Thursday, July 31, 2008

Eddington critics 'bonkers': Connex chief - The Age

    Clay Lucas
    July 31, 2008 - 12:32PM

    The head of Connex says critics of Sir Rod Eddington's $7 billion proposal to build a rail line running from Footscray to Caulfield are "bonkers".

    Connex chairman Jonathan Metcalfe, brought out in March by French parent company Veolia to help secure the 15-year contract to run Melbourne's rail network, said at a business lunch yesterday his company was backing Sir Rod's plan to the hilt.

    "There is no really comprehensible alternative," he said. "The idea that Rod Eddington has been hood-winked is fundamentally flawed."

    In April, Sir Rod proposed a 17-kilometre rail tunnel running below the CBD at a depth of 50 metres. The tunnel, which would take until 2019 to build, has attracted widespread support from operators, as well as transport and green groups.

    But critics, including the Public Transport Users Association and RMIT transport planner Paul Mees, say the existing network can run substantially more trains if more efficient operational practices are put in place and more trains bought.

    Mr Metcalfe said they were wrong: "From all of my experience, the idea that the existing network can do all of this and cope is frankly bonkers."

    Dr Mees last night challenged Mr Metcalfe to explain why the existing system couldn't carry far more trains.

    "Connex puts out lots of invective but where is the analysis showing why we need this rail tunnel?" he said. "The number of trains you can run down a rail track is an engineering question that can be resolved - all that is required is people who don't have a vested interest in the outcome of the question."

    In his speech, Mr Metcalfe said Melbourne's rail network had just 26 kilometres less track than the London Underground.

    Dr Mees seized on this, saying the London Underground managed to carry more than 1 billion passengers a year compared to Melbourne's 200 million. "And their trains and platforms are smaller than ours," he said.

    Read the original article at

    No comments: