Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

State Infrastructure

Moving train

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) [6.18 p.m.]: Sydney is moving, finally. One only has to look around to see that. But not everyone likes change. New South Wales has gone so long without it that any level of change is resisted. People have accepted stagnation. We have seen that from several quarters in recent weeks, with reaction to the changes to George Street, here in the city, in preparation for light rail. A short walk from my electorate office in Ku-ring-gai is Wahroonga Station. The history of this almost 100-year-old landmark is celebrated in some humble photos on the platform. The station retains much of the old-world charm that complements the village of Wahroonga, just a few metres away.

Ku-ring-gai is one of the rail gateways to Sydney, the thoroughfare for thousands of rail and road commuters each day—many thousands from the Central Coast. But an increase in capacity was desperately needed and under a Liberal-Nationals Government it is happening. It took a brave Mike Baird to weave his way through a minefield of Labor and union threats and lies pre-election this year to sell the benefits of the long-term leasing of the poles and wires network across the State. That transaction will allow investment in public transport, the likes of which we have not seen for a century.

The Baird Government is getting on with the job of progressing the Sydney Metro City and Southwest projects. People flock to Sydney from mature, sophisticated cities all over the world, charmed by what they see on television screens or in magazines. But when they arrive they see a transport system that is behind the times and lacking the metro networks other international cities have had for years. Our dedicated transport workers were left embarrassed by what 16 years of Labor Government had left us, and now we are being forced to play catch-up. Thankfully, that was then and this is now.

There are two core components to this transport revolution. First, there is the Sydney Metro Northwest, which is a 36-kilometre metro line extending into the north-west reaches of Sydney to match the residential growth centres. Due for completion in 2019, passengers will be serviced by a train every four minutes in the peak periods. Most passengers in the north-west have to drive unreasonable distances to a train line in the west or, if they cannot get there, make their way to a bus service that begins at Rouse Hill and joins the rest of the traffic into the city. The second time-saving initiative in Sydney's public transport revolution is the Sydney Metro City and Southwest link—a planned 30-kilometre line from Chatswood, passing beneath the harbour, through the central business district and on to Bankstown. This will cross the "t" and dot the "i" on a modern city—a city that finally takes itself seriously.

Anyone who travels by car into the city from whichever direction in the morning knows the nightmare it can be, and it is no better at the other end of the day when people are trying to get home to their families. Well, help is on the way. As we speak, four tunnel-boring machines are in operation beneath our city, digging our rail transport corridors of tomorrow. The Sydney Metro City and Southwest metro ventures could provide up to six new underground stations at Barangaroo, Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, Victoria Cross at North Sydney and either St Leonards or Crows Nest. Additional metro stations are also being investigated for the Artarmon industrial area and either the University of Sydney or Waterloo—areas of high-volume commuter traffic.

Pleasingly, all these changes will see a 60 per cent increase in capacity across the rail network during the peak—the largest increase in capacity on Sydney's rail network in 80 years. That will equate to more than 100,000 customers an hour—more people than would fill the Sydney Olympic Stadium. The reliance on a timetable would virtually disappear because why stress over missing a train when the next train is going to arrive in two minutes? I am pleased to be able to say that the introduction of a metro-style transport system via Chatswood will mean even more double-decker trains moving along the North Shore line and passing through Ku-ring-gai.

An Infrastructure Australia audit report this year found that Ku-ring-gai commuters travelling to and from the central business district chalk up more rail journeys per passenger per kilometre than anywhere else in Australia, making it the most heavily utilised commuter rail line in the nation. There is a reason for that. Commuters are increasingly abandoning their cars because a Coalition Government is fixing the public transport mess that was left to us by 16 years of Labor slumber, chaos and mismanagement. But other big things are happening on Sydney's north side when it comes to transport solutions: the NorthConnex tunnels. Dual tunnels will link the M2 to the M1 motorway, removing the need to pass through 31 sets of traffic lights if travelling from Sydney along the Pacific Highway, or 21 sets of traffic lights on Pennant Hills Road, that are frequently voted by motorists as the first and second worst roads. [Time expired.]

Mr JOHN SIDOTI (Drummoyne—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.23 p.m.]: I commend the diligent member for Ku-ring-gai for his advocacy on these many infrastructure projects. This Government has done a sensational job. One only has to look across Sydney.