Three new Metro station for the inner west.
Late last month the NSW State government finally decided on locations for the stations on the West Metro line to Westmead, now due for completion in 2030. There were no surprises – the Bays Precinct, Five Dock and North Burwood locations named (the three most relevant for inner west commuters) have been widely canvassed over the last few years.
As expected though, there is to be no intermediate station at Rozelle, Lilyfield or North Leichardt, and one long tunnel will bypass the Inner West Council’s LGA and the electorate of Balmain – leading to speculation that the region’s notorious “Nimby factor” was responsible for the omission. As Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne told news.com.au: “Council is very disappointed that its residents are missing out on the public transport benefits that could flow from the Sydney Metro West.”
As indeed they will. When a Metro station was last planned for Rozelle in 2010 by the then Labor government, many on Mr Byrne’s own (now defunct) Leichhardt Council and its then mayor (the present Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker) did in fact oppose it – for similar reasons that some residents of Bondi once opposed the extension of the Eastern Suburbs rail line. Mr Parker actually organised protest meetings at its Darling St location, where speaker after speaker vehemently denounced the “threat” posed by mass public transport to the area. Perhaps someone in the present government was listening, and decided they must have wanted the WestConnex instead.
The Bays Precinct station will be located between Glebe Island and White Bay Power Station with an entrance to the south of White Bay, providing direct access to a proposed future Bays Waterfront Promenade running along White Bay. The station’s entrance will be to the south of White Bay near that proposed promenade – indicating that the station will not be very useful for Balmain and Rozelle residents. Access to the site is presently limited to the eastern side of the perpetually gridlocked City West Link near The Crescent. The concept sketch of the station (pic above) also shows a tall development, likely to be opposed by both Balmain residents and the same political forces who fought so hard against the previous Metro.
At Five Dock the station entrance will be located at Fred Kelly Place on Great North Road near the entrance to Coles. It appears that the station will be split, with one section located between Great North Road and East Street and the other at the corner of Second Avenue and Waterview Street. According to Sydney Metro, this will “provide an easy interchange with the local bus network along Great North Road”.
At Burwood North the station will be located on the presently run-down north side of Parramatta Road at the corner of the Burwood Road intersection, with entrances on both the north and south sides of Parramatta Road. This is likely to become a major public transport interchange.
Immediately after the announcement there was speculation about properties owned at Five Dock by interests associated with Drummoyne MP John Sidoti and his family nearby, leading to him being stood down as Minister for Sport pending an ICAAC enquiry. It will also be looking at properties he has an interest in at Rouse Hill adjacent to another new Metro station. Mr Sidoti, who was a parliamentary secretary for Transport in 2015, and prior to that parliamentary secretary for Planning, has denied any wrongdoing.
True to form, Sydney’s notoriously negative media found people willing to complain about the locations – mostly business owners directly impacted by possible compulsory acquisitions. Pretty well all of the other local businesses at Five Dock were excited by project though, something that clearly disappointed whoever commissioned this story on the ABC. They did finally manage to unearth one elderly gentlemen who grumpily summed up the Nimby case: “I don’t want a metro station here in Five Dock — I’m quite happy with the way it is,” he said, before bizarrely citing the “hectic” traffic of Great North Road for opposing the congestion-busting project.
On the other side of the coin, the real estate arm of news.com.au breathlessly announced that many inner west homeowners near the proposed stations “are set for a financial windfall”. While that’s certainly true, the project will be welcome for many other reasons as well. First and foremost the West Metro will result in fast and frequent trains both to the CBD and west through the fast growing Olympic corridor to Parramatta and Westmead and later on to the new Western Airport, with 20 minute trips from Parramatta to the City envisaged. It will reduce our reliance on cars, replace slow and cumbersome buses for most commuting journeys and dramatically reduce congestion on inner west roads. Finally, the West Metro will introduce the inner west to state-of-the-art, green and efficient 21st Century public transport.
It’s been a long time coming.
• Images supplied by Sydney Metro. Their overview of the project is here.