Sydney’s new light rail network has hit a speed bump after city mayor Clover Moore threatened to suspend a $47 million payment to the Baird government.
The light rail network, currently under construction in the CBD, will feature 19 stops, extending from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, Surry Hills, past the SCG at Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford.
Moore says the development has not yet reached “adequate results” in a number of key areas across the 12-km route.
The council believes the shelters on George Street outside the historic Queen Victoria Building and elsewhere are too big and that there’s a lack of tree plantings along what’s supposed to become a pedestrian boulevard. Moore is also concerned about the 67-metre length of the trains – double the length of carriages on the existing inner-west line and the second longest in the world – which are expected to run every four minutes.
“What we are expecting is a sensitive urban project, not a heavy rail, suburban railway through the heart of a global city,” the lord mayor told Fairfax Media.
“It is not just about cutting a ribbon for the next state election. We just want what we thought we were getting.”
The council has committed $220 million towards the $2.1 billion cost of the project. While it has already paid $68 million, it is threatening to withhold the next payment due in December unless contractual obligations are met.
Completion of the line along George Street has been already been delayed by up to five months. Last month the first concrete base slab poured for track foundations.
Moore has written to the premier and is seeking to meet with him on Thursday to address the concerns.
Baird, once extremely popular among voters, has lurched from one crisis to another recently. His popularity took a battering last month when he backed down on his decision to ban greyhound racing in the state, and comes after his controversial Sydney lockout laws.
Yesterday, NSW deputy premier Troy Grant resigned as Nationals leader after a by-election in Orange revealed a central state backlash against the Coalition. Council amalgamations and the sale of the state’s electricity infrastructure were cited among the concerns of voters following an astonishing 35% swing against The Nationals on the primary vote.
Both leaders were facing open revolt in their respective roles after the controversial reversal on the greyhound decision.
The Sydney Morning Herald has more.
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