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Houses on the line – The Castle rerun?

MACDONALDTOWN : Residents in Leamington Avenue near Macdonaldtown Station were reeling after a leaflet came through their letterboxes headed: “Your House may be Resumed, Help Stop It!” It was the first anyone knew that the houses they were buying, selling and renovating may soon be resumed. Leamington Ave and surrounding streets are part of the Pines Estate Heritage Conservation Area which is listed on the Heritage Register reports Geoff Turnbull in the South Sydney Herald of July 2010.

The unsigned leaflet was accompanied by a map showing their homes as part of a “construction site area required for CBD Relief Line dives and Main West Connection”. Within a few days a SMH article confirmed that their homes were in an area that may be required for the new railway line. Since then they have been struggling to get information about the plans from the newly formed Transport NSW which has taken over handling the project from RailCorp.

“The Western Express”, or “The City Relief Line” was announced in the February 2010 Metropolitan Transport Plan and is scheduled to be completed by 2018. The new line is proposed to go underground in a “dive” behind CarriageWorks and lead to a new 12-car length underground platform under Little Eveleigh Street near Redfern Station. It follows one of the “Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program: Metro Pitt and Metro West indicative protection corridors” announced back in 2005.

The RWA has purchased a site backing on to the railway line at the bend in Little Eveleigh Street Redfern to serve as the western side of a new concourse in the Redfern Station redevelopment, but also as the entry point to the new underground platform at Redfern. It is not known if any private property around Little Eveleigh Street will be required to construct the new platform.

To sell their unwanted railway land at North Eveleigh, RailCorp made provision for both its next underground city rail line through the site and for servicing its rail network. It was covered in the RWA’s Built Environment Plan in 2006 and in its North Eveleigh Concept Plan in 2008 which included plans for tunnel options through to Redfern Station. The final approval ensures there will be no encroachment on the new line in the redevelopment of North Eveleigh.

What is not clear in the documents is the alignment of the new track for the twelve car trains to allow entry to and from the tunnel from the existing western line. The map dropped in Leamington Ave envisaged the new lines needing to go through private property in Burren St, Pine St, Leamington Ave and Holdsworth St before entering the North Eveleigh site.

A spokesperson for Transport NSW said: “The issues raised in the media recently regarding Leamington Avenue relate to previous studies which Railcorp routinely undertook as part of its ongoing investigation into network and capacity improvement.

“Transport NSW is commencing alignment and design studies for the project and will investigate a number of alignment and construction options. A key focus of the investigations will be to make as much use as possible of land in public ownership and minimise impacts on private property along the route. No decisions have yet been made about property requirements.”

Transport NSW says it is undertaking detailed work with a focus on utilising the Government owned land in North Eveleigh. The RWA has confirmed that “the current Government policy for North Eveleigh is the North Eveleigh Concept Plan as outlined on the RWA website”. The “RWA is reviewing the impacts, if any, of the transport plan on North Eveleigh and the Redfern area more broadly”.

While the North Eveleigh Concept Plan made provision for RailCorp’s retention of an access road and an area on the south west of the site, it is not clear if this represents what RailCorp needs on an ongoing basis or if a greater area will be required during tunnel construction. The North Eveleigh site is ready for sale and there have been discussions between the NSW Government and Sydney University which is keen to buy the site.

Residents to the north of Macdonaldtown Station hope that
Transport NSW can manage the track alignment without the need to resume their homes and that North Eveleigh can be used to provide all the construction area needed for the tunnelling. They are not confident this will happen unless there is public pressure and they are lobbying to try to get the uncertainty resolved quickly.

Carmel Tebbutt, the local Member and Deputy Premier, told the SSH: “I have been advised by the Minister for Transport that the alignment of the City Relief Line as part of the Western Express is still being considered, with RailCorp looking at a number of design options. No decisions have yet been made about property requirements and as with any major project there will be extensive pubic consultation with the community as the project progresses. I understand that some residents have concerns about the project. That is why I have made representations to the Minister on behalf of those residents, and I will meet them shortly.

Transport NSW has now set up a website and made a leaflet drop in the affected area. Transport NSW said: “Investigations which are currently underway into alignment, construction options and property requirements will be concluded as a matter of priority.”

Many of the documents referred to in this article and other information as it is available can be found at

Geoff Turnbull is spokesperson for the residents group REDWatch.

Source: July 2010 Edition of South Sydney Herald