The reassessment of plans for an extension of Metro West comes after the government on Tuesday committed to converting part of Bankstown’s T3 rail line to carry driverless underground trains.
The upgrade of an eight-mile rail link between Bankstown and Sydenham will cost an additional $1.1 billion, allowing tens of thousands of rail commuters to rely on buses for 12 months beginning in the third quarter of next year.
The interim review revealed the prospect of delays of up to a year for work not yet commissioned on Metro West, the country’s largest public transit project, to fund the additional $1.1 billion needed for the Conversion of the Bankstown line will be needed.
However, it warned that changes in “procurement timelines” would most likely cause Metro West to be delayed beyond its planned 2030 opening date and drive up the cost of the project. Sydney Metro has previously considered a number of scenarios that would delay the opening of the Metro West rail line until 2034.
Prime Minister Chris Minns said the review would look at other funding options and the government would release information on Metro West and other projects later in the year.
He has left open the possibility of levying levies – often referred to as appraisals – on developers and other large landowners who profit from the appreciation of real estate through public infrastructure like Metro West. “I’m not closing the door. “We are looking at possible revenue measures that could keep money flowing into the project and sustain and justify costs,” he said.
Faced with the shortage of bus drivers, Transport Secretary Jo Haylen said the government had started planning 12 months before the Bankstown line was closed to ensure there are dedicated bus routes, including some express services, for commuters disrupted by the project. “We don’t want to sugarcoat this – it will be disruptive to passengers on the Bankstown line for 12 months,” she said.
Despite the looming disruption to commuters, Liverpool’s Liberal Mayor Ned Mannoun said the conversion of the Bankstown line into a full-fledged tube service was necessary.
“I don’t want to downplay the inconvenience, but we need significant investment in public transport to handle population growth,” he said. “The closure is one step back and five steps forward.”
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