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Restore Inner West Line (RIWL) is a community action group, which has been active in the Auburn LGA (now Cumberland) and surrounding suburbs since 2013. We promote the interests of public transport; both passengers needs and infrastructure planning. RIWL thanks Cumberland Council for passing a motion in February 2018 to lobby for the reinstatement of the “City to Liverpool (and Bankstown) via Regents Park” train service for the Inner West Line. We make the following submission on the Draft Cumberland 2030: Our Local Strategic Planning Statement.
Comments on Heavy Rail
We believe that that heavy rail and sustainable development provide the most equitable outcomes for Cumberland. For example, the changes to Sydney Trains timetable since 2013 involving the T2 Inner West Line and T1 Western Line have been extremely detrimental to the growing population.
The removal of the Inner West Line’s “City to Liverpool (and Bankstown) via Regents Park” train service has added substantial demand on local roads and rail services at Lidcombe. Commuters that formerly enjoyed a direct train from stations such as Berala, Regents Park and Chester Hill now have to interchange at Lidcombe for another train to the City Circle. Travelling to and from Chester Hill now also requires an additional interchange at Birrong station.
Train services at arriving at Lidcombe are already full and are not adequately coping with the additional commuters from Berala, Regents Park, Chester Hill and the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA. Many commuters do not wish to interchange and instead drive to Lidcombe station, which has significantly increased traffic congestion and demand for parking.
The substantial population growth in Lidcombe, north Lidcombe along Parramatta Road and nearby Olympic Park adds significant pressure on Lidcombe, which furthers the urgent necessity to restore the Inner West Line’s “City to Liverpool (and Bankstown) via Regents Park” train service. It should also be noted that local history recounts the decision to construct a railway from Regents Park west to Cabramatta (which would become the Inner West Line in 1924) was to avoid the congestion of the Western Line from Lidcombe to Granville. (Source: Liberty Plains A History of Auburn NSW)
The removal of the Western Line’s express train services from Lidcombe, Auburn, Clyde and Granville is also of major concern given that a number of large developments nearby to the rail corridor were approved on the premise of adequate public transport in the area. And although Olympic Park is not within the Cumberland LGA, the restoration of the regular Central to Olympic Park train service (outside of special events) would also reduce passenger demand and overcrowding at Lidcombe station.
We support the proposal of EcoTransit Sydney (a well-respected public transport advocacy group) for the Pippita Express. This would be an express train from Lidcombe to a rebuilt Pippita station (near Parramatta Road) to Olympic Park returning to the Pippita then stopping at Strathfield and Central.
Comments on Sydney Metro
Restore Inner West Line has partnered with The Battler (a community action group in Auburn/Cumberland LGA) to form the Save T3 Bankstown Line (Save T3) campaign in 2018. We are concerned that Cumberland Council has been reluctant to defend the public transport interests of residents in Lidcombe, Berala, Regents Park and Chester Hill.
The Sydney Metro Southwest (Sydenham to Bankstown) removes the final direct train to City Circle for 9 stations including Berala, Regents Park and Chester Hill. Former rail executives John Brew, Ron Christie, Bob O’Loughlin and Dick Day have warned that 19,000 commuters would be forced to interchange. This furthers increases overcrowding at Lidcombe station.
A Sydney Metro single-deck train also has 70% less seats compared to the existing Sydney Trains heavy rail/double-deck train. Metro trains are designed for frequent stops between closely located stations in city centres and are not suitable for long distance travel such as from Sydney to Parramatta/Westmead to the Western Sydney Airport.
The Sydney Metro business model is based off Hong Kong’s MTR which involves large high-rise development along the railway corridor to fund the transport project. Although the current plans for the Metro Southwest are for a heavy rail to Metro interchange at Bankstown, it should be noted that original plans include Metro to Lidcombe (Platform 5) via Regents Park. The Statement Government has not confirmed whether it intends to extend the Metro north beyond Bankstown, which would result in substantial population growth on the southern side of the Regents Park ward.
Even though the State Government’s decision to convert Sydenham to Bankstown into Metro Southwest has irreversibly downgraded the Sydney rail network, there is still opportunity for the Metro West to be planned and constructed according to a heavy rail Sydney Trains’ standard for double-deck trains.
Comments on Light Rail
Restore Inner West Line is a supporter of improving and expanding heavy rail as a first preference in addressing the public transport needs of the community. We cannot support the Parramatta Light Rail’s extension from Carter St, Olympic Park to Lidcombe station if no guarantee can be obtained from the State Government regarding heavy rail remaining on the T7 Olympic Park Line.
The State Government has a history of replacing existing heavy rail services with light rail including in Newcastle and with the Parramatta Light Rail to replace the T6 Carlingford Line.
Light rail to Lidcombe station also puts at risk the future of heavy rail services for Berala, Regents Park, Chester Hill and stations on the western side (non-Metro) side of the T3 Bankstown Line. There have been suggestions in recent years for light rail to replace the non-Metro half of the Bankstown Line, a plan that would further worsen increase travel times for the Regents Park ward.
Comments on Bus Services and Roads
Current bus services especially in the South Granville and Regents Park wards are inadequate and infrequent. For example, the 908 bus from Bankstown to Merrylands via Auburn/Regents Park is an hourly service that finishes around 6pm on weekdays. This bus service does not currently suffice even for evening commuters as the full route is not serviced by the last few buses. Also, there is no service beyond Auburn Hospital (to Berala and Regents Park) on Sundays.
For residents in the former Auburn LGA to access Council services at Merrylands and the western side of Cumberland, this often involves extensive traffic delays or the payment of motorway tolls on the M4. The Mona Street and Wellington Road bridges across Duck River are heavily congested along with the approaches to Woodville Road from South Granville. There is also a lack of bridges over the Merrylands to Guildford railway line.
The Cumberland Loop Bus should also be expanded across the entire LGA. The Auburn Access Loop and the Rivers & Garden Loop can be a model for new routes in servicing all of Cumberland’s 5 wards. Serious consideration should also be given to increasing the existing loop bus’s frequency and service days. It is essential to be reducing dependency on car usage and reducing the number of cars parked on streets through sustainable development.
An integrated Cumberland LGA needs fast and efficient public transport connections, between local and nearby growth areas along with existing major centres such as Sydney CBD, Parramatta and Liverpool. We urge that Council adopts the following within the Cumberland 2030: Our Local Strategic Planning Statement.
Restore Inner West Line thanks Cumberland Council for the opportunity to comment on the Draft Cumberland 2030: Our Local Strategic Planning Statement. We hope that the assessment of Cumberland’s Access and Movement needs will prioritise heavy rail and sustainable development.
Roydon Ng (Spokesperson)
0426 500 330
This article first appeared on restoreinnerwestline.org.au
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