No steam for Perrottet’s choo choo
The Perrottet Government’s announcement that a $500 million commitment in the 2022-23 NSW Budget will bring faster rail between Sydney and Newcastle is a political furphy and a desperate pre-emptive election stunt.
14 June 2022
LAST week’s announcement from the Perrottet government on faster rail is simply too little, too late after 12 years of inaction and broken promises on faster, and high speed rail.
Premier Perrottet is the third Liberal Premier in twelve years to announce faster or high speed rail before the beginning of an election campaign. Premiers O’Farrell and Berejiklian had both previously announced high speed rail projects, but not a single metre of track has ever been laid.
In 2018 the NSW Liberal Government commissioned a panel led by UK high speed rail advisor Professor Andrew McNaughton, to investigate options around faster and high speed rail.
It has been four years since then, and the government has failed to publish his report or take any other action to make high speed rail a reality. Yet the New South Wales Government is out there again promising fast rail for the people of New South Wales. But at the end of the day, how many announcements need to be made going back how many years for fast rail to actually get up and running?
Not surprisingly, every time an election is looming up the Liberals promise fast rail between Sydney and Newcastle.
Shadow Minister for Transport Jo Haylen said: “The Liberals had four years since the McNaughton report to show that they meant business when it came to faster and high speed rail. Instead, they did nothing.
“Planning for faster or high speed rail needs to be a serious endeavour, not a pre-election stunt. We’ve seen how the Government has failed to deliver on Parramatta Light Rail stage two, and how so many of their promised infrastructure projects have now been put on the backburner.
“The Government’s record of overpromising and then under delivering means they have very little credibility when it comes to faster or high speed rail.”
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said “I think this has become one of those issues for many voters where they look at it and see an election coming and they're almost assured that the New South Wales Liberal Party will stand up and promise it.
“As we get close to a state election, all of a sudden, the fast rail announcement’s been dusted off, pulled out of the bottom drawer and presented to the people of New South Wales in a media release.
“The Premier is going to stand up and promise hundreds of thousands of people that the travel time from Gosford to the Central Station will be 25 minutes but he's got an obligation to say when that exactly will happen.
“I think that's why a lot of people are cynical about this announcement.”
The reality of Dominic Perrott’s fast rail announcement is no more than to build two new electrified rail tracks between Tuggerah and Wyong, new platforms and station upgrades and new bridges, including over the Wyong River – a far cry from a fast train network between Sydney and Newcastle.
As previously reported by the Grapevine in April, when both the State Government and the then Morrison Government about a fast train, the new track work will only provide four parallel tracks of approximately 2.5-kilometres each between Wyong and Tuggerah – 10 kilometres in total. It will do absolutely nothing to provide a fast train service between Newcastle and Sydney. There are already passing loops at Gosford, Narara and Tuggerah, so, how many freight trains, or slow trains, need to be accommodated?
Any talk-up of a fast train or fast commuter service from Newcastle to Sydney is utter nonsense. A fast train requires long distances between stations, very few stops, and a relatively straight track. No 'fast train' in the world shares tracks with other services, serves as a commuter service, and winds around a river, as does the current rail between Woy Woy and Hawkesbury River Station.
Chris Minns said “I think the Premier is being a bit cynical when he says that travel times between Gosford and Central will be 25 minutes when he's only laying out 10 kilometres worth of track.
“We haven't seen a single track laid over the last decade and a bit. Now all of a sudden that's going to be turned around and this new piece of infrastructure will be provided? I'm very sceptical about it.
“If the Perrottet Government was re-elected in 2023, I guarantee you in the run up to the 2027 election, Mr. Perrottet or his successor will be standing on a platform somewhere promising fast rail to the people of New South Wales.”
The Sydney to Newcastle fast train announcement is just more political spin and hollow promises from a government looking to get re-elected and a project that will be left to once again gather dust in the filing draws of the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
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