Premier Mike Baird will commit at least $10 million to a feasibility study on the prospects of a light rail link in the western suburbs of Sydney, running from Parramatta up to Castle Hill and Ryde, with a possible connection to Bankstown.
Baird referred to a potential light rail system as the “missing link” which could potentially fill a major lacuna in Sydney’s intra-city public transportation system.
“You’ve got improved arteries…that funnel into the CBD but the north to south is the missing link from a public transport point of view,” he said.
The proposed $10 million study will build upon work already undertaken by Parramatta City Council, the results of which were released in 2013.
The $1 million Parramatta City Council study concluded that a light rail system would be viable means of satisfying the increasing transportation demands of both Parramatta and Western Sydney, and proposed the staged construction of a line from Macquarie Centre to Parramatta via Eastwood and Dundas, with separate branches extending to Westmead and Castle Hill, as well as Bankstown and Rhodes.
The report also proposed that the state and federal governments provide $20 million in funding for further feasibility studies and the preparation of a business case.
“I think [the light rail project] is about as exciting as you can have from a transport point of view…and I think Parramatta Council’s done very well to do the legwork on this,” said Baird. “They’ve been constructive…we want to pick the ball up and now do improperly…we’re going to measure the full feasibility of the light rail.”
The state opposition has also given its support to a feasibility study for light rail in western Sydney, promising to fund such an undertaking if elected.
Baird said the study would ideally commence “straight away,” with the hope of completing it “as quickly as possible,” and if possible in time for the state election campaign.
Support for the study comes just as other capital cities in Australia mull the adoption of light rail in urban areas. The Tasmanian government commissioned a PricewaterhouseCooper report on the viability of light rail in Hobart’s northern suburbs, while Canberra just recently obtained the results of a study from Ernst & Young which concluded that the Capital Metro would generate nearly 3,600 jobs directly during the initial construction phase.