O’farrell to pull Monorail down

General news0

Sydney’s controversial monorail will be pulled down, says NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell.

The state government has announced it has bought the company that owns the light rail and monorail to clear the way for the monorail’s removal.

“The monorail is not integrated with Sydney’s wider public transport network and has never been truly embraced by the community,” Mr O’Farrell said on Friday.

“The monorail is reaching the end of its economic life and the NSW government cannot justify costly upgrades like the purchase of new vehicles required to keep it running.”

The state government has bought Metro Transport Sydney (MTS) for $19.8 million.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said tearing down the monorail would remove any constraints on the proposed new convention centre development in Darling Harbour.

It is expected to be completed by 2015-16.

She said the monorail, which came into service in 1988, could be pulled down in two to three years but the government would not know for another 12 to 18 months the exact date of its removal.

Buying out MTS gave the government greater flexibility when it came to planning future public transport, particularly proposed extensions to the light rail network, she said.

“It means our options have increased in relation to light rail,” she told reporters in Sydney.

“Our options have increased in relation to how we integrate the convention centre with other modes of public transport.

“The monorail’s been around for 20 years, and many argue that its use-by date has arrived, and that is certainly the government’s position.”

Mr O’Farrell said the monorail struggled right from the start, with patronage figures in its first two years half that predicted by the Unsworth Labor government.

“The real problem with the monorail I think for most Sydneysiders is that it doesn’t actually go anywhere that you want to go,” he said.

Opposition leader John Robertson accused the government of being more interested in tearing down public transport than in investing in new projects.

Mr Robertson said the state government had broken its election promise to improve public transport options.

“I think it’s a good indication that Barry O’Farrell is more interested in destroying public transport around Sydney than he is in actually doing something about it,” he told AAP at Gosford Hospital, on NSW’s central coast, on Friday.

“What we see is someone who wants to pull something down but he is doing nothing about actually improving congestion, improving travel times for people right across Sydney and NSW.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said removing the monorail to accommodate an extension to the light rail network was the sort of “big, bold transport project” the people of NSW had been waiting for.

“I welcome the purchase of Metro Transport Sydney which will help fully integrate the current light rail system into the expanded network now being planned,” Ms Moore said in a statement.

“Removal of the ugly and intrusive monorail is also the right next step.

“Replacing it with efficient and effective light rail will improve transport access in central Sydney.”

Infrastructure Partnerships Australia chief Brendan Lyon said few people would miss the monorail.

“It is an analogue mode in a digital world and is in the way of a range of important projects like Sydney’s new convention centre,” Mr Lyon said in a statement.

The Sydney Business Chamber praised the monorail’s removal, saying one of its “key restraints” was its isolation from the rest of the transport network.

“Replacing the monorail with an integrated light rail network makes sense if we want to improve public transport options through the CBD and inner city,” Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe said in a statement.

“The Sydney Business Chamber has been a strong advocate for the proposed new convention

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