Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, Passenger Rail

Greens slam Sydenham-Bankstown metro upgrade EIS

Sydenham to Bankstown line. Photo: Planning NSW

The New South Wales Greens have criticised the recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Sydenham to Bankstown section of the Sydney Metro project, calling it a “complete joke”.

The upgrades to the line, including converting the track so that it can carry the Metro’s single-deck carriages, are to cause major disruptions for train-users in the South West: four annual scheduled maintenance closures will be established, while additional periodic closures will be scheduled at night and on weekends and school holidays.

Moreover, in the period before the opening of the Metro services in 2024, a closure of the line between three to six months will be implemented.

Greens MP and transport spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, claimed the planned transformation of the line was just a means of privatising a “perfectly functional” train service for Sydney’s South West.

“This is not only poor planning, but a complete waste of money that should instead be spent on expanding the rail network to underserved areas,” Dr Faruqi said.

Faruqui also took aim at the environmental impacts of the project, along with the ostensible biodiversity-preserving strategy contained in the government’s EIS.

The EIS claims that construction compounds for the project will be placed in already cleared areas to limit vegetation clearance, and areas in which the threatened Downey Wattle species grows.

Faruqui said the government’s scant plans to protect the environment were laughable.

“We know from the EIS that the project will impact threatened ecological communities, and the biodiversity offset strategy is a complete joke. The government has already shown its disregard for the environment, and this is just more proof,” she said.

“The Government is using the Metro project as a ripe opportunity to massively overdevelop the area from Sydenham to Bankstown. This is nothing but a toxic mix of overdevelopment and privatisation.”

The Green MP’s comments echo some of the criticisms levelled against the project by NSW Labor. Opposition Leader Luke Foley called the Bankstown metro upgrade a “property play” by the government.

“People don’t get a new rail line,” Foley said. “Residents get their existing rail line shut for 16 months and 100,000 new residents. The point of rail upgrades should be to add to the rail network.”

The EIS remains open for public feedback until 8 November 2017.