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NSW Opposition slams Parramatta-Epping rail link

The New South Wales Opposition has confirmed that if it wins the election it will divert $2.4bn in funding for Sydney’s Parramatta-Epping rail link to other rail projects including the South West and North West rail links.

By Jennifer Perry

Opposition treasury spokesman Mike Baird last week said if the coalition won the upcoming state election it would devote state funds to the South West and North West rail links and attempt to persuade the Federal Government to do the same.

Baird also reportedly pledged to defer Sydney’s Western Express or City Relief line – which would transport commuters between Sydney’s west to the CBD -as part of the $2.4bn in spending cuts.

During the federal election campaign last year, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and NSW premier Kristina Keneally announced $2.6bn in joint funding for the ill-fated Parramatta-Epping rail link, a move that was criticised because of a lack of planning. It failed to make it onto Infrastructure Australia’s (IA) second National Infrastructure Priorities report and was not allocated funding in the NSW Government’s 10-year transport plan, released last year.

Transport and infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese reportedly said that the government was “absolutely committed” to building the Parramatta-Epping rail link and the government would not renegotiate its commitments.

A spokesperson for the Opposition told Rail Express that it was not axing the Epping-Parramatta rail link and City Relief line (Western Express) as some media reports suggested.

&quotWe are merely saying that the $2.6bn in funds should be diverted to the South West and North West rail links,” the spokesman said.

Opposition transport minister Gladys Berejiklian said during the government’s 16 years in office it had not delivered one new rail line in full.

“Under Labor’s original plans, the North West rail link should have been up and running last year. Labor didn’t deliver, just like Labor won’t deliver its so-called Western Express – which in reality is the City Relief Line – a tunnel between Wynyard and Redfern,” Berejiklian said.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Public Transport Inquiry’s final report placed the North West rail link as one of Sydney’s highest transport priorities, with a second harbour crossing essential to getting both the North West and South West rail links up and running.

South West and North West Sydney are “population growth centres”, yet are not currently served by trains.