Monday, 10 March 2014

Light rail link 'in the mix'

A light rail line from Parramatta up to Castle Hill and out to Macquarie Park is shaping as a likely 2015 Coalition ­election promise.
The state government has included the concept in its strategy for lands it owns in Parramatta North.
The plans announced by government planning agency Urban Growth NSW includes a map containing light rail through Parramatta, raising hopes the light rail lines to Macquarie Park, Castle Hill and Bankstown could become a reality.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian confirmed yesterday that it was “in the mix”.
Her transport officials were “assisting” Parramatta Council with work they were doing on the project. Under a proposal pushed by the council, one line would operate from Westmead through Parramatta to Eastwood and to Macquarie Park.
Another line would run from Parramatta to Castle Hill. All up, there would be 30km of track with hopes in the future of adding a Parramatta-to- Bankstown line.
Ms Berejiklian even flagged a potential light rail line west of Parramatta, saying that with the growth in western Sydney “it’s more difficult to travel around western Sydney than almost coming to the CBD”, she said.
The government has ­already committed to a $700 million light rail line in Newcastle and a $2 billion line from the heart of Sydney past ­Central Station through ­Randwick to Kingsford.
Parramatta Council has put the cost of both lines it proposes at about $1.7 billion — less than the City light rail.
Liberal Parramatta MP Geoff Lee says he is pushing for a $20 million government study at least into the project before next year’s election.
“I’ll push as hard as I can. The corridor is there from Castle Hill to Parramatta. They have the corridor reserved down Old Windsor Road. It’d be fantastic,” Mr Lee said.
Parramatta mayor John Chedid said he wanted to meet Ms Berejiklian in a month to further the proposal and said the council had received interest from private sector companies in Australia and overseas to build the project.
The Minister said if the project stacked up, the government would take it over and compared Parramatta’s work to how Randwick Council did studies prior to the government committing to that line.


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