Secret documents published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald have revealed that the NSW Liberals are holding Illawarra rail improvements ransom in favour of boosting a toll road as part of the F6 extension into Sydney CBD.
The documents prepared by bureaucrats within Transport for NSW indicate that NSW Government has been told that the Maldon-Dombarton rail link and measures to cut the current hour-and-a-half train commute from Wollongong to Central offer a “reduction in travel times (of the magnitude considered) would also have wider economic benefits for the residents of Wollongong…”
Illawarra State Labor MPs have been angered by revelations and suggest the secret documents shine a light on why the Government has been dragging its feet on improving rail services on the South Coast Line and supporting the case to complete the Maldon-Dombarton rail link.
They claim that the publication of the secret advice to the Government by Transport for NSW bureaucrats makes clear that Wollongong commuters will be used as cash cows for the F6 extension which will be built as a toll road.
Comments attributable to Ryan Park MP:
“The agenda of the NSW Liberals is now crystal clear: they intend boosting in every way possible the building of a toll road as part of the F6 extension while holding to ransom the improvement of the Illawarra’s rail links.
“NSW Labor’s priority will be improving the region’s rail links on the South Coast Line and building the Maldon-Dombarton rail link in partnership with the private sector.
“I’m not going to cop as the Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra my community being used as a cash cow for a privately-run-for-profit toll road.”
Comments attributable to Anna Watson MP:
“I think Illawarra commuters will be very angry reading the paper this morning to learn that the Government is giving priority to building a toll road rather than fixing up our rail system.
“My priority remains the construction of the Albion Park Rail Bypass and I call on the Government to get on with the job of getting shovels into the ground for this project.”
Comments attributable to Paul Scully MP:
“I am absolutely livid by what’s contained in these secret documents and the decision of the NSW Liberals to force my constituents into overcrowded trains on an already congested rail line heading into Sydney and back every day.
“My office already receives complaints from commuters who are squeezed into carriages like sardines and the Government refuses to do a thing about it.
“It’s now obvious that the Government is dragging its feet on fixing commuter rail congestion on the South Coast Line and refusing to go into bat for the Maldon-Dombarton rail link because they are interested in fattening up the profits on a toll road by forcing Wollongong commuters to pay for it.
“The Government’s own officials even refer to this approach as a “failure” with the lack of rail solutions being a “serious and significant shortcoming…”