Morning Buzz: Dire warning for Sydney's trains

Good morning and welcome to the Morning Buzz for Tuesday, December 19. Get set for another mostly sunny day. Temperatures are expected to hit 31 in the city and up to 43 in the west. Enjoy your day!​

Dire warning for Sydney's trains from former top execs

The former rail executives say the metro project will undermine the "robustness and reliability" of the existing double-deck network. Photo: Edwina Pickles

The former rail executives say the metro project will undermine the "robustness and reliability" of the existing double-deck network. Photo: Edwina Pickles

The state government's $20 billion-plus metro train line under construction in Sydney "could have been built far cheaper with more sensible planning", four of NSW's top former rail executives have said in a highly critical assessment of the project.

In an analysis released under freedom-of-information laws, the former rail heavyweights warn that the metro train plans will result in "degradation of the robustness and reliability" of Sydney's existing heavy rail network, and "ultimately lead to the total network becoming gridlocked and unworkable". Read more.

Powerhouse Museum move to western Sydney under attack

The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. The decision to relocate the museum to Parramatta has been mired in controversy. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. The decision to relocate the museum to Parramatta has been mired in controversy. Photo: Louise Kennerley

A parliamentary inquiry has savaged the decision to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to western Sydney before developing a business case, calling it an "act of vandalism by this government".

The stinging verdict was contained in an interim report handed down on Monday by a parliamentary committee, which for more than a year has examined the controversial decision to move the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta. Read more.

Why NSW Police will now be armed with high-powered assault rifles

Public Order and Riot Squad officers with the Colt M4 assault rifles. Photo: Ben Rushton/AAP

Public Order and Riot Squad officers with the Colt M4 assault rifles. Photo: Ben Rushton/AAP

Military-style assault rifles have become the latest weapon against terror and organised crime, with specialist police now trained to use the semi-automatic weapons "in the most difficult situations" across the state.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller announced on Monday that 47 officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad had been issued with the Colt M4 carbines and the squad's other 50 members would be trained by the middle of next year. Read more.

Higher tax returns help slash $10 billion off federal deficits

Treasurer Scott Morrison outside the Treasury building in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Treasurer Scott Morrison outside the Treasury building in Canberra. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Fresh government forecasts have slashed $10 billion off federal deficits over the next four years, including $5.8 billion in the current financial year.

Higher company tax returns and better than expected superannuation tax receipts will more than offset a downgrade in expected slower wages growth and lower than previously expected economic growth.

Finance Minister Mathais Cormann said the improvement was so big that after this financial year the government would no longer need to borrow to fund the day-to-day business of government. Read more.

Universities hit with $2.1 billion in cuts and end of demand-driven system

The Turnbull government will hit universities with $2.1 billion in cuts as it unwinds the demand-driven system that ushered in a student boom at tertiary institutions and applies a cap to student loans.

The government will freeze the amount it pays to universities for two years, before moving to a competitive system in 2020 with funding increases capped at the growth rate of the working age population. Read more

Headaches at the last hurdle for $2 billion Parramatta Square push

Walker Corporation's proposed new commercial tower at 6 and 8 Parramatta Square. Photo: Supplied

Walker Corporation's proposed new commercial tower at 6 and 8 Parramatta Square. Photo: Supplied

The City of Parramatta Council is inching closer to the realisation of plans for the $2.4 billion Parramatta Square development, but not before a contentious late push divides the council.

A division has sprung up among councillors about the level of compensation agreed with developer Lang Walker over the right to build a 240-metre tower. Read more.

Amtrak train derails over road bridge in Washington state

Emergency services at the scene after an Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle. Photo: AP

Emergency services at the scene after an Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle. Photo: AP

An Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over a major highway in Washington state on Monday morning, sending part of the train crashing down onto Interstate 5 and killing several passengers, authorities said.

The Associated Press, citing an unnamed US official, reported that at least six people were killed in the crash.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has called a state of emergency in response to the derailment. Read more.

Elderly woman injured, pet dog killed in Penrith dog attack

An elderly woman has been injured and her pet dog has died, after they were attacked by another dog in Penrith.

The 87-year-old woman had been walking her small dog on Stafford Street in Penrith about 7pm on Sunday when her pet was attacked by a large dog that was unleashed, police said. Read more.

Australian captain Steve Smith breaks down in tears after triumph

Australian captain Steve Smith shares a moment with coach Darren Lehmann after their team's big win on Monday. Photo: AAP

Australian captain Steve Smith shares a moment with coach Darren Lehmann after their team's big win on Monday. Photo: AAP

An emotional Steve Smith broke down in tears in the Australian dressing room at the WACA as he came to terms with having led a team to Ashes glory in his first tilt as captain in a Test series against England.

The world's best batsman led from the front with his second man of the match award in three matches and was on Monday night digesting the greatest moment of his two years at the helm as Australia's full-time captain. Read more.

Sydney FC to play hard ball with FFA if they want Graham Arnold

In demand: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold. Photo: AAP

In demand: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold. Photo: AAP

Sydney FC expect Graham Arnold to honour the remainder of his contract as head coach of the club in spite of interest from Football Federation Australia and have not even started looking at potential replacements.

Arnold is among the front-runners to become the next coach of the Socceroos and lead Australia to the 2018 World Cup in Russia but Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow is staunchly committed to keeping the coach at Moore Park.

Sydney's double-winning coach is contracted at the club until June 2019 and the Sky Blues will unlikely allow him to leave freely, particularly to the FFA whom they are locked in a bitter political feud with. Read more.

Sydney FC will be Sky Blue in name only for ACL campaign 

New look: Sydney FC captain Alex Brosque (centre) and team mates Milos Ninkovic and Andrew Redmayne in the club's new strip for the AFC Champions League. Photo: Daniel Munoz

New look: Sydney FC captain Alex Brosque (centre) and team mates Milos Ninkovic and Andrew Redmayne in the club's new strip for the AFC Champions League. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Sydney FC will be Sky Blue in name only in the 2018 Asian Champions League after the club unveiled its new jersey for the continental tournament, abandoning their primary colour for the first time in their history. 

Sydney will wear a mostly white home jersey during their fourth foray into Asia after strict regulations about clashing kits prompted the club to make the bold decision to abandon their colours. 

It is understood the club's initial plan to wear a completely sky blue home uniform was met with resistance from the Asian Football Confederation, who are sticklers for regulations and guidelines. Read more.

Roosters won't say no to Angus Crichton coming across a year early

Outta here: Angus Crichton has defected to rivals Sydney Roosters. Photo: AAP

Outta here: Angus Crichton has defected to rivals Sydney Roosters. Photo: AAP

Angus Crichton has told South Sydney he wants to play for them next season. Souths say they want him next season, too, even if he told them over the weekend that he'd struck a three-year deal with the Roosters from 2019.

The Roosters?

They say they aren't expecting the 21-year-old back-rower until then – but would take him sooner if Souths were prepared to release him from the final year of his contract. Read more.

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