Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : Volume 3 Number 1 Contents 26 futurebuilding Volume 3 Number 1
New South Wales plots transport revolution
The $8.5 billion NWRL will be the rst segment
of the network to run the high-frequency single-deck
services, with the line to be operated by the private
The decision to bring in the private sector
is important, as it breaks a century-long public
monopoly on passenger rail services in New South
Wales. By opening the North West sector up to
a private operator through a competitive bidding
process, the government is ensuring that globally
experienced private operators will come back with
smart and innovative bids to increase comfort and
quality, and drive down the costs of passenger rail
The metro-style operation planned for the North
West will see services terminate at Chatswood, with
passengers interchanging for services to the CBD.
Eventually, the plan is to build a second harbour
crossing, with trains from the NWRL running through
to the CBD, and joining a wider Sydney high-
frequency metro-style network.
Sydney is one of the only major cities in the
world without a single-deck, high-frequency metro
service. Even more unbelievably, with the Algiers
Metro beginning operation in November last year,
Australia is now the only inhabited continent without
a completely driverless metro train service.
With Sydney's population expected to swell to
six million by 2031, and to 7.5 million by 2050, the
government has made it clear that it needs to nd
solutions to the structure and operation of an ageing
rail network already plagued by bottlenecks.
On a 'no-change basis', the CBD, Western,
Northern, North Shore, Bankstown, East Hills and
Airport Lines -- and the North West Rail Link -- would
reach or exceed maximum capacity limits by 2031.
But under the government's plan, Sydney's rail
network would be able to carry an additional 90,000
to 100,000 passengers per hour, with the construction
of new train stations relieving pressure on crowded
The use of the private sector to help deliver the
state's public transport services has been a central
focus for the O'Farrell Government.
Earlier this year, Harbour City Ferries -- a 50/50
consortium of Trans eld Services Australia and Veolia
Transdev Australasia -- was granted the contract to
operate Sydney's ferry network under a franchise
That contract sees the New South Wales
Government retain ownership of the eet and
maintain control over fares and timetabling, with
Harbour City Ferries taking over the delivery of
The shift to franchising completed a process that
began with a 2007 report by Bret Walker SC, which
recommended franchising through competitive
tendering to drive up service quality and apply
downward pressure on the cost of provision.
The focus on service delivery has extended to
the state's bus sector, with Transport Minister Gladys
Berejiklian con rming in May that private sector bus
operating contracts in metropolitan Sydney will be
competitively tendered as they expire.
While change has been incremental, it has
been rapid and far-reaching. The reform to buses is
expected to be followed by the franchising of rail
services, lowering the cost of public subsidies.
Above all else, the reforms across the transport
space signify recognition that the status quo will not
sustain the state's transport networks through the
Of course, the improved planning of new projects
-- and better operation of existing transport services
-- will need to be accompanied by a step-change
in funding capacity. Asset sales, tolling and the
application of value-capture methods will all have to
be canvassed, debated and ultimately implemented
if the state is going to fund its very ambitious plans
for new motorways, rail links and light rail projects.
The public sector unions have been quick to point
to the structural reforms across the transport portfolio
-- and particularly the outsourcing of the ferries -- as
the 'thin end of the wedge'.
Every taxpayer and commuter in New South
Wales should be hoping they are right.
RIGHT: New South
Wales Premier Barry
continued from page 24
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