No progress on Parramatta to Epping Rail Link funding

Posted: March 28, 2012 in Transport
Tags: , , , , ,

The Australian newspaper claimed recently that the NSW and Commonwealth governments are “no closer to resolving their differences on the Epping-Parramatta rail link [PERL] than on state election night, a year ago”. The Commonwealth government pledged at its last election to provide $2.1 billion of funding for the PERL, while the NSW government pledged at its last election to prioritise the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL) over the PERL and wants that $2.1 billion to be provided for the NWRL instead.

The article quotes Commonwealth Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese as saying that:

“It’s extraordinary that the NSW government have had this funding on the table and yet haven’t responded to correspondence. The NSW government is the only state government that seems incapable of basic dealings between governments. I don’t have this problem with anyone else” – Anthony Albanese (23 March 2012)

Responding to this, NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says that her government has:

“told him repeatedly — in departmental correspondence and submissions — that our priority rail projects are the northwest rail link and the southwest rail link. The only political paralysis comes from the federal government” – Gladys Berejiklian (23 March 2012)

This suggests that either resolving this issue is not an immediate priority for the two governments or that neither is willing to budge from their existing position. If it is the former, then there remains hope that a compromise solution will eventually be reached (perhaps Ms Berejiklian is waiting for the next federal election in the hope that a new Abbott led Liberal government will be easier to negotiate with, or that the threat of loss for the federal Labor Party will give her an edge in negotiations). However, if it is the latter then this can only lead to a lose-lose situation where nothing happens and the infrastructure deficit in NSW is added to.

Parramatta to Epping Rail Link

The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, as part of the greater Parramatta to Chatswood Rail Link. The Eastern portion between Epping and Chatswood was finally constructed in 2009, leaving the Western postion unbuilt. (Source: Historical NSW Railway Timetables)

Given that both the NSW and Commonwealth governments went to their last elections promising to build the PERL and NWRL respectively, I can understand the problem arising from neither government wanting to break its promise. But a compromise solution is really the only way to break the deadlock, and the only way to arrive at this is through negotiations and by considering other, innovative, solutions to Sydney’s transport problems. I’ve previously written about how light rail or bus transit ways have been suggested as a way to create a short term connection between Parramatta and Epping/Macquarie, which would provide a stop gap for the missing link until the PERL is constructed to provide a solid long term solution. The form of transport solution should not be the focus, instead the focus should be on getting a more efficient transport connection to build capacity, one that can be build in the near future and within a certain budget.

In December of 2011, I sent letters to (1) Anthony Albanese, (2) Gladys Berejiklian, (3) Parramatta City Council and my local MP (4) Bruce Notley-Smith, on the issue of arriving at a compromise solution to the PERL funding problem, suggesting the bus transit way as a possible compromise solution. The responses I received were as follows:

1. Office of Anthony Albanese, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport (Commonwealth)

Cristina Mojica, Acting General Manager for Rail and Intermodal, wrote that the Australian government has provided funding of “$12.2 billion to 2013-14 on road and rail project [sic]…also committed and additional $2.1 billion from 2014-15 to construct the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link”.  She then argues that “public transport is primarily a responsibility for the New South Wales Government” and that my letter has been forwarded to the NSW transport minister’s office for consideration.

It does appear like quite a cop out that the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure can on one hand boast about how much infrastructure funding they have provided and where they have directed it to, then defend its decision to fund certain projects but not others by pointing out that these decisions should be made at the state level. The very decisions that it is insisting on making itself in choosing to fund the PERL over the NWRL.

2. Office of Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Transport (NSW)

Kate Foy, General Manager for Customer Service, indicated that my letter had been forwarded to Transport for NSW for advice on the matter. I have yet to receive a follow up response.

3. Parramatta City Council

David Gray, Manager for Transport Planning, writes that the council is aware of the bus transit way proposal, and that though there were “possible advantages”, that there were also “disadvantages of T-Ways including the congestion created with the large number of terminating buses in Parramatta city centre and the lack of suitable layover space”. For this reason, the council is seeking funding for a light rail feasibility study. While I was disappointed to hear that they were not putting more options on the table, this was the only response I received that understood that a compromise solution was the only way to progress in this situation.

4. Office of Bruce Notley-Smith, Member for Coogee (NSW)

I have yet to receive a response.

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Comments
  1. Hi
    Parrahub http://www.parrahub.org.au/ would be a way to break the deadlock without anyone losing face as well as providing 15,000 free parking spaces adjacent to Harris Park station.
    Regards Eddy Barnett

  2. Valiant says:

    This corridor DESERVES more than some stinking Bus T – Way! Get that outta your mind man! It does matter what mode it is 100%, with any form of rail in this corridor being greatly superior by a long shot! Incidently, I lobbied like an a****** for the PERL to MPs eversince it was axed 15 years ago!

  3. Tim says:

    Your articles relating to the PERL are so pessimistic. Try and be hopeful. Think of the best or what can be, rather than the worst or what cant be. Im tired of that after 20 years! I agree with Valiant…I want the PERL built bad.

  4. Dennis says:

    NONE of this wouldve happened IF both Bob Carr & Michael Costa hadn’t been so pig-headed back in 2003 & drove NSW into the ground! Just read “Betrayed” by Simon Benson. His new book is out now in all bookshops & it reveals all. THE CARLINGFORD LINE DESERVES BETTER……AND HAS DESERVED BETTER SINCE IT OPENED IN 1902! THAT’S MORE THAN 100 BLOODY YEARS AGO!

  5. It’s great to see this issue has sparked some passion. Whatever the specific views, I’m always encouraged to see people who feel strongly about improving the transport infrastructure situation. Great to see lobbying of MPs too. Things like that make a much bigger difference than just complaining about it to the person sitting next to you on the bus!

    On the specific issue of the PERL, I would point out that the current government’s policy is to defer its construction until the 2030s and that I merely explained that building the NWRL was an election promise. In an ideal world, everything would get built tomorrow, but in the real world I’m the sort of person who doesn’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. Therefore, my view is that it’s better to get something in the near future to assist with the Parramatta-Macquarie corridor until the PERL is eventually built in another 2 decades (or more).

    I guess it all comes down to a different interpretation of “optimistic”.

  6. […] No progress on Parramatta to Epping Rail Link funding […]

  7. […] light rail could be a sufficient solution to the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link corridor (here and here), given that heavy rail appears to have dropped off the radar. In this case, I am going to do the […]

  8. Finbar says:

    Infrastructure NSW have now suggested an allocation $500 million to a Parramatta – Epping T-Way in their 20 year plan. For that outlay the Federal Government will contribute $2.1 billon to complete the whole rail line to Chatswood. The State Govt is financially incompetent and even more stubborn than was possible to believe. This government is allowing itself to be manipulated by “Roads at all cost” Nick Greiner, who has not been elected and has a vested interest in building roads. This Govt is beginning to make the previous chaotic Labor Govt reasonable by comparision.

  9. The cost of the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link has since been revised upwards, from $2.6bn to $4.4bn: https://transportsydney.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/will-the-parramatta-to-epping-rail-link-be-built-any-time-soon/

    So with federal funding, it would still cost $2.3bn to the State Government, compared with $1bn for light rail or $500m for BRT (despite no federal funding for the latter two).

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