor has been very good at understanding grassroots transport concerns over the past term of government – Transport NSW Blog collection via Colin Magee

Labor has a number of transport policies going into this election

  • Free public transport for all school students
  • A new train timetable, with reduced travel times for Western Sydney
  • Reduce station access fee to $5 at both Domestic and International stations, with $0 fee for registered airport workers
  • $8 billion to fast track the construction of Sydney Metro West from the CBD to Westmead
  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City (and Southwest if contracts can’t be broken)
  • $3 billion for signalling and track improvements to the rail network
  • Extension of South West Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport.
  • Expanded bus services in areas where services have been cut or in “missing links”
  • Refund for train services that are excessively delayed for avoidable reasons
  • No more privatisation of transport services and buy back of selected privatised transport services
  • Scrapping of Northern Beaches and Second Harbour Tunnel
  • M4 toll cashback
  • Hold a Judicial Inquiry into WestConnex and the Sydney Light Rail
  • Introduce a new community consultation scheme for transport changes
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Neither party can be considered to be entirely inspiring or competent in the area of transport going into the next term. The Liberals have been the ones to actually get down to construction on many transport projects. However, the arrogance and lack of understanding on behalf of Berejiklian and Constance as well as the failure to deliver projects could prove costly. On the other hand, Labor has a history of cancelling projects and not actually delivering on their promises. Despite this, they have a much better platform for this election and go in with the benefits of a fresh slate and a popular, experienced shadow minster in McKay. 

A minority government where minor parties and independents are able to hold the major parties to account on their transport policies will be the best outcome of this election. Many of them including the Greens, Alex Greenwich and Greg Piper have good policies on transport themselves and would likely be very willing to push their own agenda. Due to the possibility that Andrew Constance might retain the transport portfolio if the Liberals are involved in said minority government, it would be somewhat marginally preferable for Labor to be the major party in this minority agreement.

Don’t forget that you MUST vote if you are registered and to look our for our post outlining the impact of the result of the election next week. Enjoy your democracy sausage!



Battleground Seats – East Hills

East Hills is the most marginal Liberal held seat in NSW. It is currently held by retiring Liberal MP Glenn Brooks on a 0.4% margin, making it the most marginal seat in the state. This time round Wendy Lindsay will run for the Liberals, whilst returning candidate Cameron Murphy is running for Labor.

New trains are being promised by both parties – Transport NSW Blog Collection

The Liberal candidate is Wendy Lindsay. The Liberals have committed to a new commuter carpark at Revesby station and an accessibility upgrade for East Hills station. They have also committed to more bus connections to Revesby station and improved train services, including new more new B Set trains. The Liberals have also announced that there will be a reduction in the Opal weekly cap to $50.

Cameron Murphy is the Labor candidate. He was previously a barrister and the candidate for East Hills at the 2015 state election. Labor has promised to remove all non-air conditioned S-Set trains from the T8 line and review the timetables on the line. As part of their fair fares policy, Labor will make all public transport free for school students and refund fares for unreasonable delays to train services.

In a seat where transport is a vital connection both parties appear to be light on promises. Will Fair Fares be enough for Labor to pick up the most marginal seat in the state?

Battleground Seats – Penrith

Today we are exploring the outer-western Sydney seat of Penrith. The incumbent MP is Liberal Minister Stuart Ayres who holds the seat on a margin of 6.2%. The Labor candidate is Karen McKeown.

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Tolls on the M4 Motorway have been a contentious issue in Penrith – Luke Foley

Incumbent Stuart Ayres MP is once again the Liberal candidate. He is currently the Minster for Western Sydney, Minister for WestConnex and the Minister for Sport. The keystone of the Liberal transport platform in Penrith is the Westconnex motorway project. It is designed to get commuters from Western Sydney into the city in a more timely matter. This has proved contentious, due to the reintroduction of tolls on the M4 motorway to pay for the project. The Liberals have also promised to introduce extra express train services between Penrith and the City, with shorter travel time than under current timetables. Mr Ayres announced he would ensure that Penrith only sees the newest train in the Waratah and New Intercity Fleet. He has also committed to ensuring every station in the electorate is wheelchair accessible and to building a larger carpark at Emu Plains. Additionally, the Liberals will reduce the Opal weekly cap to $50.

