Plan for new River Rail link to connect Sydney’s south and west

The Georges River Council is making the case for a new rail line linking Kogarah with Parramatta, via Bexley North and Bankstown.

The line, dubbed “River Rail” would provide a link between the T4 Illawarra Line, the T8 South Line, the T3 Liverpool Line, and the T1 Western line, all of which are currently only linked via the City Circle.

In a report released by the council, which stretches from Kogarah to Hurstville and Riverwood in Sydney’s south, the construction of a new corridor linking the area’s radial train lines would enable greater access to employment and education. Currently, the area has the lowest levels of public transport accessibility, with only 24 per cent of dwellings located within 30 minutes of a metropolitan centre via public transport.

The proposal, estimated to cost $10.5 billion, has an indicative alignment from Kogarah to Bexley North, with a new stop near Roselands before a connection at Bankstown, Chester Hill and Granville, via South Granville, and then terminating in Parramatta.

According to Mayor of Georges River Council Kevin Green, the new rail line would enable a true 30-minute city.

“The River Rail connection between Kogarah and Parramatta is a critical project which will transform the future of Sydney and the only way that the NSW State Government’s 30-minute city goal can be achieved for the South District,” said Greene.

“This vision, which strives to create a city where most residents live within 30 minutes of their jobs, education and health facilities, services and great places, requires investment in direct public transport links like the River Rail.”

The report highlights that without the link, there is little connection to the growing central river city, centred on Parramatta, for Sydney’s southern suburbs. The link would also enable further connections to the future parklands city and Aerotropolis.

Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf said that the proposed line would move Sydney’s network away from a radial network with the Sydney CBD as the main interchange.

“There has been much focus on the development and improvement of other areas of Sydney in recent years, such as the Aerotropolis in Western Sydney, and it is now time acknowledge and invest in the role of Sydney’s South District in our future city.”

Transport for NSW’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy indicates the connection between Hurstville and Parramatta as a “city-shaping corridor” but does not specify whether rail would be the preferred transport mode. In the Greater Sydney Commission’s Metropolis of Three Cities plan, the connection is identified as a train link investigation/visionary.

Rail the next step for economic stimulus: Committee for Sydney

The Committee for Sydney has prioritised infrastructure investment as essential to the viability of Sydney and Australia.

Responding to the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package to address the COVID-19 pandemic, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, Gabriel Metcalf wrote that infrastructure should be included in future rounds of stimulus. In particular, Metcalf highlighted the importance of rail projects.

“Medium-sized projects like More Trains, More Services in Sydney or the level crossings program in Melbourne, deliver huge benefits to commuters and to the economy. Even some larger projects could begin construction within 12-18 months if funding were allocated (most importantly, the initial tunnelling packages for Metro West),” wrote Metcalf.

While Metcalf argued that infrastructure spending had fallen out of favour as the time it took to see projects to completion has increased, the early stages of an infrastructure project are as valuable to the wider economy as other forms of stimulus.

“The planning work counts as stimulus too. The engineers, architects, and designers are also going to need jobs,” wrote Metcalf.

Other positives noted by the Committee for Sydney included the long-term benefit of infrastructure, beyond the immediate crisis, and the value of infrastructure investment as a signal to improve business confidence.

While many infrastructure projects were listed in the Infrastructure Australia Priority List, the Committee for Sydney noted that other rail projects are also in need of investment. These include, metro from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park, Kogarah, and Epping; expansion of Sydney Light Rail to Green Square; and fast rail from Sydney to Newcastle and Wollongong.

Mayor of Georges River Council Kevin Greene welcomed the comments from the Committee for Sydney, according to comments in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader.

“Georges River Council warmly welcomes the support of this rail connection – it will completely transform the possibilities for Kogarah and fulfil the role envisaged for it in the GSC’s planning,” said Greene.

Transport agency looks to improve public transport at night for women

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has joined with the Greater Sydney Commission and Committee for Sydney to address women’s safety concerns when travelling at night.

The agencies launched the Greater Sydney Women’s Safety Charter as well as an Innovation Challenge to improve perceptions and experiences of travelling, said TfNSW deputy secretary greater Sydney, Elizabeth Mildwater.

“We know we can do more to make women feel and be safer when travelling through the city at night, which is why we’ve partnered with the Greater Sydney Commission and Committee for Sydney to co-design the new Women’s Safety Charter,” said Mildwater.

The Charter encourages organisations to look at the whole of their response to the issue of women’s safety, including how incidents are reported, how data is collected and shared, gender equality in design roles, and exhorts organisations to elect leaders to reinforce values around women’s safety.

The Innovation Challenge portion of the announcement hopes to accelerate technologies which can improve women’s safety when travelling at night. Pitched to start ups as well as established companies, the program will be delivered through TfNSW’s Digital Accelerator.

“Over the past few months we have met youth advocates, young women, start-ups, safety experts and our partners to create a defined problem statement to take into the challenge,” said Mildwater.

Launching the charter, chief commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, Lucy Turnbull, said that a safe city for women is a safe city for all.

“Although Greater Sydney is one of the safest cities in the world, more needs to be done to ensure everyone feels safe, confident and included so they can fully participate in city life. This brings wider social, cultural and productivity benefits,” she said.

“I’ve long said that a city that works for women, works for everyone. The Women’s Safety Charter is designed to help participants promote, plan for, design and operate places where people of all ages feel safer.”

In the Committee for Sydney’s 2019 Safety After Dark report, the second most likely location for bad incidents or places was public transport, with buses considered safer than trains, and ferries considered the most safe. The report recommended that the varying experiences of different groups of night city users be factored into the planning and design of cities.