Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : July 2011 Contents 10 futurebuilding
Volume 2 Number 1
The public in New South Wales are well aware
of the problem – much of the anger unleashed on the
former government at the March election has been
attributed to taxpayers exhausted by growing travel
times and infuriated by perpetual broken promises.
In the lead-up to the March poll, the Coalition
portrayed the state’s dysfunctional transport system
as the emblem of the state’s broader infrastructure
nightmare. Not surprisingly, Premier Barry O’Farrell
has made rail transport a central focus for his new
government, committing to completing the South
West Rail Link and commencing the massive North
West Rail Link – a project that has been promised for
decades but never progressed.
To ease the crowding on trains, his government
has also promised 135 new express or semi-express
train services on lines including the Blue Mountains,
Penrith and Campbelltown. That’s significantly
fewer than the 400-plus services a day cut by the
former government to stabilise reliability on a failing
network, but new state Transport Minister Gladys
Berejiklian would say it’s the first step on a long
Berejiklian concedes she has a massive job
ahead of her to once again build people’s trust in the
system. It will take time to get it right, she says, but
the focus has to shift. By shifting that focus towards
customer services, Berejiklian believes more people
will trust the system – meaning more people will use
Significantly, she had only been in office for a few
weeks when an outage crippled Sydney’s train lines
and left 100,000 people stranded during the morning
peak. At the time, she said commuters should continue
to expect interruptions until the system was fixed.
‘We have inherited a system which has had
declining infrastructure and under-investment, which
has had a very ad hoc approach, which has been very
fragmented with a separate roads policy, separate rail
policy and separate bus policy,’ Berejiklian says.
‘We have essentially inherited a transport mess.
We are aware of that and we know the tough decisions
we need to make to improve things. That is why we
have embarked on this reform process.’
It could take 18 months or two years before
commuters start seeing real changes on the network.
‘We know it is not going to change overnight,’ she
says. ‘To build a world-class public transport system
takes time. We know there are going to be bumps in
the road, but we are also absolutely convinced that
we will have a system which services the public much
better than what they are receiving now.’
One of the new government’s first announcements
was the establishment of an integrated transport
authority – which will, for the first time, manage
planning and policy across all modes of transport.
Until now, roads policy and planning has been run
separately from public transport. As a result, planning
for the transport network sometimes did not enjoy
Sydney’s transport – rail,
road and harbour – is
in need of immediate
attention. THIS PAge:
Gladys Berejiklian addresses
the media. rIgHT:
Chatswood Station, Sydney.
The government has
promised new services on a
number of rail lines.
Gladys vows change; one step at a time
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