Transport for NSW has refuted claims that it was considering privatising the Illawarra train line.
The Illawarra line finishes at Waterfall and any such move towards privatising it would likely have flow-on effects for the South Coast line.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully asked several questions without notice on the issue, asking if the government had also looked into privatising the South Coast line.
Mr Scully said the questions arose out of a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that the government was looking to move some rail assets into a state-owned corporation with a commercial focus.
“This had been an approach they’d used with other organisations to shift the assets in readiness for privatisation,” Mr Scully said.
“It’s a question off the back of that bit of speculation - the minister in some debate [in parliament] said that had never been a consideration.”
Mr Scully said any possible privatisation of the Illawarra line would surely cause issues for public transport users of the South Coast line.
... it has a serious impact on the way the South coast line runs."
“I would be very concerned about that as an option because it’s all well and good to say ‘privatise this section of the line because it’s separate’, but it’s not really,” Mr Scully said.
“A lot of trains on that line may run back and forwards between Bondi Junction and Cronulla but it has a serious impact on the way the South coast line runs, which will have an impact on the way train services run to and from the Illawarra.”
In response to Mr Scully’s series of questions about whether the government was considering privatising the Illawarra and South Coast lines, Transport Minister Andrew Constance had a one-word response – “No”.
A Transport for NSW spokesman offered a fuller response to the Mercury about these concerns.
“There are no plans to privatise the South Coast and Illawarra lines,” the spokesman said.
“Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink will continue to take responsibility for providing passenger services, including maintenance and safety relating to the core operational rail assets.
“Their strong focus on safety will not change.”