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Rail tunnel plan threatens historic homes

JUST two months after the NSW government spared the heritage suburbs of Pyrmont and Rozelle by dumping the CBD Metro, another historic precinct is under threat from another controversial transport plan reports Andrew West in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4 June 2010.

It has been leaked to the Herald that a block of historic homes between Leamington Avenue and Leamington Lane, Newtown, may be demolished so the government can build a $4.53 billion CityRail ''relief line'' under Sussex Street.

RailCorp has confirmed that it has plans, dating back eight years, that would require the acquisition of properties for a ''dive'' that would allow trains to enter the new five-kilometre tunnel running from Eveleigh - a precinct between Macdonaldtown and Redfern stations - to Wynyard.

''Early work into a city relief line - essentially another rail corridor through the city - suggested that the construction would require some properties in the Leamington Avenue area to be resumed,'' the rail agency wrote in an email to the Herald.

The Herald understands a 2002 report by Hyder Consulting, MetroWest: Construction Site Investigation, shows the government would need to turn Leamington Avenue into a huge construction zone.

The neighbourhood would be spared if the government built it relief line between Redfern and Circular Quay, on an alternative route under Pitt Street. But the Premier, Kristina Keneally, said in February she might reserve that corridor for future Metro trains.

RailCorp says it may not need the properties if it can use a government site at North Eveleigh for building the tunnel entrance.

''That work is continuing, with no final decisions yet made,'' the RailCorp email said. ''As is the case with every major infrastructure project, the community will be given opportunities to have their say on the proposal.''

One resident, Louise Alley, who lives in Holdsworth Street, metres from the proposed demolition zone, predicted another dispute with the government - in the seat of the Deputy Premier, Carmel Tebbutt, who is vulnerable to the Greens - if the plan proceeds.

''Look at what the residents and businesses in Balmain and Pyrmont had to suffer - speculation about their future for more than a year - because of the Metro, and it all came to nothing,'' she said. ''It's extremely disappointing that this plan has emerged as the result of a leak and not through consultation with the residents.''

The government says building the relief line on the western side of the city would bring passengers from the western suburbs into the city faster and relieve congestion at Town Hall and Wynyard but has so far refused to release the analysis to support its claim.

Photo: Uncertain future ... a row of houses on Leamington Avenue, Newtown, that RailCorp is thinking of demolishing. Photo: Dallas Kilponen


REDWatch Notes

See 2005 Map of the Alignment: Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program: Metro Pitt and Metro West indicative protection corridors, October 2005

See Leaflet Dropped in Leamington Ave with possible effected area:  Leamington Avenue Rusumption Warning Leaflet - June 2010

Please also note that the North Eveleigh Concept Plan makes provision of the dive and corridor required for the proposed new line and RailCorp access to the site for construction and derailments - RWA North Eveleigh Concept Plan Preferred Project Report - Sept 2008.

REDWatch has been unable to clarify the implication for North Eveleigh of the RailCorp statment in the article that "RailCorp says it may not need the properties if it can use a government site at North Eveleigh for building the tunnel entrance".