NEW SOUTH Wales is to invest an extra A$273m over the next four years to improve the safety and reliability of Sydney’s urban rail network. Announced by NSW Premier John Carr on December 22, the package will be targeted at lines with the greatest increase in passenger numbers and the poorest service reliability.

There will be A$90m for track maintenance, A$30m to accelerate the construction of two extra tracks to relieve congestion on the East Hills line, A$25m to complete an extra track on the Richmond line by 2002, A$114m over four years to accelerate rolling stock refurbishment and maintenance, and A$14m for driver and guard training.

Transport Minister Carl Scully said ’most delays due to rolling stock involve faulty motors, doors and brakes. The extra funding will accelerate the refurbishment programme to reduce the likelihood of these faults. It will also improve the overall presentation of carriages by increasing the frequency of repairs and upgrades of seats and interiors’.