The closure of the T3 rail line will come at a huge personal cost to commuters

During the evening rush hour, the right-hand lane of Canterbury Road is congested with people turning onto residential streets. The left side takes up the rest of the traffic, which moves at a snail’s pace thanks to the stop-and-go buses.

The government’s proposed installation of dozens of additional buses to carry rush-hour train passengers will turn this slow-track into a parking lot as more commuters tire of buses and switch to their cars instead.

Jo Haylen - now Minister for Transport - was a critic of the project in the opposition.

Jo Haylen – now Minister for Transport – was a critic of the project in the opposition.Credit: Jessica Hromas

The subway was imposed on residents of south-west Sydney by the previous state government. There would always be amazing riots and little electoral cost for the coalition: the seats belonged exclusively to the Labor party.

The extent of the disruption has increased. Initially, the closure was to last six months; In the meantime it has increased to at least 12 and even 15 months. There is no guarantee that further delays or industrial action will not further aggravate the situation.

There was little justification for the coalition for a metro revamp beyond the development potential of the South West, where there are still small houses in large blocks barely 10km from the city, to use the T3 instead of a busy line like the T1 chose.

Labor was openly critical. In 2019, Summer Hill MP Jo Haylen – who is now Secretary of Transport and whose constituents in Ashbury, Hurlstone Park and Marrickville will be upset – argued that the government had failed to justify replacing a perfectly functioning rail line.


She also raised concerns that still linger among many in the South West; that the replacement buses will cause “traffic chaos…especially in combination with road diversions”. [from work on the metro] and other structural effects”.

Now it is Labor MPs – Haylen, Canterbury’s Sophie Cotsis, Bankstown’s Jihad Dib – who will unleash popular anger, already mounting due to bank holiday closures, late-night construction noise and constant disturbance on residential streets.

The Southwest and City subways will cost taxpayers more than $21 billion. But that will not cover the huge personal costs of the tens of thousands of residents whose lives depend on train travel and who are not being offered viable alternatives during the shutdown because there is no such thing.

The rest of Sydney will patiently point out that progress comes at a price. But that’s easy to tell when they’re not the ones paying for it.

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Justin Scaccy

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