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NONE of the Sydney transport projects for which NSW is seeking federal funding has been judged ''ready to proceed'' by Infrastructure Australia, including the state government's big-ticket promise to build the $2.4 billion south-west rail link.
The latest report to the Council of Australian Governments by the federal funding body will also dash the hopes of Sydney motorists. While it classifies the $4 billion M5 east expansion as a project with ''real potential'', it indicates more work is required before funding is considered.
Only one NSW project - a $6 billion plan to upgrade the Pacific Highway - has received the tick of approval from the federal government's infrastructure funding body.
The report shows the state government submitted funding applications for five projects in 2009-10. They were the M5 east upgrade; the Central to Westmead Metro; the south-west rail link; the northern Sydney freight project; and the Pacific Highway upgrades. The Central to Westmead metro has since been shelved. The NSW government did not put forward a funding proposal for the north-west rail link to service the population growth of Rouse Hill. The proposal has been pitched by a private company, Australian Infrastructure Solutions, which estimates it would cost $7 billion.
In its report, Infrastructure Australia has assessed plans for the western metro, the M5 expansion, the south-west rail link and the Pacific Highway upgrades.
Despite it being an infrastructure priority of the state government, the south-west rail link - a proposed 11-kilometre heavy rail line from Glenfield to Leppington - has only been classified as a ''threshold'' project.
''Some issues, for example how train services from the new link would interact with the rest of the rail network, need to be further explored,'' the report says. ''…Opportunities to maximise the benefits of the project, for example the possibility of an additions station to service residential areas to the north of the line, warrant further attention.''
The M5 east expansion, which would see the duplication of the existing M5 east motorway from Beverly Hills to Arncliffe and a new surface road along the F6 corridor, is classified as a ''real potential'' project. The Metro project is classified as ''early stage'', with Infrastructure Australia noting: ''Since providing the submission, the NSW government has reprioritised the project, although it has indicated that it would like to undertake the project …''
The executive director of industry lobby group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Brendan Lyon, said that political instability in NSW had contributed to the failure to secure funding. ''When the NSW cabinet axed the Metro project earlier this year, it marked the 14th cancelled rail project in 15 years, and brought into stark relief the lack of strategic commitment about what government projects need to be delivered,'' he said.
The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, said the report shows that the NSW government had failed to properly plan for projects. ''We don't have a state government that can do the basics: plan the projects and convince the federal government that they can deliver the projects,'' he said.
A spokesman for the Minister for Infrastructure, Tony Kelly, said the government was updating its original submission in line with its metropolitan strategy and if federal funding becomes available, would consider fast tracking key transport projects. These included the north-west rail link, the M4 east and the Parramatta to Epping rail link.
Sydney Morning Herald
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