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If you want to catch a train in Sydney's inner west this weekend, chances are you'll be stuck on a bus.
You might use the occasion to reflect that a couple of years ago, Gladys Berejiklian said it wasn't meant to be this way.
"I don't like the fact that every single weekend, part of the network is shut down for trackwork," the former transport minister said in 2012.
Some time in the next few years, she said, trackwork could take place "in the middle of the night when there are no trains running" rather than on the weekend, forcing thousands of us onto crowded and slow replacement buses.
Well that hasn't happened.
The need for another rail line through the city has been well established for decades. Photo: Daniel Munoz
And it's not the only commitment the state government might hope has been forgotten.
In the same year, for instance, Berejiklian said there would be 24 trains an hour running in each direction along the north shore by 2019 – that's up from the current 18 an hour.
That would mean one extra train every 10 minutes. On the current state of works, there's no chance those extra trains will be running by 2019.
By the standards of most administrations, Mike Baird and Barry O'Farrell's governments have been reasonably coy about making outlandish promises.
But Baird is sitting on a big one. And the refusal of his government to attempt to justify it demonstrates what has to be considered a remarkably cavalier approach to public money.
Take the below:
It was probably a failure of the media (and this journalist) that that 60 per cent claim was not scrutinised much at the time.
But the need for another rail line through the city has been well established for decades. And the government was certainly making impressive construction progress on other rail projects – the North West Rail Link in particular.
So the 60 per cent figure was allowed to stand, despite private doubts among some in the transport industry about its bona fides.
Nevertheless, a few months ago I put in a freedom of information request asking for analysis from 2014 or 2015 and not-for-cabinet discussion (departments don't release anything with the word "cabinet" on it) that supported the 60 per cent claim.
The response was that there was none. "I am informed by the Freight, Strategy & Planning Division that there is no information which falls within the terms of the application which was prepared in 2014 or 2015," a Transport for NSW officer wrote.
But the officer's response indicated there might be earlier work along those lines.
So I submitted another application asking for any analysis prepared in 2011, 2012 or 2013 supporting the 60 per cent claim.
The department then provided one document that, like Baird at the election, asserted there would be a 60 per cent increase in capacity but did not demonstrate how this was achievable.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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