Maritime and Transport

Is the NSW State Government backing the right transport projects to break Sydney free from its congestion woes?

21 May 2013, by Informa Australia

With an array of projects being implemented by the NSW Government in the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, we ran a poll to see if the projects being prioritised were most likely to help reduce the grid lock in Sydney.

Backing the right projects? Our industry poll suggest otherwise.
Backing the right projects? Our industry poll suggest otherwise.

The Informa poll conducted over the last month revealed that 37 out of 42 industry experts disagreed that the projects being prioritised by the NSW Government would help reduce congestion.

Many of the poll participants believe that the biggest way to tackle congestion was to improve public transport uptake and to create new economies through the connection of Parramatta to the rest of Sydney.

We also spoke to some of the upcoming NSW Transport Infrastructure speakers to get a clearer insight on some of the projects, and what they think would be the best investment to help reduce congestion.

Councillor John Mant, City of Sydney
The second harbour crossing for heavy rail is without doubt the most beneficial of all priority projects because it increases all metro network rail line capacity by 50 per cent, allowing continued growth not only of the CBD, but also of the communities that line the rail corridors.  That enables density of both residential and commercial development to increase without corresponding congestion.  Dollar for dollar it delivers more benefit to a far broader section of the community than any other project in the Master Plan.

In the medium term, the WestConnex project may have the potential to unlock Port Botany capacity, but it is severely compromised by the addition of general traffic links to the City West Link and the CBD.  However, the core component of linking the Port to the M4/M7 to get containerised trucks NSW_272x70from the port to the freight and logistics management companies in Western Sydney is possibly valuable.  Of course, if the same $ value was invested in rail capacity the same outcome might be achieved in a more sustainable manner.

Mr Gen Okajima, General Manager, Central Japan Railway
Sydney is a beautiful city, with many natural attributes and a global reputation that draws business to the city. However, it is also rapidly becoming one of the most congested cities in the Western world, at risk of discouraging domestic and international visitors. The NSW government’s decision to include a revitalisation of the rail network as a priority project in the current transport plan is one of the best ways to ensure the future prosperity  of Sydney and to ensure it continues to attract world recognition for all the right reasons. Although road networks are a necessary part of city life, city planners around the world have already learned that building roads is only part of the solution – experience shows that just building more roads only encourages more cars into an already congested network, and therefore cannot be an effective solution to congestion. Without investing in a reliable, world-class rail transportation network, cities will continue to be held back by slowing productivity and congestion issues. That is why cities around the world are turning to rail and high speed rail to create a more reliable, energy efficient and productive future, and why it is encouraging to see Sydney investing in its own prosperous rail future today.

Professor Graham Currie, Chair of Public Transport, Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University
Investment is about new stuff.  Sydney needs “new stuff”.  I have no idea if RailCorp is investing in the right projects.  However I know it costs twice as much to invest in new stations with twice as much staff.  We can get far more new railway stations in Melbourne for the same money Sydney puts into its railway.  It’s about efficiency and value for money…. you can have twice as much impact if a dollar of investment gives you twice as many stations.  It’s not which project gets you impact it’s the value you get for your dollar that gets you impact.

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