It’s not often that you see rail workers in Sydney ripping up and removing once heavily-used rail lines. But that’s what’s been happening at Dulwich Hill during November and the removal presents a golden opportunity to construct part of the GreenWay.
Workers have been removing lines from what is known as the western fork of the former goods line near Jack Shanahan Park. The western and eastern forks were designed to allow freight trains from Rozelle to travel either west to Enfield or east to Port Botany when they hit the main southern Sydney goods line. The eastern fork is now being used for the light rail extension (including the Dulwich Hill light rail station) while the 200m long western fork is surplus to requirements. Jack Shanahan Park sits in the middle between these two forks – an open space oasis surrounded by three rail corridors.
It was always envisaged that the GreenWay would travel along this western fork once it was no longer needed for rail purposes. However, with the GreenWay vision stalled, the area is now in limbo. Marrickville Council is currently examining a plan of management for Jack Shanahan Park and really should be looking to extend the park into the western fork area and at least creating a small part of the GreenWay and boosting the area’s open space. In return, you’d expect that RailCorp – now that it no longer needs the land – should be willing to hand it to the council for open space.
Now that the government is resisting building the entire GreenWay at the one time, it seems more likely it will be constructed piece-by-piece. The western fork could effectively be the southern entry to the GreenWay, providing cycling and pedestrian access from Ness Avenue to the Hercules St bridge. Once over Hercules St, the government has committed to building another 100m pathway alongside the Dulwich Grove light rail stop to New Canterbury. Hey presto – you’ve suddenly got a sizeable section of the GreenWay in place and pressure will then build to construct the GreenWay north of New Canterbury Rd to Johnson Park and beyond.
Anything must be better than the current situation, with residents complaining about RailCorp’s failure to manage the land. It seems as though the area is a haven for red-bellied black snakes, noxious weeds, foxes and rats, although the over-growth may well also make it a suitable home for bandicoots.
What can’t be denied is that there is a once in a generation opportunity to increase the inner-west’s open space and carve a niche for the GreenWay.