Tuesday, 18 June 2024 07:41

Transport infrastructure investment fail would stifle economy, ruin communities, warn Western Sydney councils Featured

Train line in Western Sydney Train line in Western Sydney WSROC

The peak body representing councils in Greater Western Sydney, the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), has warned that Western Sydney residents face longer travel times, at greater cost and inconvenience, due to underinvestment in transport infrastructure that also threatens to strangle Australia’s third largest economy, worth $170 billion a year.

The grim forecast was delivered by WSROC Chief Executive Officer Charles Casuscelli to the NSW Government’s Legislative Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure hearings into ‘Critical transport infrastructure supporting the Western Sydney International Airport and Western Sydney Aerotropolis’, which wrapped up on Thursday 13 June 2024.

Sydney’s most rapidly growing region, Western Sydney is already home to 2.7 million people.

“By 2036 Western Sydney will grow by another 800,000 residents and contribute another 250,000 resident workers that will need to travel outside of Western Sydney for a job,” said Mr Casuscelli.

“WSROC is unaware of any plans, nor any funding commitments, towards transport infrastructure at sufficient scale or timeliness to deliver the roads and public transport capacity to address this particular growth challenge.”

Chaired by Lynda Voltz MP, the cross-party Committee has been inquiring into transport infrastructure options supporting the new Western Sydney International Airport due to open in 2026 and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, including how they will be integrated with Sydney's existing rail and road networks.

The Committee is also looking at how the transport infrastructure will be funded and consider the impact of potentially huge numbers of additional employment movements in the Western and Southwestern suburbs of Sydney, and how to reduce road traffic around the airport and surrounding region.

“The NSW government, to its credit, has committed $7.9 billion over four years to deliver the 23-kilometre ‘Sydney Metro–Western Sydney Airport’ rail link, though with just four new stations from St Marys through to the new airport and the Western Sydney Aerotropolis it will do very little to improve transport for Western Sydney residents.”

WSROC however is calling for the accelerated delivery of the North South/Western Sydney Airport Line from Campbelltown to the Hawkesbury in its entirety — a 65-kilometre route potentially accommodating 34 railway stations at two-kilometre spacings — including more than doubling the number of railway stations between St Mary’s and the new airport to at least twelve.

The NSW government has also allocated $1 billion in the state’s 2024-25 budget to provide roads connecting people and communities to the new Western Sydney International Airport, with additional funding provided by the federal government.

The new airport alone is expected to transit 10 million passengers a year once operational, with the surrounding aerotropolis supposedly generating some 200,000 jobs.

The WSROC CEO’s remarks before the Committee have been backed up by WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“The people of Greater Western Sydney have already endured decades of under-investment in the region’s transport infrastructure adversely impacting the liveability of Western Sydney communities,” said WSROC President, Councillor Barry Calvert.

“Unless there is substantial investment in new railway stations, for instance, in Western Sydney more than 560,000 extra people in our rapidly growing region won’t have appropriate access to trains within just 13 years, we will create even greater liveability challenges for our residents,” said Councillor Calvert.

“Essentially, we urgently need a serious commitment by both state and federal governments to improving the region's public transport infrastructure at a network scale— including expanding rail links between existing population centres and building more train stations to support the orderly development of new higher density communities around transport nodes.

“Without substantial investments in transport infrastructure, population growth on that scale will seriously impact quality of life, impede productivity, and retard the region's economic development and its contribution to the state economy.

“Investment in Western Sydney’s public transport network is also essential for addressing cost-of-living pressures associated with fuel and motorway tolls, too, and to improve access to services for vulnerable groups.

“Western Sydney’s over-reliance on private cars in the absence of adequate transport even threatens the New South Wales Government’s ability to reach its own Net Zero carbon emissions target.

To download a transcript of WSROC’s testimony before the Legislative Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure current and future public transport needs in Western Sydney, go to the link here.

Filter By