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Business More. Strong smartphone sales raise hopes of Samsung turnaround Published 23 hours ago. Canadian housing starts decline 2. WeWork's financing lifeline hinges on SoftBank talks Published 23 hours ago. Japan's household spending rises for ninth month, outlook still fragile Published 23 hours ago. The predicted growth will increasingly test the railway. Crowding is likely to worsen on trains and station platforms, especially on the city's east-west transport artery, the T1 Western Line. Major relief to a bottleneck on lines in the central city from the new metro rail project is five years away, when the second stage under the harbour and the CBD is due to open.
Credit: Louie Douvis. While 24 new Waratah trains will be pressed into service on the existing rail network by winter, they will mostly replace decades-old S-Set trains, instead of increasing the size of the suburban fleet. Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins sums up the challenge for the rail operator: "Every time we think we can have plenty of spare trains, demand goes up, we put more services in and therefore we reach the limit of our train capacity or train fleet size.
Collins, who earned the nickname the "Tube man" when he was head of London Underground, says Sydney Trains has been increasing services by squeezing more out of its trains. Sydney Trains is squeezing more out of its fleet, including decades-old S-Set trains, in response to soaring demand from commuters. Credit: Kate Geraghty. Personally, I would like more and more Waratahs. The Berejiklian government is expected to unveil in the coming weeks the purchase of an additional 17 Waratah trains.
But even if it does order them, it will be at least two years before they enter service. The pressures on the existing railway are a reminder of the challenges of a population boom and the financing of the next generation of transport projects which will face whoever claims victory at the poll in March.
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Many of the projects in the planning, such as a north-south rail line in Sydney's outer west, remain largely unfunded. That figure does not include the cost of a station in the CBD. A driverless metro train at the new Tallawong Station in Sydney's north west. Those projects are in addition to the demands on government coffers from major upgrades and maintenance improvements to the existing suburban and regional rail networks.
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Martin Locke, an adjunct professor at the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at the University of Sydney, says the ability of the state to inject significant amounts of capital over the coming years into new public transport projects will be heavily constrained.
NSW's remaining 49 per cent stake in the WestConnex motorway is one of the last big-ticket items that could be placed on the auction block, after the sale in recent years of electricity assets, ports and the Snowy Hydro scheme. Locke, a former investment banker and infrastructure adviser, says greater fiscal restraints will force the next government to place a greater emphasis on prioritising projects.
With Sydney undergoing its biggest public transport build in decades, many people forget that building a rail line is a rare opportunity.
It is something not lost on Dick Day, who spent years as head of planning and timetabling at RailCorp. Labor has vowed to scrap the conversion of the Bankstown Line and cancel three toll roads promised by the Berejiklian government, and redirect the billions of dollars needed to build them to prioritising the new metro line from the CBD to Parramatta.
Day and several other former top rail executives are critical of the decision to convert the existing Bankstown Line between Sydenham and Bankstown into metro for the second stage of the multibillion-dollar project, arguing that it will remove the "relief valve" for the rail network.
It isn't going to fulfil the potential of that metro," Day says. It is a lost opportunity. It is over the future of the kilometre stretch of track from Bankstown to Sydenham that the Coalition and Labor diverge the most over public transport. Constance has repeatedly cited it as evidence of Labor "opposing everything", and the "point of difference" with the Coalition.
Old, crowded trains and maxed-out credit: Will the Sydney metro project sway voters?
In making a metro line from the CBD to Parramatta its top priority, Labor has panned the government for committing to major projects without showing how it will pay for them. While the political debate will sharpen in the lead up to the election, commuters simply want a well-functioning and reliable public transport system. Brian Swift, a retired carpenter, decided to move to the Hills District in the north-west 15 years ago because road traffic in the city's inner west "drove me mad". Swift says he has not made his mind up on who he will vote for in March.