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Just $1m of promised $40m spent on Sydney train station security upgrades

EXCLUSIVE

Train safety: CCTV monitors have been cut, despite the promised $40 million program that was expected to pay for extra CCTV cameras and lighting improvements in stations.

Train safety: CCTV monitors have been cut, despite the promised $40 million program that was expected to pay for extra CCTV cameras and lighting improvements in stations. Photo: Sasha Woolley

The NSW government has spent just $1 million out of a promised $40 million on a program to improve safety at Sydney's train stations. It has also cut the number of staff that monitor security cameras at the city's stations.

In her early months in government - and while in opposition - Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian repeatedly emphasised the level of crime on Sydney's train system and promised she would spend $40 million on a ''park and travel safety program''.

The program was to have paid for extra CCTV cameras and lighting improvements at stations.

Promised she would spend $40 million on a "park and travel safety program": Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

Promised she would spend $40 million on a "park and travel safety program": Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian. Photo: Brockwell Perks

Ms Berejiklian and former premier Barry O'Farrell first promised the program in mid-2010.

On coming to government in March 2011, they said the $40 million would be spent by the middle of 2015. Figures obtained by Fairfax Media using freedom of information laws show Ms Berejiklian's department has spent less than 3 per cent of the promised funds and she is not promising to complete the program by next year's election.

The government spent $600,000 on the program in the 2011-12 financial year, nothing the year after, and has spent $488,000 this year.

"Security on the network has got worse - it certainly hasn't improved": Alex Claassens, Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary.

"Security on the network has got worse - it certainly hasn't improved": Alex Claassens, Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary. Photo: Edwina Pickles

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says seven positions have been cut from the unit that reviews CCTV footage and helps police track down those responsible for crimes, and five positions from the unit that monitors live footage.

''Security on the network has got worse - it certainly hasn't improved,'' said Alex Claassens, the union's NSW secretary.

''We've had quite a few instances in recent history where train crews have been attacked on the network. We would like to see a proper plan put in place that addresses the issue of security.''

Ms Berejiklian was asked if she was breaking her promise of a $40 million fund in four years.

She did not directly address the question, but said the government had more than 120 projects under way, or completed, to improve transport amenity and safety.

A spokesman for Transport for NSW said: ''Some projects have been slowed by delays in the release of some tenders, substantial rain delays at several sites and approval delays at some locations.''

The spokesman said the security and CCTV monitoring capabilities of Sydney Trains ''were not affected by a recent reduction in security positions, which were a result of improvements in technology, meaning fewer people are required to provide the same level of coverage''.

Labor transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said: ''The government promised to beef up security on public transport but they have done the opposite.''

The most recent report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that overall levels of crime on Sydney's rail system were low, though the risk increased significantly at different stations and at different times.

Central and Town Hall stations recorded the highest number of criminal incidents, but low rates due to the number of people that use them.

Newcastle and Wollongong have relatively high rates of crime, as do Penrith and Blacktown among major Sydney stations.

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