Ground has broken on a four-kilometre section of elevated railway which is expected to form a key plank of Australia’s biggest rail infrastructure project currently under development.

In a ground breaking ceremony last week, New South Wales State Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian turned the first sod on Sydney’s $340 million ‘Skytrain’ project at the site upon which the new Kellyville station will be built approximately 13 metres above the ground.

Part of the broader $8.3 billion, 36-kilometre North West Rail Link stretching from Chatswood to Rouse Hill, the Skytrain project involves the construction of four kilometres of elevated rail between Rouse Hill and Bella Vista as well as two above-ground stations at Kellyville and Bella Vista.

It will be built by Italian industrial group Salini Impregilo, which operates in more than 50 countries. Salini Impregilo’s current/previous rail projects include work on a number of underground subway systems in cities such as Paris, Rome, Doha Athens, Copenhagen and Santiago.

In a statement, Berejiklian said the elevated railway was an innovative concept which will minimise disruption during both construction and subsequent operation.

“The skytrain is a great innovation which means the new railway line will not cut communities in two,” she said. “Instead, people and cars will be free to move around under it. Construction impacts to traffic will also be minimal as work takes place above ground.”

North West Rail Link

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Set to be operational in 2019, the North West Rail Link will represent Stage One of a broader Sydney Rapid Transit network which will include a second Sydney Harbour rail crossing and Western extension to Bankstown.

Berejiklian said the impact of the new link cannot be understated.

“The North West Rail Link will change the way of life here for generations to come as an extra 200,000 people move to Sydney’s North West over coming decades, taking this region’s population above 600,000 – or twice the size of Canberra,” she said.

Geotechnical drilling work is underway at Kellyville as well as the remainder of the skytrain route to determine ground conditions and the positioning of the 112 piers which will be used on the project.