The state government has ditched its plan to shut the Bankstown Line six weeks a year for the next five years to make way for construction as part of its widespread Sydney Metro upgrades.

Following community pressure, the proposed closures – to facilitate the build of a stand-alone rail line between Bankstown and Sydneyham and the conversion of 11 stations to metro standards – will be reconsidered. And the heritage character of the stations along the 122-year-old rail corridor, such as ticket booths and platform buildings, will be kept.

Community groups campaigned fiercely to prevent the disruptions and the demolition of heritage aspects from going ahead. The Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance – a collection of local groups concerned by over development along the 13-kilometre stretch between the two suburbs – was among the most active protesters, rallying support online and encouraging residents to letters to state MPs on both sides.

NSW Labor has vowed to ditch the project all together if it wins the next state election.

It’s still unclear how the government plans to minimise closures during the conversion period, and a six month shutdown towards the end of the construction phase in late 2023 will still go ahead, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“[A] program of closures is being refined to minimise impacts as much as possible for customers,” a statement on the Sydney Metro website reads.

“Sydney Metro is also investigating short individual station closures to deliver benefits such new lifts, level platforms and building upgrades sooner and also reduce construction times and impacts.”

The new connection is intended to ease congestion by increasing the number of hourly services, and offering direct access to major CBD stations with faster travel times.

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