Victoria Park may play host to a new train station, as the State Government decides where to build a stop between Central and Sydenham. The station would link two arms of a proposed ‘Sydney Rapid Transit Network’, giving students on the planned north-west rail link and Bankstown train line direct access to the University.
The proposed network would extend the $8.3 billion North-West Rail Link into the city, via new tracks connecting Epping and Chatswood and a second harbour tunnel. All planned services would run without a timetable. Instead, trains will run approximately every five minutes on the new lines. Conversion of all existing infrastructure between Sydenham and Bankstown to be compatible with single deck trains would accompany the construction of an underground rapid transit track between Central and Sydenham via a new station. Victoria Park and Dank St in Waterloo have been identified as the two possible locations for this station.
Which option the Government will favour has been the subject of intense lobbying by the University. USyd Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has met with Premier Mike Baird to lobby for the train station in recent weeks (Honi speculates that a substantial number of chummy first-name jokes were made). Further meetings have been held with the state Transport and Planning Ministers, as well as the Treasurer.
Honi Soit understands that the University is arguing that a train station so close to campus would increase enrolments from the Hills District and the Bankstown and Lakemba areas. Spence has said that the proposed station “would make it much easier for staff and students from the north-west and south-west of Sydney to access the University,” suggesting that “it would be a catalyst for the creation of a vibrant knowledge-based precinct”. Questions around a University area only now becoming “knowledge-based” aside, students would likely benefit from improved disabled access that is currently not provided at Redfern Station.
Funding for the project is not yet certain. If re-elected at the State Election in March, the Liberal Government will fund the network by privatising 49% of the state’s electricity infrastructure. Opponents argue that this policy is not substantially different to the privatisation models that contributed to Campbell Newman’s dramatic loss in the recent Queensland election.
What the construction of a station would mean for Victoria Park—particularly the pool, pond and significant amount of open space—is unclear.
The decision is likely to be made by the end of 2016. Construction is scheduled to begin by 2018 with the new lines in operation by 2023.