NSW government holds back committing to next Parramatta light rail stage

Businesses fear construction of the second stage of the Parramatta light rail line to Sydney Olympic Park is years away after it was deemed an “uncommitted” project in long-term government plans for the sporting precinct.

Proposed changes to the master plan setting out the development of Olympic Park over the next eight years have not included the light rail line because it “is not a committed project”.

It has cast doubt over whether the government will proceed with the nine-kilometre second stage from Camellia to the Carter Street residential precinct neighbouring Olympic Park.

An artist’s impression of the second stage of the light rail line over Parramatta River between Melrose Park and Wentworth Point.

An artist’s impression of the second stage of the light rail line over Parramatta River between Melrose Park and Wentworth Point.PAYCE

Business Western Sydney executive director David Borger said it would be distressing for residents of fast-growing suburbs along the proposed route of the line such as Wentworth Point and Melrose Park to learn that the second stage was “still uncertain”.

While setting aside$50 million over three years in the June budget for planning,an environmental report and geotech work,the government is yet to make an investment decision on the second stage of the multibillion-dollar project.

Mr Borger said the project was a “prime candidate” for the federal and NSW governments to split the cost on,“just likethe deal that has been done for the various stages of the Gold Coast light rail”.

“The communities located around Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park are likely to determine which party will win the upcoming federal and state elections,” he said. “These communities will be very interested in the future of Parramatta light rail stage two.”

The Liberal-held electorate of Parramatta will be one of the battleground seats at the 2023 state election.

A recent change to the state’s electoral boundaries reduced theLiberals’ margin from 10.6 per cent to 6.5 per cent in Parramatta,which now includes Wentworth Point,Newington and Silverwater.

NSW Transport Minister David Elliott and the state’s transport agency both declined to respond to questions about the second stage of the project.

Click to reload

While Transport for NSW has begun preparing an environmental impact statement,the government hasrepeatedly delayed making an investment decision on the second stage. A final business case for the project has been in the government’s hands since mid-2019.

When the proposed route was unveiled in 2017,the government said it was hopeful construction of the second stage would start before 2020.

Sydney Olympic Park Business Association chief executive Allison Taylor said businesses were eagerly awaiting the government’s investment decision on the second stage.

“It is absolutely necessary because it connects the communities[of Wentworth Point and Melrose Park] to the Olympic Park and the metro[station],” she said.

“We want these communities to come into Sydney Olympic Park and use it. Olympic Park needs people.”

The train station planned for Olympic Park will form part of the$27 billion Metro West rail line from Sydney’s CBD to Westmead.

Ms Taylor said the second stage of the light rail would also support the government’s $2.4 billion investment in the first stage – which is due to open in 2023 – from Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD.

The government’s Sydney Olympic Park Authority is seeking changes to the 2030 master plan to allow the new metro train station to be incorporated into the precinct. The height limit for a building next to the station will be raised from 30 to 45 storeys if the planning changes are adopted.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories,analysis and insights.Sign up here.

Matt O'Sullivan is Transport and Infrastructure Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Most Viewed in National