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Light rail link to Green Square among nation’s ‘top priorities’

Infrastructure Australia has bolstered the case for a light rail link between Sydney’s CBD and Green Square. Photo: Nic WalkerThe Turnbull government’s top infrastructure adviser has put the need for better transport links between Sydney’s CBD and Green Square among the country’s top infrastructure priorities.

In heaping pressure on state and federal governments, Infrastructure Australia has warned the transport network between the CBD and south towards Sydney Airport will lack the capacity to handle 30,000 extra residents over the next two decades.

The government adviser has named as a top priority the need for a “high-capacity, rapid transport link which could be bus or light rail” between the CBD and the “unserved parts of the area” in the south.

It says the link could eventually be extended further to Mascot, Rosebery, Sydney Airport and Port Botany.

“Due to road congestion, bus transport to the Sydney CBD is slow and unreliable,” a report from Infrastructure Australia says. “Potential growth in bus transport, to service a larger population, will add to congestion close to the centre of Sydney.”

The latest push comes six months after Transport Minister Andrew Constance said for the first time that more mass transport will be needed to stop the area around Green Square becoming a congestion choke zone for the entire city.

Until July, the City of Sydney Council had found little government support for its repeated calls for a tram line through the area.

Infrastructure Australia has put 93 projects and initiatives around the country on its list of priorities. They include projects that the Baird government has committed to, such as the WestConnex motorway, the metro rail line from Chatswood to Bankstown and rapid bus routes from the CBD to the northern beaches. 

Among “high-priority initiatives”, it has proposed a study to look at preserving a corridor for an “outer Sydney orbital road and rail” link stretching from Gosford to Wollongong.

It has also suggested a corridor be set aside for a rail line from the planned Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek to both St Marys in the north and Leppington in the south.

Infrastructure Australia chairman Mark Birrell said NSW was best placed of any of the states to complete transport projects because it had pursued reforms such as electricity privatisation.

“It has freed up the capital needed given each of these projects are of a considerable size,” he said. “[Sydney] is a global city and it will require more than just local work – we see a great role for the Australian government.”

Mr Birrell heaped praise on the Baird government for taking steps to reduce the number of councils in the state but wants it to push on with privatisation of Sydney’s rail network and protect corridors for future transport projects.

In comparison to NSW, he said Queensland was “struggling for financial reasons” to progress some large infrastructure projects.

The government adviser has also made 78 recommendations as part of a 15-year plan to help reduce gaps in infrastructure facing the country. They include the need for high-frequency services for all modes of transport in the capital cities and fast-tracking “high-quality, higher density development” in inner cities to meet population growth.

It points out that almost three-quarters of the country’s population growth will occur in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth between 2011 and 2031, which means the four cities will collectively need to house 5.9 million more people.

The priority list for infrastructure was created in the wake of an audit last year by Infrastructure Australia which showed Sydney had seven of the eight worst road corridors in the country.

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