Good point and I'm sure there is a lot of truth in it, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the thrust of the story is untrue, again with the minister seemingly keeping quiet about it, unless there was a more detailed submission edited out. Time will tell. Reduced spending due to reduced need for spending is one thing, and if that's all it is, good... If they have actually cut into funding needed to maintain reliability, the next NSW ALP government should be elected in time to increase spending and cop the blame for the cost blowouts.
I'm suggesting that "all that glitters is not gold" - just because the media paint something as such, it doesn't mean we should be brainwashed into believing it. I have just picked ONE example from ONE aspect of the budget to comment on. I have little doubt that similar reasoning could have been found for all of the so called "cuts", they just don't spring to mind immediately.
That said, I cannot provide evidence to the contrary that your comments about cutting impacting on reliability to be incorrect. The main point I was trying to make is that everyone is quickly rushing to condemn the recent brand shift, when really there is a lot more going on behind the scenes. I'm trying to advocate a "wait and see" approach, because we all know hindsight is 20/20...
The crossovers being removed from Ashfield have been booked out and quietly rusting away for a year already. They were expensive to maintain but also very useful in that busy six track section.
I'm aware the points have been booked out for some time. That removes the impact of them "failing" through lack of detection throwing signals back to stop, true. That doesn't remove the cost of inspecting and maintaining them so that they don't fail after repeated train movements. That doesn't mitigate for the fact that they were wooden sleepered on an otherwise concrete section of track. That doesn't remove the tangle of additional OHW required to facilitate trains changing tracks. That doesn't fix the poor quality track bed that they were on. Booking them out doesn't magically create a giant windfall in the budget, there are still many "weak points" that could delay the network were they to fail. Removing them, digging the roadbed out and starting again means we now have brand new track to work with.
As for their usefulness, I'd dispute that. I can think of a mere handful of occasions in which they actually would have been useful in a delay. As for using them during trackwork, Train Planning is competent enough to work around one set of missing turnouts, and trackwork since they were booked out has been carried on with a minimum of fuss. They were slow points, and involved crossing opposing traffic, so any time saved by changing tracks would be lost from the 25km/h speed, or by blocking an opposing movement.
Better to rip them out, along with all of the 25km points at Homebush, Strathfield and Macdonaldtown, and replace them with 50-60km/h crossovers at Strathfield and Macdonaldtown to speed up trains changing tracks and prevent delaying opposing services.
Blindly clinging to steam-age infrastructure and paying through the nose for little benefit is a fools game. The government and the infrastructure section know this, and are acting accordingly. Fantastic, this is the sort of thing that continues a long trend of consistent capital works on our existing railways to bring them out of the dark age of steam and into the 21st Century.