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Sydney Trains boss critical of $344m upgrade of Cronulla to Sutherland railway line
The chief executive of Sydney Trains has criticised a $344 million project completed in 2010 that duplicated the railway line running from Cronulla to Sutherland.
Residents of Sutherland Shire have expressed frustration with the regularity of track-work-related line closures the service has experienced this year, including a nine-day closure from June 27 to July 6.
Prior to 2010 the spur between Cronulla and Sutherland was a single track, meaning trains could not pass in both directions.
The State Government delivered the duplication project, which included station and signalling upgrades, two years overdue and $238 million over budget.
Sutherland Shire public transport advocate Bob Schroeder said improvements, which would have allowed a better service today, were not installed, including bidirectional signalling and crossover tracks.
"If they had put crossovers in a couple of places and had bidirectional signalling they could have allowed trains to pass through during minor track work and breakdowns, as they do in most of continental Europe," Mr Schroeder said.
Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins — who joined Sydney Trains in 2013 — told 702 ABC Sydney's Linda Mottram that the 2010 project was incomplete.
"Things weren't done," Mr Collins, who is also a resident of Sutherland Shire, said.
"I daresay in 2010 they weighed it up and decided that they couldn't afford the extra functions of bidirectional signalling and crossovers.
"During that nine-day closure we had to rip out some of the old wooden sleepers, change some of the old ballast, and work on some of the old bridges as well," he said, referring to work done this year.
"We spent about $5 million; we've got it in a really good position, and I've asked my team to review the regular closures on that Cronulla branch because I think we can do more in a shorter space of time, rather than shutting it down for an entire week."
Mr Collins said he understood the frustration of customers in the Shire, and admitted that Sydney Trains could do better.
"The old way of thinking was that we go around the network shutting areas off for a week, do the painting, the decorating, the changing of the light bulbs and then come back the next year and do the same," he said.
"My view is that we can review how we do that, and spend less time closing."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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