Review of Environmental Factors released for Blue Mountains rail line

State MP Trish Doyle has cast doubt on the 2019 delivery timeline for new Blue Mountains commuter trains after the state government released construction details for the project today [August 8].

The Review of Environmental Factors (REF) states: “Subject to approval, construction is expected to commence in 2018 and take around two years to complete”.

Ms Doyle said the “Berejiklian government had to be dragged kicking and screaming but they have finally admitted the extent of works required to make their wide-body South Korean trains fit our tracks”.

“The widening project requires tracks to be ripped up and relaid - called slewing – throughout the 60 kilometre distance between Springwood and Lithgow. It also requires up to 25cm to be removed from the edges of each platform at every station along the line, and the platform canopy at Faulconbridge station has to be hacked back by 11cm.”

Ms Doyle said the REF left her with “very little confidence in the government’s capacity to deliver these new trains to Blue Mountains commuters in 2019 as promised”. 

“The documents… admit the trackwork and platform modifications will take at least two years while additional upgrades to the Mount Victoria stabling yard will be dealt with in a separate project. 

The existing Blue Mountains train fleet.

The existing Blue Mountains train fleet.

“Finally, the widening of the 10 tunnels between Lithgow and Bell is being pushed off into the never-never, and this remains the tightest pinch point along the line.”

Commenting last week before the release of the REF details, Upper House Liberal MP Shayne Mallard said “to support this modern fleet we need to make some changes to the Blue Mountains line and bring it into line with the rest of the intercity network”. 

Mr Mallard said “any project of this scale needs to be approached in a way that balances both the preservation of our rich history with the delivery of the trains of the future”. 

“To ensure this happens, these modifications have been designed in collaboration with heritage specialists to minimise the impact on state and locally-listed heritage items. 

“The REF offers the community the chance to learn more about how the NSW government will identify potential natural and historical impacts and the mitigation measures that we will put in place.

“More importantly, it gives people the opportunity to play a part in informing our future plans,” he said.

The new train fleet will be double-deck with two-by-two seating, better accessibility for less mobile customers, have digital screens and announcements, charging stations for mobile devices, and dedicated space for luggage, prams, bicycles and wheelchairs.

The Review of Environmental Factors is now available online at https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/current-projects/new-intercity-fleet-program-springwood-to-lithgow-rail-corridor

Transport for NSW project teams will also be on hand to meet with the public at a series of local information sessions at Springwood, Katoomba and Lithgow in August: 

Blue Mountains Community Hub, 104-108 Macquarie Road, Springwood on Friday, August 11 from 4-7pm and Saturday, August 19 from 10.30am-1.30pm.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, 30 Parke Street, Katoomba on Saturday, August 12 from 10.30am-1.30pm and Tuesday,  August 15 from 4-7pm. 

Lithgow Valley Plaza, Bent and Lithgow Streets, Lithgow on Monday, August 21 from 3-6pm and Tuesday, August 22 from 12-3pm.

People can also call the project infoline on 1800 684 490 or email projects@transport.nsw.gov.au.

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