EXCLUSIVE by Rhys Haynes
The Daily Telegraph
March 09, 2012 12:00AM
FIVE of Sydney's overcrowded and grubby train stations could be handed over to the private sector for redevelopment.
The state government is considering a radical proposal to "bundle" five CBD train stations and release them as a series of public-private partnerships for an overhaul.
Commuters would benefit from redesigned and modern stations, attractive shopping precincts and affordable apartments, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) said.
The overhaul would include the five stations on the City Circle Loop - Redfern, Central, Town Hall, Martin Place and Circular Quay.
IPA, the peak lobby group representing the infrastructure private sector, has submitted the radical plan to the Legislative Assembly committee's inquiry into the utilisation of rail corridors.
The inquiry was set up late last year to examine the use of air space above and around the rail corridor in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney, including the Hunter region and in the Illawarra.
The five train, bus and ferry interchanges present an "opportunity for joint development" because they have high passenger frequency and are in key locations, IPA said.
"This high level of patronage means the station concourse, airspace and adjacent land - if planned for, designed and delivered in a suitable way - is a potentially valuable commercial real estate holding for the government," the report states.
"Many of these stations are in a poor condition, with a sub-optimal legacy design and have not experienced wholesale renovation for many decades."
The private sector is in a position to invest in the proposal, IPA said. "The renovation of these five stations could be bundled as public- private partnerships, in which the private sector would finance train station redesign and renovation.
"A joint development of the high-traffic CBD stations under this model would allow for the redevelopment of Sydney's legacy CBD rail stations at substantially lower cost to the taxpayer while simultaneously delivering world-class facilities to rail commuters.
"The redevelopment would also deliver high-value retail real estate in the CBD."
It was time to replace the "crappy old cafes, bottle shops and newsagents" with quality retail precincts, IPA chief executive Brendan Lyon said.
"When you think about global cities and their transport interchanges, they have done a lot more with their major CBD transport hubs than Sydney has."
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said the proposal would be considered.
"The masterplan is looking at capacity and demand issues around the whole of the transport network, including the CBD railway lines and stations," Ms Berejiklian said.