Major construction on a project which is set to transform Parramatta is underway after the first sod on major works has been turned.

Last Friday, major work commenced for the 12 kilometre first stage of the Parramatta Light Rail project which will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia.

Set to open in 2023, the light rail is expected to cater for around 28,000 people each day by 2026 and put an estimated 130,000 people within walking distance of a light rail stop.

All up, the fifteen light rail stops will link Parramatta’s CBD and train station to the Westmead Precinct, Cumberland Campus, the Bankwest Stadium, the Camellia Town Centre, the new Powerhouse Museum and cultural precinct on the Parramatta River, the private and social housing redevelopment at Telopea, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse and three Western Sydney University campuses.

A second and subsequent stage will connect Stage 1 and the Parramatta CBD to Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park along a nine-kilometre route.\

The new project comes as Paramatta is undergoing significant population growth which will see the city’s population more than double from 234,446 in 2016 to 487,037 in 2041.\

Paramatta is a critical part of the Greater Sydney Commission’s plan to transform the Greater Sydney region into three metropolises.

NSW Acting Minister for Transport and Roads Paul Toole welcomed the commencement of works, adding that the government had already performed decommissioning works along the closed Carlingford rail line in preparation for its return to light rail.

“Today marks a significant step on a project that will transform transport connectivity in a growing part of Sydney,” Toole said.

Toole acknowledged that some disruption as part of the project was avoidable, but said the government would work with business and the community to provide the support they need.

Construction will also be paused along ‘Eat Street’ for three months to enable traders to capitalise on the holiday trading period.