Belair Railway Line

In Parliament - Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (16:43:17): I rise today to bring to the house's attention the ongoing failures of critical transport and infrastructure in my electorate. The boom gates at the Blackwood and Glenalta level crossings along the Belair rail line have repeatedly failed. Throughout last year there were multiple occasions when the boom gates jammed, including on 2 January 2015, the day of the Sampson Flat bushfire. Just last month the boom gates near the station failed, including on Tuesday 5 January 2016 at the Blackwood station crossing.

Essential maintenance upgrades along the Belair line were completed in December, with the line closed from midnight on Christmas Day until 30 December. It was claimed that these upgrades would, and I quote, 'deliver better train services to the area.' I had hoped that the maintenance work would deliver an improved service, but, alas, this was not to be the case.On 5 January this year, just five days after this essential maintenance was undertaken, we found out that nothing had changed. It took just five days to once again illustrate this government's inability to deliver on its promise for a reliable and efficient public transport system. It took just five days to show the government's lack of action in the electorate of Davenport. In this day and age jammed boom gates pose serious safety issues in an emergency situation and they should not still be malfunctioning at the rate that they do on the Belair line. It is also a terrible inconvenience that results in lost productivity, as the motorists sit idle waiting for boom gates to open or take lengthy detours instead.

I have written to the Minister for Transport on many occasions seeking answers on this issue, and I eagerly await his response and certainly hope that a plan of action will be implemented by the department in regard to these boom gates but, once again, we are still waiting. If Adelaide wishes to be a modern, world-class city, it must have modern day, world-class public infrastructure that matches it. Melbourne and Sydney electrified their railways almost a century ago, and we here in South Australia have a lot of catching up to do.

As we have seen with the Seaford line electrification project, this government is incapable of delivering projects as promised. This government is all about politics and rarely about policy. Sound policy tells us that Adelaide should follow the lead of our interstate rivals and commit to a time frame to complete the electrification of Adelaide's passenger rail network and stick to it, rather than the current on again, off again, on again timetable, which is a bit like the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd legacy.

As I often do, I had the pleasure last week of catching the train, as I did again this morning, from Adelaide to Belair, and last week I was joined by the member for Mitchell to highlight the many issues with our suburban train lines. It was mentioned during a current affairs program report last week that new electric trains on the Seaford line are capable of speeds of up to 110 km/h but, because of the unsatisfactory state of the newly laid track, Adelaide's brand-new trains are prohibited from going faster than 80 km/h.

Naturally, safety comes first, but after spending $500 million—almost half a billion dollars—of taxpayers' money, you would expect to see a significant return on the investment. Once again, the taxpayers of this state have been let down by this Labor government. The inability of this lazy Labor government to deliver the infrastructure that South Australia needs is inexcusable. If the promise of electrification of the Gawler line is ever completed by this government, on time and as promised, then I sincerely hope that further speed restrictions on the new trains are not necessary.

If you compare the 1951 Belair train timetable with today's timetable, it is absolutely identical—not one minute faster but, unfortunately, often late and unreliable. The idea that Adelaide's trains are no faster than the steam trains of yesteryear says a lot about the state of our rail network. Many people are shocked when they hear that our trains are no faster than when Sir Thomas Playford was running this state half a century ago.

In many respects, South Australia has been treading water since Sir Thomas Playford left office in 1965. It is quite obvious that the malaise that we have seen over the last 50 years can be put down, in many respects, to 40 years of Labor maladministration. We have had a Labor government more concerned with spin over substance, and this is a testament to public infrastructure and transport at the moment.

South Australia needs a change and a fresh direction, and only a Liberal government in 2018 will get South Australia moving again. South Australians are tired of having the highest unemployment rate in the country, the worst performing public schools and chronic ramping at our public hospitals. My constituents want to use public transport, they want to use the system, but they are held back by an inefficient and outdated transport system. We deserve and we must do better.