Sydney’s rail network is running 25 years behind London’s Underground says new rail boss Howard Collins
ANDREW CLENNELL STATE POLITICAL EDITOR
The Daily Telegraph
February 18, 201312:00AM
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The London Underground is 25 years ahead of Sydney’s rail network. Picture: AP Photo/Adam Butler Source: AP
SYDNEY’S train system is like London’s Tube “25 years ago”, according to the new boss of our creaking rail network.
Howard Collins, outgoing chief operating officer of the London Underground, will take up his $530,000-a-year post as the CEO of Sydney Trains, which, together with NSW Trains, will replace Cityrail, in June.
He admits to being taken aback by the Harbour City’s congestion problems.
He said there was a place for more single-carriage metro train services to replace double decker trains and in a warning to his new employer, the state government, he said not to invest in new infrastructure, such as new train lines, would be a mistake that would cost Sydney being a “world city”.
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Mr Collins was surprised how tough transport was for Sydneysiders on a visit two weeks ago, saying things had worsened since 2006.
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“When I travelled it reminded me of the London Underground 25 years ago in terms of the ticketing, the technology, the environment,” he said. “That’s what I want to help improve.”
He said the introduction of the Opal card would be a major benefit – as the Oyster card had been for London.
“What did surprise me in Sydney was the amount of traffic congestion and people struggling to get into work.
“A lot of people don’t have an alternative other than them driving a car for an hour or so.
“If you want to make Sydney feel like a world city, you have got to put public transport in in a big way.”
Mr Collins told how the London Underground had been able to use many more services when signalling was improved and trains were allowed to travel faster.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian’s plan involves introducing single-deck carriages to the new North West Rail Line and eventually progressing them on to other lines.
“While some parts of Sydney do require heavy (double decker) capacity, we have done a lot of work in understanding it’s not so much the number of seats on each train but the number of seats per hour,” Mr Collins said.
“Long-term investment in public transport is the only way to keep the arteries and veins of the city moving.
“(Installing) heavy metro, it’s expensive, but if you don’t have that capital program into public transport, eventually the city will grind to a halt.”
He planned to work hard on customer service to encourage more people to catch trains.
“One of the things on the Tube, I have put in wi-fi. It’s made a massive difference to people.”
In a 35-year career with Transport for London, Mr Collins has done everything from driving trains, to working in signalling.
He ran the trains during the Olympics in his $380,000 (£250,000) a year job.
Mr Collins defended his new salary saying: “I think I will be good value for money. It’s a big life change, it’s a big move. Living in Sydney’s probably one of the most expensive places in the world.”
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