Tram Violence on Newcastle, Parramatta & Green Square


The BOF Opposition promised to devolve responsibility back to communities.  The WS City Deal destroyed the last vestige of that theme which otherwise is dominant in the UK and USA and elsewhere.

The remit of the Greater Sydney commission is to adopt, without question, the Government’s transport whims.  GSC’s credibility sees a media acceptance of the house of cards – all options dismissed, tax and budgeting issues absent, land use being lines on maps until suburbs are confronted with mandated targets – 67 high-rises in Campsie alone.  GSC’s words are

Greater Parramatta – the metropolitan centre – is the core of the Central River City and Central City District. Its economy is centred on world-class health, education and research institutions as well as finance, business services and administration. Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) – taking in the Westmead health and education precinct; advanced technology and urban services in Camellia, Rydalmere, Silverwater and Auburn; and the Sydney Olympic Park lifestyle precinct – will be supported by the Parramatta Light Rail and Sydney Metro West.

Sydney Metro Northwest will improve the growth prospects for the north west of the District.

Such words are meaningless.  The difference between Metro NW and West is that one exists as a white elephant (cf iNSW) and the other is an obsessives’ and developers’ dream.

The Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue (WSLD) issued a blog, published in the AFR, called “An Revolution By Any Name” (22 Oct 2015).

WSLD strongly supported the Parramatta to Olympic Park tram.  It said that “This potential windfall to local developers was quantified in a recent Deloitte report for the WestLine Partnership landowner consortium. It calculated that local rezonings and developer levies could generate $3 billion to help defray the cost of rail lines and remediation of the old industrial sites.”

The report gave optimistic levels of redevelopment of the corridor, no analysis of options, no indication of application of accepted assessment methodologies, and its estimate of voluntary contributions ranged from $1.6 to $2.9 billion (the 81% variation suggesting guesstimates).  The rest of the “defray” was presumably private, which could be fair unless the landowners seek site bonuses for the same (as they often do).  There is an impressive list of endorsees including the NRMA and Business Chamber.

Turnbull put $78.3 million into what had become GSC’s signature project – the GROP linear tramway that was explicitly designed to serve developers, not the ParraCity Council’s 2013 CBD-based network.  An annual $110 payment by developers is a joke.

The Government has said it will seek to facilitate tram, metro and other projects as well as the Greater Sydney Commission with “land value” or “betterment” capture.  That has been defeated twice in Sydney by Conservative Governments and failed under London’s CrossRail 1.  iNSW reported that “Challenges for value capture mechanisms include identifying the beneficiaries, quantifying the gains and crystallising cashflows to Government.  In the short term, value capture will not provide a substitute for the other funding strategies set out in this (report).  (A betterment scanning report for RailCorp by this analyst had interesting conclusions in line with “low gain for much pain”.)

Around Parramatta, there must be a professional Eddington-type planning exercise that has a multi-modal basis and reverses the contextual defects as including:

  • The by-passing of Parra CBD by the North South Rail and the real but theoretical Parra/Epping link
  • The exclusion of the two alternatives to the West Metro (Greiner’s and this analyst’s) including a superior outcome for Badgerys and for the east/west employment balance via logistics
  • The exclusion of O-Bahn with potential as established in c 1980 by this analyst, incorporated in a BRT network, given the tram is marginal at best.

At Green Square, iA has to withdraw its highly deficient reports and re-do the assessments so as to include the major east/west congestion corridor as tram or BRT.

The tram systems have multiple forced changed-over points and changes in bus routes, an absence of properly integrated cross-route and cross-service interchanges, longer trip times, and possible intermodal fare costs.

In Newcastle, the inner rail line was unproductive and cut roads at two points, Stewart Ave on the Pacific Highway, and Merewether St in the Civic precinct.  The logical path was to stop rail at Broadmeadow and install a reconfigured BRT network, using the inner rail corridor (easing pedestrian restrictions between Honeysuckle and a traffic-calmed Hunter St West.

Not so for Berejiklian who cut the line at Wickham, leaving the Stewart Ave crossing to disrupt Newcastle and force another round of angst when the Broadmeadow option is finally forced through.  This was a deliberate act of bastardry.