Karen McKeown is a local councillor on Penrith Council and will be the Labor Candidate. Labor has promised to bring back the M4 Toll Cashback, essentially refunded tolls for commuters using the M4 who live in the Penrith electorate. Labor has committed to new commuter parking at Emu Plains and Penrith and will invest in making all stations in the seat wheelchair accessible. Labor will also invest $3 billion in signalling upgrades to slash rail travel times and introduce a new, more reliable train timetable. Labor will also make public transport free for all school aged students.

The contentious M4 tolls and Mr Ayres position as Minster for Sports behind the stadium splurge in the Eastern Suburbs is putting the Liberals on edge in Penrith. Will the toll cash back be enough for Labor to win over voters?

Both candidates were approached for comment, but did not respond.

Battleground Seats – Coogee

In the lead up to the State Election in NSW we will be looking at what all of the major parties are doing in transport to try and win over voters in the most marginal seats across the state.

The Light Rail is a highly contentious infrastructure project in the seat of Coogee – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Today we are looking at the the Inner Sydney seat of Coogee. The incumbent MP is Liberal back-bencher Bruce Notley-Smith who holds the seat on a margin of 2.9%. The Labor candidate is Dr Marjorie O’Neill, a Waverley Councillor, whilst The Greens are running the ex-Mayor of Randwick Lindsay Shurey. Coogee is a seat that the Liberals appear to be highly pessimistic of retaining, yet is key for them to retain majority government. It is a must win for Labor, whilst the Greens retain an outside chance.

Mr Notley-Smith is the incumbent Liberal MP. He was the first openly gay MP to be elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly and was previously the Mayor of Randwick. The Liberal’s embattled Light Rail project is the centre piece of their transport plan for Coogee, which is expected to cause them some issues, as it is running 18 months behind schedule and nearly $1 billion over budget. Mr Notley-Smith has promised extra bus services for the Coogee valley and also to reinstate the bus route between Bronte and the City. The Liberals have also announced that they will introduce 10 new electric buses to Randwick depot for shuttle services between Coogee and the Light Rail in Randwick. Mr Notley-Smith refused to comment when contacted.

Dr O’Neill is the Labor candidate hoping to win back a traditional Labor seat. She currently serves as a Waverley Councillor. Labor plans to hold a Judicial Inquiry into the Light Rail project and ensure that existing bus service levels are retained after its opening. They are promising to do a complete review of bus services in the Bronte area and reinstate a bus route between Bronte and the CBD. Labor is also promising to make all transport for School Children free at all times and end the privatisation of bus services in the area. At a local community forum she commented on transport “The Liberals took away our buses without community consultation. We have campaigned and will bring back the 378 and look at the 361 buses. The light rail is opening at crush capacity. Is this the best public transport solution for our ageing population? The very simple answer is NO.” Further she promised,  “We will not take away buses without community consultation and, there will be no privatisation of our buses or other public services in Coogee under a Labor government”

Labor’s Marjorie O’Neill has promised to save local bus services – Transport NSW Blog Collection via Colin Magee

Ms Shurey is the Greens candidate. She was previously the Mayor of Randwick and is currently a Randwick councillor. The Greens are promising $1 public transport for all and renewable transport. When contacted, Ms Shurey claimed “It is one of my objectives to work to ensure Coogee residents retain all the current public transport advantages, which they currently enjoy and improve on the overall public transport service following the opening of the CBD to South East Light Rail.” She also confirmed that the Greens policy is against the privatisation of bus services and to seek to power public transport by non-fossil sources.”It should be the urban goal of all cities to overall reduce the net emission of carbon dioxide or its equivalent. Increased public transport is necessary to contribute to the lowering of carbon emissions and to get people out of cars, public transport must be reliable, frequent and sustainable and definitely in public hands.” Ms Shurey stated.

All three of the candidates are promising to improve public transport for Coogee. However, the failure to deliver the light rail project on time may bring Mr Notley-Smith and the Liberals undone. Labor’s “Save Our Buses” campaign has been very popular in the more Liberal leaning north of the seat and could just be the winner in a tight contest.

NSW Election 2019

It’s an election year in NSW and now less than two months out, we are starting to see robust policy announcements, discussions and debates from all sides of politics. Both of the major parties have a platform for transport that they are running on for this state election, ranging from changes to ticketing to new train lines. This post will serve as an outline to the already announced policies from both parties, whilst future posts will provide commentary surrounding policies leading up to the election.

