Transport projects will happen: Keneally
Premier Kristina Keneally says she’ll take personal responsibility for the implementation of NSW’s new transport plan, amid scepticism about whether some projects will see the light of day.
Ms Keneally on Sunday announced her government’s $50.2 billion Metropolitan Transport Plan, which officially scrapped the controversial CBD Metro and reinstated the northwest rail link.
The transport blueprint contains a mixture of new and previously announced projects, and focuses mostly on western Sydney.
Spending of $3.1 billion is earmarked for new trains, $2.9 billion for more buses, $225 million for six ferries, and a $500 million expansion of the current light rail.
However, the 2017 start date for the Epping to Rouse Hill line – a line proposed previously by the Labor government, only to be deferred or scrapped – has some questioning whether the government’s proposals will ever eventuate.
Asked what guarantees she could give to commuters, Ms Keneally said the plan “is a fully-funded plan that we can deliver”.
“This is a 10-year, fully funded package,” she told reporters at Parramatta railway station on Monday.
“It will be written into the budget. It will be written into the state infrastructure strategy.
“Many of these projects commence this year, particularly the new trains, new buses. We start immediately on the light rail, we start immediately on the geotechnical work and the planning work for the Western Express Line.
“The cabinet has endorsed this plan, the government has endorsed this plan, and this is our plan for Sydney.”
Asked if she would take personal responsibility for the success or otherwise of the plan’s implementation, Ms Keneally said: “I take personal responsibility for all plans, and all services delivered by my government”.
Ms Keneally also lashed out at NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell’s reluctance to back the blueprint’s $4.5 billon Western Express CityRail service.
On Fairfax Radio on Monday, Mr O’Farrell declined to commit to the project designed to speed up travel times to and from western Sydney.
“”We’d want that reviewed by the experts,” he said.
“It seems like a lot of money for a very small improvement.”
Ms Keneally called for a bipartisan approach to the proposal.
“We’d like him to support commuters in western Sydney,” she said.
“This … is a big plan for western Sydney. It is so disappointing today to see the leader of the opposition refuse to back it.”
Ms Keneally later told Fairfax Radio that the transport plan made no promises to improve the M4 East motorway, implement the M5 expansion or build a link road from the M3 to the M2.
“What we are saying, we’re not going to promise things that we cannot fund, that we cannot afford,” Ms Keneally said.
But the government would bring forward projects if additional funding came from either the federal government or private sector, she said.