Second stage of Parramatta light rail up to 10 years from completion

Residents in a number of fast-growing Sydney suburbs are likely to have to wait until early next decade for the second stage of Parramatta’s light rail line to be completed if the state government commits to building it.

The government’s draft blueprint for the redevelopment of suburbs dominated by industry near the Parramatta CBD estimates it will take five to 10 years to complete the second stage of the line from Camellia to 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 the government announced five years ago that construction on the second stage would start in 2020,and two years later “we are still waiting”.

“It’s time for the NSW government to confirm its plans for Parramatta light rail stage two,” he said,adding that communities wanted the government to lock in funding for it in the June budget.

Mr Borger said it would take at least six years to build the second stage,which meant communities along the Parramatta River such as Wentworth Point would be forced to keep driving to get around.

A 325-metrebridge over Parramatta River between Melrose Park and Wentworth Point,near Sydney Olympic Park,would need to be built for the light rail line.

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Transport Minister David Elliott said his immediate focus when he inherited the portfolio after a Cabinet shuffle in December was to sort out “serious issues” facing the public transport network.

“I did not want to be out trumpeting projects when I had not been briefed on them. I also wanted to ensure the market could cope with any further significant construction projects,” he said.

Mr Elliott said an investment decision on stage two of the project would be considered by the government once the final business case had been completed.

Transport for NSW secretary Rob Sharp said a “refreshed” final business case for the second stage was expected to be handed to the government’s expenditure review committee late this year.

An earlier version of the final business case was presented to the government’s adviser,Infrastructure NSW,in 2019.

Last December,Mr Elliott said he wasnot committing to proceeding with the second stage because he had “enough challenges with the current projects” under way in NSW.

Labor transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said the government’s urban renewal plans for areas like Camellia and Melrose Park would fail unless it built the public transport infrastructure new residential neighbourhoods needed.

“These growing communities can’t afford to wait a decade for new public transport services. The government must act now,” she said.

When the proposed route of the second stage was unveiled in 2017,the-then transport minister Andrew Constance said he was hopeful construction would startbefore 2020.

While the state’s transport agency has begun preparing an environmental impact statement,the government hasrepeatedly delayed making an investment decision on the second stage.

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Matt O'Sullivan is transport and infrastructure editor at The Sydney Morning Herald.

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