DECEITFUL BANKSTOWN METRO BUSINESS CASE AND SECRET SUBSIDIES TO DEVELOPERS, WITH INCOMPETENT PRE-PLANNING THEN STOLEN “ECONOMIES”. iA’s ASSESSMENT IN JUNE ’17 HAD A BENEFIT/COST RATIO OF 1.3 – COMPLETELY MISSING THE POINTS OF SUBSIDISED METRO DENSIFICATION AND AXIAL CONGESTION
The Bankstown Metro came out of a delusional Labor exercise in 2009 – the stupid cancellation of the Anzac Metro (leading to the ES tram debacle), with the SMH running an hilarious satire based on Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi, Nathan Rees, Verity Firth and Eric Roozendaal).
Berejiklian put an opportunistic patch on her ridiculous North West Metro, which had been demolished by the UK’s top expert Jim Steer in 2009 (employed by the then Treasurer), to faux-justify removing the Epping Shuttle by building an avalanche of new infrastructure including a massive tunnel from Chatswood to Sydenham – the biggest White Elephant in history.
A contentious point was 85% of passengers would be standing on all long or short journeys but the media have forgotten this.
Both Ron Christie (2001 and 2010) and Nick Greiner (2012) found that line to be the least needy of all in the Sydney system, but the obvious option, the East Hills Line, to be of the greatest need. IT WAS NOT CONSIDERED BY THE TWATS IN THE METRO. It would have given the NW access to the main Airport, but transport logic was forgotten.
The small post scriptum is that Baird and Berejiklian promised the Metro would go down the important Illawarra Line into the current PM’s suburbs. That was one of the Metro’s classic engineering blunders, and was withdrawn. East Hills runs off that Line, but the BIG option (RG’s Eddington Bedrock) would have solved all those problems – but it was also cold-shelved).
Thus the whole Metro program turned into a rush to catch-up – the community has not been told the true implications of the Bankstown Metro extension including to Liverpool, even the “summary” business case had major gaps and 110 redactions, making it all but useless. The most important elements were put to the then Mayor of Bankstown who blanched when I asked him if he had analysed these parameters (slightly updated):
- Increase the cost past $20 billion without factoring in the massive social and employment costs of closing rail lines and stations for up to a year, cannibalising the Bradfield-era railways, demolishing 50 large buildings to put in new underground stations where stations already exist, and forcing transfers at major rail nodes making a 2016 version of the 19th Century “dual gauge” problem – impeding special events and emergency operations as well! Platform and track sections are to be removed and replaced (realised so late in the process – yet vehicles are available that would not require such costs and disruption while also extending services well past the narrow band of suburbs, faster and more cheaply). Economic and operational damage to the Bradfield system has not been costed. Better use of existing assets is supposed to be an iA priority yet it endorsed the opposite
- Concentrate residential high-rises in a narrow band of suburbs (increasing congestion, not served by the Metro past about 1% of 664,000 new dwellings over just 15 years) [as it was then]. This is commercially risky, socially irresponsible, and worst of all, to be paid for by families and small businesses through a tax that has been promoted, without understanding it seems, by the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Committee for Sydney and the McKell Institute among others. Better, cheaper and easier to implement options are deliberately ignored – projects, technologies and taxes. Two classes of suburbs and citizens will be created. The beneficiaries? – the contractors, financiers and developers.
- Reduce the network’s passenger capacity (especially as the Bradfield system is being cannibalised) while falsely claiming the Metros will provide a 60% increase – the numbers were provided by a private operator, indeed a contractor with a vested interest, which distorted the comparison between double-decked trains and metros by about 95%. That canard was repeated by iA which presumably did not check the numbers or understand Sydney despite the issues being ventilated by ABC Fact Checkers, Ron Christie (former Rail Coordinator General) and the ABC’s Lateline, as well as being formally submitted to Ministers and governmental inquiries. (Metro’s changes to proposed timetables were surreptitious and meaningless.)
- Forced the projects on communities through non-elected bureaucrats in statutory agencies which have defective legislation especially UrbanGrowth and the Greater Sydney Commission.
These points were also put to the Administrators and other Mayors who declined to respond. The Metro’s housing densification targets in each of the Bankstown’s Line 11 stations have been found to be inappropriate through to impossible.
There are better options which were ignored by the national and NSW Governments and agencies. The main option is to leave the three east/west rail lines to be foundation axes for corridor improvement; and develop a known but latent north/south axis with east/west linkages – to allow a new and additional band of more traditional medium density development.
The same but possibly more powerful “cost effectiveness” logic applies to the West Metro myth, The Spit long tunnel, and various extravagant road and tram projects, all of which have options not considered by the NSW Government or iA.
Implicit model based on false MTR real estate development expectations which were concealed by 110 redactions in Summary Business Case in 2016 (but praised by Daily Telegraph).
Now failed in engineering and commercial terms, all as predicted. The deceit is of criminal dimension.
Better options were there but unacknowledged, and “waste” is in order of $30 billion.
iA identified population growth as critical, but failed to assess the Metro’s (lack of) supply.
The NSW Audit Commissions’ call, that projects are “pursued for their own sake with little consideration to their objectives or the outcomes they actually deliver”, rings so true.