Fowler is right to be cynical about the NSW government's planned
metro railway. After all, Action
for Transport 2010, launched in 1998, was supposed to see us have
a railway line from Chatswood to Parramatta, a North West Rail Link, 7
rapid bus transitways and an extensive bicycle network. Also started by
2010 was to be a new line linking Strathfield to Hurstville, a link to
allow trains to run from Fairfield to Hurstville, a railway to Bondi
Beach, and a pony for every child in NSW. Instead the only parts that
were implemented as publicised were the roads projects. This is
precisely what transport activists lobbying for public transport
predicted at the time.
The problem we have is that roads can be started and completed
within an election cycle. Heavy rail and the like takes much more
time. So our gormless politicans have every incentive to talk
about public transport while doing nothing.
What's more, our government is still working to the 1945 County of
Cumberland Main Road Development Plan, Sydney's answer to Los Angeles,
where freeways have been such a success. Just have
a look and see how much of it they've managed to build. Notice
how the next links in the motorway network are still those from
this 1945 planning document?
Now if you were serious about new rail in Sydney, there are two
areas that urgently need attention.
The big bottleneck is Central station going into the City Circle.
At this point you have seven lines reduced to two, which causes
obvious problems. My solution to this would be to install a very
fast, very regular metro-style line underneath the platforms at
Central and connecting to the city. All the suburban trains then
stop at Central (except the through trains to North Shore and
Eastern Suburbs) and passengers change to the metro for the final part
of the journey. This system, of course, requires that the metro be
incredibly regular, every five minutes as a minimum for peak hour, and
the interchange be cleverly thought out. It's basically the same
system used in Paris (RER and metro) and Tokyo (JR and subway).
The second big thing that's required is a vast new network of
suburban lines. There are huge swathes of Sydney that don't have
railways, with the city expanding in all directions even further out
of the reach of public transport. A massive programme building lines
to these areas will improve many social indicators for these areas by
improving transport. After all, what do you think 12-17 year olds do
when they can't get our of their suburban hell because there's no
public transport? That's right, they fuck, commit crimes, take
smack. Here's my prediction: Castle Hill will experience a crime wave
in the next ten years or so, precisely because of this factor. Rouse
Hill will be a bit later.