In late November, the NSW Legislative Assembly’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee handed down its report about how to better utilise rail corridors.
Chaired by Strathfield MP Charles Casuscelli, the committee’s inquiry should have been a good opportunity to promote the use of walking and cycling paths alongside rail corridors (including the proposed GreenWay alongside the light rail extension to Dulwich Hill). Instead, the inquiry had a very narrow terms of reference which meant it really only looked at property development within rail corridors and how to better connect communities across these corridors (rather than along them).
Despite this narrow focus, 21 out of the inquiry’s 64 submissions encouraged the committee to support using the land alongside rail lines for active transport. This included submissions supporting this option from Sutherland, Holroyd, Ku-ring-gai, Campbelltown, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle councils and from the Planning Institute of Australia and National Trust.
These submissions generally promoted the view that rail corridors provided safe and level open space which linked important centres – precisely the sort of thing that cycling and walking paths should do. However, all pointed out the reluctance of RailCorp to support almost anything happening in the rail corridor.
To date, Sydney only has one real rail trail and that’s between Liverpool and Parramatta. Other rail trails promoted in submissions were between Sutherland and Cronulla, Liverpool to Macarthur, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and on the north shore and main north line. Of course, our very own Inner-West GreenWay was also mentioned.
Despite the high number of submissions on this issue, the committee’s report simply noted the interest in this issue and ran a few paragraphs summarising submissions. None of its eight recommendations touched on the issue.
It was a disappointing result for an inquiry which could have done more to examine how best to utilise our rail corridors.