A RADICAL plan to convert large parts of the CityRail network to single-deck high frequency trains is closer to winning state government acceptance.
Detailed reports show senior bureaucrats have been told a multibillion-dollar overhaul of the system would be the cheapest and most efficient way to add capacity to CityRail during the next 25 years.
I'm sure that whilst the Sydney Morning Herald likes to report this sort of thing with colourful graphics and that government agencies like to appear to be doing something, the truth is that when it comes to building actual infrastructure which is costly, the NSW Government has a poor track record.
Maybe it's escaped planners that the reason why Sydney has double-deck suburban rolling stock at all was because in about 1960 a survey was done and it was decided that the easiest way to increase capacity wasn't to add more services, but to make better use of the services which already ran. The first of the Tulloch double deck trailers was introduced in 1964 with full power cars coming four years later.
When you consider that Tangaras were delivered four years late, that the Millennium Trains two years late and that the T-Card system which was supposed to be in place before the 2000 Olympics still hasn't been delivered, you can understand my skepticism that no NSW Government of any political colour has the competence to deliver... anything really.
Given that rolling stock is always likely to be late and that actual railway lines are even less likely to be built*, there is one possible statement in this article which is likely to be accurate:
One estimate shows costs of between $26 billion and $37 billion for adding capacity during the next 25 years. Without extra capacity through the CBD, trains will soon be so crowded in peak hours that services will need to be cut.
This is new. I don't think that I've ever seen a proposal to actively cut services before. Trains will be crowed, let's solve the problem by cutting services so that commuters will be jammed into even fewer trains. That makes complete sense doesn't it?
Sadly I think that that is what will happen though. Perhaps waved away under the premise that rolling stock will be replaced, I'm convinced that this is a ploy to reduce patronage of CityRail trains. By making Sydney's trains more uncomfortable and harder to use, the government can then spend less on them and ultimately divest themselves of the responsibilty, just like they did with the TAB, State Bank, GIO, the State Government Printing Office , the Homebush abattoir and the State brickworks, FreightCorp etc etc etc.
Somehow I think that the "decent and respectable people of New South Wales" will be taken for a ride yet again.
*There is the small issue I have with announcements of railways lines. It's shocking to think that none of the following rail lines ever came to fruition:
2009 West Metro - Westmead to Central via Silverwater, Strathfield and Five Dock
2008 North West Metro - Rouse Hill to the CBD via Epping
2008 CBD Metro - Rozelle, Pyrmont, Barangaroo, Town Hall, Central
2005 Redfern to Chatswood - Chatswood, Victoria Cross, Pitt St, Central, Redfern
2005 CBD Relief Line - Wynyard, "City West", Railway Sq, Redfern
2004 Western FastRail - Penrith to Wynyard via Blacktown, Parramatta and Olympic Park
1998 North West Rail Link - Rouse Hill to the CBD via Epping
1996 Bondi Beach - Extension of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line to Bondi Beach
1974 Merrylands to Green Valley - via Wetherill Park, Edensor Park, Bonnyrigg and Green Valley
1974 Hills District Line - Parramatta to Windsor via the Hills District
1974 Northern Beaches Line - Crows Nest, Cremorne, Mosman, Balgowlah etc.
1967 Eastern Suburbs Railway Line - to Kingsford via Bondi Junction, Randwick and UNSW
1932 Northern Beaches Line - Crows Nest, Cremorne, Mosman, Balgowlah, Manly and Mona Vale
1932 Eastern Suburbs Railway Line - Via St James station, incl. Woolahra and Oxford St.
1932 Rogans Hill Line - Rogans Hill to Westmead via Baulham Hills and Northmead