Monday: Opal rolled out to 24 bus routes on Upper North Shore
Opal cards can now be used on 24 bus routes operating in the Kuring-gai and Hornsby region. These include all routes between 556 and 599. It can also be used on the 333 bus route between the Sydney CBD and Bondi Beach, as well as all trains and ferries. The next buses to become Opal ready are expected to be in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, with Opal readers to be rolled out to all buses by the end of 2014. Light rail is to become Opal ready in 2015.
Wednesday: Road upgrades and new rail line for Badgerys Creek Airport
The Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced $3.5bn in funding for roads around the proposed site of Badgery’s Creek Airport, with $2.9bn to be provided by the Commonwealth and $600m by NSW. A corridor for extending the current South West Rail Link through to the airport and then up to the Western Line will also be preserved, including a tunnel and cavity for a station under the airport runway. While the roads are mostly funded by the Commonwealth and expected to be completed in time for the airport’s opening in the middle of next decade, the rail line is not expected to be opened until after the airport is completed and will have to be funded entirely by the NSW Government.
Thursday: Gladys Berejiklian to stay on as Transport Minister
The Premier Barry O’Farrell’s surprise resignation on Wednesday has resulted in the Treasurer Mike Baird replacing him as Premier. The Transport Mininster Gladys Berejiklian becomes Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, but retains the Transport portfolio. There was speculation that she may have made a run for the top job or given the Treasurer’s position.
The new Premier Mr Baird has been a strong supporter of the state’s “asset recycling” policy, where state owned assets are sold off in order to fund the construction of new assets. It is speculated that the sale of the state’s electricity poles and wires could raise as much as $30bn in proceeds that could fund infrastructure projects like the North West Rail Link, Second Harbour Crossing, and light rail from Parramatta to Macquarie Park or Castle Hill, but the outgoing Premier Mr O’Farrell had been uncomittal about taking privatisation of the poles and wires to the next state election.
Thursday: Final Waratah train delivered to Sydney
The last of the 78 Waratah trains has been delivered to Sydney, almost 3 years since the first one began carrying passengers and almost 4 years since the first test train arrived. The Waratah trains now make up almost half the Sydney Trains fleet, operating on all lines except for T4 (Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra) and T6 (Carlingford).
Friday: Randwick Council to provide $68m in funding for light rail
Randwick City Council has announced its intention to provide $68m over 5 years for the CBD and South East Light Rail project. It is also pushing for the line to be extended to Maroubra Junction, from the current terminus in Kingsford, as well as for additional new parking spaces to replace those that will be lost as part of the project. The light rail line has previously received a pledge of $220m in funding from Sydney City Council. The project is estimated to cost $1.6bn and will be completed by 2019/20.