MPs furious with ‘lack of rail foresight’

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Editorial – Quit the hand-wringing and build rail link

Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander and Campbelltown MP Greg Warren are ‘furious’ and ‘disgusted’ the planned Western Sydney Airport is not guaranteed to open with a rail connection.

The local members are calling on the government to start its planning again with rail as the top priority.

Their comments come on the back of federal urban infrastructure minister Paul Fletcher’s recent visit to Oran Park to talk to the business community about the huge development.

Mr Fletcher spruiked the commercial and tourism benefits of the airport, but said a rail network was not a vital success factor when the precinct opened in 2026.

“The question of rail is very important in terms of the urban growth and development in this region, but from a pure airport point of view, rail is not a critical success factor in the early years of the airport and you can’t justify the rail on the strength of the airport alone,” he said.

The MPs think this stance is ‘ridiculous’ and believe a fully functioning rail link is absolutely necessary from the airport’s first day of operation.

“I think what the government is doing is absolutely disgusting,” Dr Freelander said.

“They’re politicising the whole project and south-west Sydney is being left behind.”

Dr Freelander said he had spoken with many people about the airport and they had all indicated that rail was a necessity from day one.

“We need it straight away, not 40 years from now,” he said.

The Macarthur MP said it wasn’t just the extra cars on the road that would be a concern if no rail was put in place, but the excessive pollution they would cause.

He said the first thing the state government needed to do to address the dire need for a train link was secure a rail corridor.

“People are building houses where train lines should be going,” he said.

“There’s been no proper planning for a corridor and that needs to happen right now.

“It will be so much more expensive to acquire the land otherwise.”

Dr Freelander said there was plenty of talk about the possibility of underground rail in Macarthur that was not viable.

“It will not happen,” he said.

“Developers are selling properties with the idea that there’ll be underground rail but that’s just not going to happen.”

He said a skytrain was a possibility, but it still required the acquisition of a rail corridor.

“We need rail, I won’t be taking no for an answer,” he said.

“If we need to we’ll march on Macquarie Street.”

Mr Warren felt just as strongly.

“It’s ridiculous, this government couldn’t run a chook raffle,” he said.

“They don’t fool me and they don’t fool our community.

“The absence of a plan for rail connecting Campbelltown, a regional city with a major hospital, university and an existing rail line, to the rest of Sydney, is absurd and a serious oversight.”

Mr Warren said it was more vital that Campbelltown and Narellan – thriving commercial centres in Macarthur – were connected to the airport via rail that it was for an urban housing centre like Oran Park.

“We need the government to step up and do its job,” he said.

“In the words of the king, we need a little less conversation and a little more action.”

Dr Freelander encouraged residents to contact their MPs if they felt strongly about the issue.

He also promised to bring up the matter in Parliament whenever the opportunity arose.