OPINION | Quit the hand-wringing and build rail link

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Give most people who live locally half a chance to vent how they feel about infrastructure planning in the region and their responses will undoubtedly contain some colourful invective and expletives.

Such language, borne of intense frustration, is hardly surprising.

 Every day thousands of local motorists endure the nightmare of navigating gridlocked roads in an attempt to get to and from work or take the kids to school.

Commuters who need to catch trains struggle to find parking at railway stations.

Little wonder then they are less than impressed with inept politicians and planners who spruik population growth and sign off on vast new housing estates without first providing adequate infrastructure.

Political leaders and planners have got it wrong in the past but the opportunity to make amends and be forward-thinking visionaries, able to get it right from the start, exists now at Badgerys Creek with the construction of the Western Sydney Airport to start shortly.

Given the phenomenal population growth forecast for Macarthur, you’d think a direct rail link to the airport from Campbelltown, Camden or Narellan, operational when the airport opens in 2026, would be a no-brainer.

 Except it’s not.

At this stage there’s no commitment to provide Macarthur locals with a direct rail service to the new airport at all, let alone confirmation that such a service will be operational when the airport opens.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher told the Advertiser last week that local “road connectivity” in 2026 would be “excellent” and provision of rail at that time could not be justified.

Millions of dollars are indeed being spent to upgrade the road network around the airport, however the prevailing political view towards rail provision is evidence that lessons from planning fails of the past have yet to be learnt.

A north-south rail project linking Macarthur with St Marys and Rouse Hill via the airport would be truly transformative infrastructure, stimulating employment and economic growth for decades to come.

Let’s hope lobbyists are able to convince the decision makers to build that line (sooner rather than later).

Our district will shoulder much of Sydney’s future growth and it’s mind-blowing that political hand-wringing over whether this piece of infrastructure is actually needed continues to be the state of play.

                                                        – Editor Roma Dickins


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