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NSW government's electricity sale may help fund train station for Barangaroo

Date

Nicole Hasham

Hopes: Barangaroo's success rests on public transport use.

Hopes: Barangaroo's success rests on public transport use. Photo: Nic Walker

A new train station at Barangaroo is on the cards as the Baird government moves to privatise electricity assets to fund massive infrastructure projects.

The government is considering a host of new train stations, including at Barangaroo, where there are fears current planning for public transport is inadequate.

The success of Barangaroo, at the western edge of Sydney’s central business district, rests on public transport use – targets envisage 96 per cent of people arriving by means other than private cars. However, the government has so far committed only to building a new ferry wharf.

It says transport links to Barangaroo would also be improved by a walkway from Wynyard station. But that station is already at capacity and will have to accommodate another 13,000 people a day within a decade, according to predictions by the NSW Auditor-General.

A Transport for NSW spokesman says Barangaroo will be among a host of new train stations canvassed as part of community consultation for a proposed new rail network, known as Sydney Rapid Transit.

The government says the network, which involves a second rail harbour crossing, will relieve transport bottlenecks plaguing commuters at peak times. 

More than 23,000 people are expected to live and work at Barangaroo, and an estimated 33,000 extra people would visit every day.

Transport expert Garry Glazebrook, an adjunct professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, said it “makes sense” to connect the new harbour crossing to the western edge of central Sydney, under Kent or Sussex streets, to cater for a massive growth in floorspace in the next decade.

This would also allow for a new station west of Town Hall, serving Chinatown and Darling Harbour.

Another option, closer to the one outlined by the government on Tuesday, would see the rail crossing enter the eastern side of city, near Circular Quay. This would better integrate with existing stations, Dr Glazebrook said.

“My view is it can work either way. No one route can satisfy every desire, but you can’t afford to build too many of these things,” he said.

Previously proposed transport links to Barangaroo have included a metro station as part of former Labor premier Nathan Rees' planned line to Rozelle.

Opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said a station at Barangaroo could also have been built if Labor’s proposed CBD relief line “was not dumped by Minister Berejiklian in the first budget”.

She accused Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian of abandoning the government’s transport planning and “plucking new stations out of the air” to back the electricity sale.

Retired transport planner and writer Sandy Thomas, who was a member of the Herald's independent public transport inquiry in 2009 and 2010, said the new rapid train line announced this week was substantially different to that laid out in the government's long-term transport plans.

He said those plans showed that south of the harbour, the rail line would not stop at Bankstown, but would extend to Cabramatta. It would also connect to the Illawarra line, extending to Hurstville.

Mr Thomas said the government may have scrapped those components because both created "serious conflicts with freight trains".

"You can't mix driverless lightweight trains with heavy trains ... it would produce very serious safety issues," he said.

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