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Bankstown Metro conversion an illogical decision: RTBU

Aug 1, 2023Media releases

Media release, 1 August 2023: The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has slammed the NSW Government over its decision to continue with the Metro conversion of the Bankstown rail line, raising safety concerns about the project.

The RTBU NSW said the Bankstown conversion is expected to run on the existing heavy rail corridor, leaving it exposed to numerous safety concerns without the oversight of drivers and guards to ensure commuter safety.

The Union has described the move as illogical due to the fact the current rail service works well and doesn’t suffer from overcrowding unlike other heavy rail lines.

Transport experts including the former Coordinator of RailCorp, Ron Christie, raised concerns about the project in 2015, noting that removing heavy rail on the Bankstown line will cause ‘major disruption to the efficient operation of the network, resulting in- [a] reduction in network flexibility and reliability, longer journey times for commuters who will need to change trains into Metro services to the city and loss of the Bankstown line as a relief line in times of major disruption.’

An inquiry held by the Upper House also recommended that ‘the NSW Government not proceed with the Metro Southwest project… and that project funds are instead spent on connecting new communities to rail services and improving existing rail services.’

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW Locomotive Division Secretary, Farren Campbell, said commuters should be concerned over the plan to convert the existing heavy rail line, leaving them stranded for months on end while the line is shut down.

“There’s plenty of scope to increase the current services available on the Bankstown line however the previous Liberal government was intent on putting profits ahead of public needs and the current government doesn’t appear to have the gumption to rectify the problem.

“Once again, commuters are being put last by this illogical government decision. The changes to the Bankstown line are a totally unnecessary disruption to commuters who will be forced onto buses, during a time when there’s a crippling driver shortage in Sydney.

“The only people set to benefit from the conversion of the Bankstown line are greedy developers, there’s no benefit whatsoever for commuters,” said Mr Campbell.

Under the NSW Government’s plan, the Bankstown Metro line will be run by an overseas-based private operator and will mean:

  • Chaos for commuters, who will be left stranded for months on end while the line is shut down
  • Fewer seats for passengers
  • The loss of hundreds of frontline jobs- a huge safety concern for commuters
  • Less station access for commuters along the line
  • Potential for large scale development along the line, disrupting existing residents