Liberal Policies


  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City and Southwest
  • Deliver 17 new Waratah Series 2 trains
  • Continue with planning for Sydney Metro West
  • A new North South Rail linking communities to the new Western Sydney airport and new jobs
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Labor Policies

  • Free public transport for all school students
  • A new train timetable, with reduced travel times for Western Sydney
  • Reduce station access fee to $5 at both Domestic and International stations, with $0 fee for registered airport workers
  • $8 billion to fast track the construction of Sydney Metro West from the CBD to Westmead
  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City (and Southwest if contracts can’t be broken)
  • $3 billion for improvements to the rail network
  • Feasibility studies for extension of South West Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport.
  • Expanded bus services including Sutherland to Airport
  • Refund for train services that are excessively delayed for avoidable reasons
  • No more privatisation of transport services and buy back of selected privatised transport services
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Both parties have promised billions of dollars worth of new infrastructure all well as investment in other programs. Labor has more promises on paper, but this is because a large part of the Liberal transport platform is based on continuing their pre-existing programs which they claim are sufficient and they aren’t included in this list of policy announcements. On the other hand Labor is presenting a fresh new platform with a large number of small but significant policies.

There will also be a federal election this year. Whilst the content we normally post surrounds issues that are state based, sometimes federal governments intervene in transport policy particularly with funding for policies announced by the state branch of that is party. We will do a detailed post after the end of the NSW state campaign.

New Year, Same Problems

Sydney Trains started off 2019 on the wrong foot last night, with a major system meltdown beginning around 6pm on New Years Eve and still continuing well into New Years Day.

Line to enter Central Station at 2am – 7 News

As over a million people descended on Sydney Harbour for the famous midnight fireworks, the rail network began to crumble. Lightning strikes to critical rail infrastructure at both Central and Gordon started the domino affect necessary to cripple the network. At one point around 6:30pm no services were able to operate through the Suburban Platforms at Central Station. Initially minor signal failures were reported to be the cause. However this was later clarified to be major signal damage due to lightning, which too a number of hours to be rectified.

After the end of the celebrations and in the first few hours of 2019 was when the system saw major capacity issues. Customers attempting to enter both Wynyard and Town Hall stations found themselves being redirected to Central due to dangerous platform overcrowding. At Central, some people experienced crush injuries after a large majority of ticket barriers were closed to stem the flow of passengers. As a result, massive queues spilt out onto the roads at Central, with some people reportedly waiting over an hour just to enter the station. By this stage some trains were up to three and a half hours behind schedule, with one passenger reporting her train guard announcing something along the lines of “I wouldn’t rely on this train, I’d get a cab.” Despite claims all lines had a service every 15 minutes or better all night, some passengers complained that their line had seen no trains in over an hour at times.

As the dawn broke on 2019 and New Years Day continued, so did the train delays. As of this morning there are still delays on every train line, including a number of services that are well over two hours behind schedule. Trains are running out of order and with changed stopping patterns. These delays are likely to continue all day, as the network struggles to cope with even small delays. As of 11am, trains were not running o the T6 and T7 lines, as well as being suspended between Blacktown and Richmond on the T1 line and Sutherland and Cronulla on the T4 line.

But of course this whole fiasco begs one question, Why? Why did this happen on the biggest night of the year for Sydney Trains, when hundreds of thousands of people are using the rail network all at once? Why does one signal being struck by lightning cause the entire network to collapse? Why does this keep happening? We have now seen major network meltdown after major network meltdown for over a year. The ill-flated Novemeber 2017 timetables have since been replaced with new timetables that cut services and increased the networks capacity to recover in March 2018, but still we constantly see this type of meltdown. Even if inclement weather was once again the cause, is it acceptable to still be seeing delays 18 hours later? Surely there should be a better signalling system than one that crashes at the sight of lightening.

These meltdowns are a sign of a critically overstretched rail network. Transport For NSW need to do more to ensure that this doesn’t continue to happen. It is all well and good to blame someone else for the troubles, but this government needs to fix the problem urgently. We often hear the blame laid on Labor for doing nothing in 16 years of government. But after eight years in power, the blame now surely falls to the incumbent Liberal government. Even if the network was in a crumbling state when they inherited it, surely eight years is enough time to put in even temporary measures to fix the network. Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance, the ball is at your feet. In no way can you blame the frontline staff of the rail network like many frustrated passengers do, this is entirely the fault of upper management and government for years of underinvestment. Its an election year, surely the incumbent Liberals need to present a well running rail network and take some responsibility for the problems it faces if they want to be re-elected.

So once again its another year of the same problems aboard Sydney Trains. *Welcome to Sydney Trains, the next service to arrive is your late running*