The great divide— or is it?

Fairfield councillor Zaya Toma. Picture Wesley Lonergan
Fairfield councillor Zaya Toma. Picture Wesley Lonergan

THE new 36-kilometre Southern Sydney Freight Line which has started operations has divided Cabramatta in two, Fairfield councillor Zaya Toma said last week.

The $1 billion infrastructure from Macarthur to Port Botany is aimed at speeding up train movements through Sydney as well as improving the competitiveness and reliability of the nation's interstate rail freight network.

As part of the project, a sound wall was erected at Cabramatta station to reduce the freight trains' noise impact.

Cr Toma said the four-metre barrier which cost the Department of Planning $4 million to build has divided the city in two. He is concerned the wall will have a negative impact on the eastern side of Cabramatta which is much smaller when compared to the western side.

"Cabramatta east has three times the vacancy rate in the shops and I'm concerned that the property prices will be reduced by this wall. It further reinforces the stereotypes that Cabramatta east is marginalised and isolated from the west. The Soviet Union put up a wall in Berlin which divided the city and I'm concerned that this is what's happened here.

"We've got east and west Cabramatta now very much divided, very much apart from each other when for an extra little bit of money, it could have all been put underground and we could have united the city."

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the freight-only rail project was part of a much larger capital works program which would take up to a million trucks a year off the nation's highways.

"For many years Sydney has been the single largest bottleneck on the Interstate Rail Network, with freight trains facing frustrating delays getting into and out of the city due to its limited track capacity and the priority given to passenger trains, particularly during peak periods," he said.

"This new dedicated line between Macarthur and Chullora will allow passenger and freight services to operate separately from one another, thereby more than tripling the capacity of this important rail corridor."


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