Sydney’s rail network came within hours of potentially shutting down after the Transport Asset Holding Entity (TAHE) failed to get an operating license until the day before it took over the State’s rail assets.
The details about the mad-scramble, which took place in July last year, are in thousands of document obtained by Labor via the NSW Upper House.
They show that Andrew Constance gave TAHE a temporary operating license on the 30th of June 2020, the day before he handed them ownership of the state’s rail assets.
Mr Constance’s decision came despite repeated warnings, some as early as 2017, that TAHE had to have a license to let entities like Sydney Trains operate.
The latest revelations will pour fuel on suspicions that the Government is using TAHE to hide billions of rail network operating costs from the state budget.
NSW Shadow Treasurer Daniel Mookhey labelled the situation about the operating license a farce.
TAHE’s operational arrangements are a house-of-cards,” Mr Mookhey said.
The Government raced to get TAHE an operating license to stop the entire Sydney Train network from having to shut down,” Mr Mookhey said.
They came within hours of potentially having to stop Sydney Trains because TAHE didn’t have permission to offer them access to the rail network .
Worse, Australia’s biggest rail network has secretly run on a temporary license for more than a year.
Hundreds-of-thousands of commuters had their trips jeopardised for the sake a budget trick.
It would be like an airline selling tickets without knowing if they could take-off.
TAHE is a for-profit corporation worth $38 billion. It owns all the rail property assets, rolling stock and rail infrastructure in the Sydney metropolitan area. The Treasurer and the Transport Minster created TAHE in 2018. It answers to both of them.
Under Dominic Perrottet’s and Andrew Constance’s joint stewardship:
- The Government considered using TAHE to avoid paying billions in railway-related depreciations expenses.
- TAHE has churned through three CEOS in 13 months.
- Transport For New South Wales mulled over becoming a for-profit corporation to save TAHE’s budget status.
- The former Transport Secretary repeatedly raised serious safety concerns about TAHE’s operating model.
- Treasury, Transport and TAHE have spent millions on consulting firms like PWC, KPMG and the Boston Consulting Group.
Mr Mookhey said that the Government was exposing the public to greater safety risks as they flail about trying to stop this budget bomb from detonating.
They are making the same mistakes that led to the Waterfall disaster.
Mr Constance owes the public an explanation. He ignored repeated warnings about why TAHE had to have a permanent operating license on day one.”