Personal submission to the Sydenham to Bankstown Submissions and
Preferred Infrastructure Report (Application No SSI 17_8256)
Thank-you for the opportunity to give feedback on the preferred
project. I am a member of the Hurlstone Park Association. I have
adapted a submission that has been prepared by the HPA because I agree
I am opposed to the conversion of the Sydenham-Bankstown heavy rail
line to metro.
I am pleased that the preferred project, as described so far, has
addressed the widespread concerns about congestion and construction
impacts, the planned destruction of railway heritage items and removal
of vegetation. Unfortunately, the response to submissions, and
preferred project, falls short of community expectations. My
The main concerns I have about the metro, the report on submissions
and the preferred project are:
1. The response to concerns about the justifications for the project
(Part B, Submissions Report p 14-15) does nothing to convince the
community of its need, especially in the context of poor transparency
regarding business cases, and ideological political agendas relating
to privatisation and property development. The justifications have
been contradicted by independent rail experts and Sydney's Rail Future
2012 ("In the Sydney context an independent metro system would deliver
few benefits in terms of service enhancement, capacity improvements or
better operating efficiency on the existing rail network". P24,
Sydney's Rail Future 2012). Alternatives must be addressed to improve
the heavy rail network's capacity (such as tunnelling options if the
City Circle and Sydenham sites are problematic, and improvements in
signalling and timetabling, now). Metro trains are designed for short
distances with frequent stops; the capacity argument is based on most
people standing which in my view is absolutely unacceptable.
2. The response has failed to acknowledge community concerns about the
supposed benefits (Part B, Submissions Report p30-35):
-more direct access will not occur - the popular stops of St Peters,
Erskineville, Redfern and City Circle will be lost. Commuters west of
Bankstown will be worse off with many facing longer commuting times
and less direct connections (Part B, Submissions Report p74 and 108).
This is not an acceptable outcome and is contrary to one of the "30
minute city" of the Greater Sydney Commission.
-opal ticketing is not a benefit - we already have it.
- the response to submissions fails to explain why a metro is needed
for accessibility upgrades at stations (Part B, Submissions Report
p29); many heavy rail stations have had such upgrades over time; there
remains plenty of room for improvement for accessibility in the
existing network, such as improved acoustics of announcements for the
visually impaired. In addition, metro trains will have significantly
reduced seating capacity, which is inappropriate for a 66km railway
with an ageing population, mothers who travel with small children, and
-the response addresses specific benefits for Hurlstone Park (Part B,
Submissions Report p 36) The preservation of our railway heritage is
welcome, but the pressure for high-rise development triggered by a
metro would be unwelcome in this heritage -rich suburb. An increased
number of services must be seen in the context of this government
incrementally reducing the number of services to the suburb since 2013
and metro trains having significantly less seats. The claim of better
connections to "key employment and service centres" is arguable, as
current popular stops will be lost.
3. The response to concerns about development is dismissive (Part B,
Submissions Report p36-39). The link to development has been made
repeatedly, with the exhibited project acting as a "catalyst" for
growth; the strategic context of the metro and its relationship to
Future Transport 2056 (which supports the concept of property
value-capture), the Greater Sydney Commission (seeking to integrate
land use and transport planning),and the Sydenham-Bankstown Urban
Renewal Strategy (widely condemned by communities for its
indiscriminate up-zoning plans; the invitations to Stakeholders such
as the Australian Turf Club and the NSW property Council and the
awarding of metro operations in northern Sydney to MTR Honk Kong with
its "rail plus property" business model. The project will promote
growth in a climate of lack of community trust in the planning process
and poor-quality development without benefits such as affordability,
green space and amenity.
4. The response to some of the negative consequence of the metro has
-the decision to preserve, restore and re-use our significant rail
heritage along the line is important. Part B, Submissions Report
p48-49). The exhibited project demonstrated a reckless approach to
heritage, and the use of heritage architects for the preferred
project, should it proceed, is appropriate. At Hurlstone Park Station,
the use of traditional hand rails for the stairs would be welcome.
Hurlstone Park Station was recommended for state heritage listing in
2016. The community supports this and hopes that works for the metro
would not impede such a listing. In the report's Non-Aboriginal
Heritage Assessment, Appendix F, it is admitted that some "items or
fabric (are) proposed for removal and ... the historic character of
the line...would be altered by the contemporary metro". (p93). This is
of some concern and requires clarification.
-the decision to abandon the inappropriate design plans for station
precincts is also welcome. It is disappointing that community input
into station precinct and open space planning is given such a low
priority, especially in the context of multiple submissions critical
of the consultation process to date (Part B, Submissions Report p
51-53 and p 58-70). "Place-making" should begin with the people who
live in and know in the places.
The Hurlstone Park Association should be one of the stakeholders
consulted in the development of the "integrated urban and place making
outcome" for Hurlstone Park Station.
5. Although construction impacts have been lessened, which is
appropriate, the impacts will still be significant and temporary
transport issues have not been detailed. Issues with cost blow-outs
and legal proceedings for the light rail project do not instill public
confidence. The predicted exceed-ences of operational noise criteria
due to increase in train speeds are of significant concern. In
Hurlstone Park, locals would welcome noise attenuation in the form of
denser vegetation or other heritage sympathetic attenuation measures.
6. The franchising to a private operator is not supported. This has
not been good for Melbourne or Newcastle, and we do not want it here.
In particular, the Hong-Kong model of development, utilised by MTR
Corporation, is totally inappropriate for many of the heritage -rich
and garden suburbs in this corridor
7. The loss of the previously planned active green strip takes away
one of the few benefits of the project.
8. The response to concerns about community consultation is inadequate
and inappropriate. Justifying the many techniques used, and measuring
success by the number of encounters, does not address the lack of
engagement with, and failure to prioritise the input of, the
communities along the line and beyond Bankstown, who are opposed to
the project. In addition, the continued use of biased glossy
brochures, which have replaced transparency and meaning, reveals
little hope for meaningful consultation in the future.
9. The HPA is concerned about the loss of mature trees and tree canopy
during construction, for example around Lakemba, Wiley Park and
Punchbowl stations. There will be significant loss of vegetation from
council-owned land along the corridor. (Appendix G 'landscape and
In summary, this project should not be approved because it threatens a
radical transformation of the built and natural environment along a
major urban corridor, it lacks bipartisan and community support, and
it is the product of a secretive political and technocratic set of
processes that have been undemocratic, un-transparent, and un-grounded
in what actual communities need and want.
The preferred project, to best benefit communities, and Sydney, should
-retaining the heavy rail, keeping it public and without a private
-investing now in time-tables and signalling, and connections for
commuters beyond Bankstown
-upgrading all stations for accessibility, safety, landscaping and
active transport connections
-retaining and restoring railway heritage to enable railway-related
use including rest-rooms and toilets
-prioritising investment in new rail and rapid bus systems across
Sydney instead of converting existing lines/ building more toll-way.