State Labor will head to the March election promising “public transport over toll roads,” while also saying it will prioritise the needs of southern and western Sydney commuters over those in eastern and northern Sydney.
Labor leader Luke Foley will on Thursday announce his party’s transport action plan, with one immediate difference from the government’s policies being Labor’s pledge to scrap the proposed F6 motorway between Arncliffe and Kogarah.
It is understood the transport plan will include significant funding for the Illawarra and South Coast train lines.
Mr Foley will commit to an analysis of public transport options for the F6 corridor running through Banksia, Rockdale and Kogarah, parts of which have been preserved from development.
The plan is likely to create a sharper contrast with the Coalition than that presented at the 2015 election.
During the 2015 campaign, Labor said it would not build projects proposed to be funded from the privatisation of electricity assets – such as a new rail line through the city and the final stage of WestConnex – but Mr Foley otherwise quibbled little with the Coalition’s transport priorities.
One source said Mr Foley would announce on Thursday a “multibillion-dollar transport fund” for growth areas of Sydney, particularly west and southern Sydney. A theme of the announcement will be prioritising public transport over tolled motorways.
Under Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the state government has emphasised the record funding it is directing to new road and rail infrastructure.
As well as the 33-kilometre WestConnex motorway, it has promised tolled motorway extensions to the south along the F6 corridor, and north through the so-called Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link motorways.
The government has almost completed construction of a metro rail line to Sydney’s north west, which it will connect through the city to Sydenham on another new line under construction.
And it has started planning a separate Westmead to CBD via Parramatta “Sydney Metro West” line. Under Mr Foley, Labor says this line is its highest priority.
Labor says it would scrap the $2.2-$2.6 billion first stage of the F6 extension between Arncliffe and Kogarah, as well as the Beaches Link motorway.
In announcing its transport action plan on Thursday, Labor will outline where it will spend the money saved from not proceeding with these projects.
The opposition will not commit on Thursday to a new heavy rail line running along the F6 corridor in southern Sydney. But the logic of the party’s other transport policies may compel such a commitment.
The opposition is proposing to scrap the government’s “conversion” of the existing Sydenham to Bankstown line to running metro-style trains.
On the government’s plans, metro trains would run on a new rail line from Chatswood to Sydenham, and onto Bankstown using the existing line.
Labor’s plan would terminate that new line at Sydenham, saving about a billion dollars in conversion works on the Bankstown existing line.
But this plan would create the eccentric and wasteful scenario of high-frequency and largely empty metro trains terminating and arriving at Sydenham Station, in addition to regular Sydney Trains services.
One option, therefore, would be to extend the Chatswood to Sydenham metro line south via the F6 corridor.