Too many roads, not enough rail

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Transport
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you needed any proof that the Transport Masterplan is about to be released, then it’s that key parts of it have begun to be leaked to the media. The newest details focus on the role that new roads will play Sydney’s future.

The O’Farrell government went to the last elections promising to build either the M4 East, M5 East, or M2-F3 link. its decision would be based on a report they commissioned with Infrastructure NSW that is set to be finalised in the next month. Importantly, the government only planned to build one of the three. However, the new Transport Masterplan is said to not only include all 3 of these freeways, but an additional freeway: the M6 to link Waterfall in Sydney’s South to the CBD by linking up to the M5 East near the Airport, with an estimated price tag of $10 billion.

M4 East and PERL

The proposed M4 East and Parramatta to Epping Rail Link are seen highlighted in red, along with the F3-M2 Link. Click on image for higher resolution. (Source: Transport for NSW Submission to Infrastructure Australia, August 2010)

Meanwhile, the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link has been dropped, but no additional heavy rail line (such as a Northern Beaches Line, or a rail line following a Parramatta Road, Victoria Road or Anzac Parade alignment) has been proposed in its place. In effect, the plan appears to be recommending more roads be built than was previously planned, while building fewer rail lines than was previously planned.

Action for Public Transport

Action for Transport plan from 1998. New roads are fluoro green, while new rail lines are red. The pink lines are bus T-Ways. (Source: NSW Government)

Compare this to the Carr Government’s 1998 Action for Transport plan, which proposed 5 new freeways (Eastern Distributor, M7, M2, Lane Cove Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel) and 8 heavy rail lines (Parramatta to Chatswood, Bondi Beach extension, Northwest, Airport, Strathfield to Hurstville, Glenfield Y-Link, Central Coast fast rail, Wollongong fast rail). While all 5 roads were built, only 1.5 of the rail lines were built: the Airport Line, and the Epping to Chatswood portion of the proposed Parramatta to Chatswood Line.

In both cases, rail underachieved in comparison to what was planned, while roads either met expectations (in the 1998 plan) or look to exceed expectations (in the current plan). Then again, this is all based on speculation from leaks of a report that is due to be released very shortly, so perhaps it’s better to reserve judgement until it’s made public.

  1. moonetau says:

    If this is true it is little short of madness. We’ve been planning and building motorways in Sydney since 1948 and learned nothing from it. That strategy was OK for a few years but it is clear now that more multilane roads in urban areas only creates more congestion and/or moves it from one place to another.
    This will not work in a carbon constrained future.

  2. Rob says:

    More roads and no new public transport … yep, sounds like NSW to me.

  3. Vito says:

    Surely if rail is build, everyone benefits. Rail users get more stations closer to where they live or work. Road users get less congested roads.

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