Planning approval has been granted for the conversion of the existing rail line between Sydenham and Bankstown as part of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest project.
Sydney Metro said on December 19 the conversion of the railway to a modern metro standard had received the tick of approval following extensive consultation with local communities and councils.
The Sydney Metro City & Southwest project is delivering a new underground train line between Chatswood and Sydenham via the Sydney CBD, but will utilise the existing corridor from Sydenham to Bankstown.
With planning approval now in place, the State said work will get underway to convert the line early next year.
The John Holland/Laing O’Rourke joint venture currently upgrading infrastructure at Sydenham station was recently appointed to undertake early works along the line, where work will soon begin to prepare, upgrade and make all 11 stations fully accessible.
Future work will include upgrades to tracks, stations and signals, with the contract to design the upgraded stations currently out to tender, the State said.
Recent work at Sydenham station to install a rail crossover will mean existing Sydney Trains services will not be impacted by the closure and conversion process, the State says.
But the Rail, Tram and Bus Union has criticised the project, arguing that by converting the railway and incorporating it into the new Sydney Metro line, the State is effectively privatising the rails between Sydenham and Bankstown.
“This is just another example of this Liberal Government putting their own privatisation ideologies ahead of commuter interests,” RTBU state secretary Alex Claassens said.
“The construction of the metro line is just a permit for overdevelopment in an area that is already suffering from congestion, and the metro won’t help that at all.
“If commuters think it’s gridlocked now, it’s only going to become worse when this heavy rail is removed and privatised. Tax payer money would’ve been far better spent by upgrading and extending our current rail network, not ripping it up.”
The union says the decision to make Sydney Metro trains driverless puts the safety of commuters “at serious risk”.
The State says the project will see an air-conditioned train arrive every four minutes at all stations along the line during peak, and an ultimate capacity of a metro train every two minutes in each direction under the Sydney CBD.
Sydney Metro said the Bankstown Line creates a significant bottleneck as it merges with other railway lines close to the Sydney CBD, including the Airport and South Line and the Inner West and Leppington Line.
By moving Bankstown Line services to the new standalone metro system, Sydney Metro says it will remove the bottleneck and provide more capacity on the existing network across Sydney.
Sydney Metro City & Southwest is targeted to open in 2024.