A couple of weeks ago, the Liberal/National State Government announced their 4th and final budget before next years state election, and whilst many commentators have stated that the budget was basically an election pitch due to this reason. However there was some good points and some points that we were very confused about.
The thing we were confused about here at TfANSW was the $400 million provision to help identify the route which the State Government will build its second light rail link, knowing that such a line will start and terminate within the Parramatta CBD, Sydney's second biggest city within the metropolitan area.
However most of this was done by Parramatta City Council who did a review which was published and released for comment as part of their wider transport and building initiatives and the two routes that the council have identified within their own reports, which in turn has been put as a formal and informal proposal to the State Government and Transport for NSW.
The two routes which Parramatta City Council have made preference are:
- Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood
- Parramatta to Castle Hill via Windsor Road
However the State Government has also selected an additional 8 routes in which the light rail line could also be built within the area. These additional routes include:
- Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Carlingford
- Parramatta to Castle Hill via Old Northern Road
- Parramatta to Liverpool via the T-way
- Parramatta to Bankstown
- Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park
- Parramatta to Rouse Hill
- Parramatta to Ryde via Victoria Road
- Parramatta to Sydney CBD via Parramatta Road
Now what is even more surprising is that the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, has stated to the press and via the press release that Light Rail within the Parramatta CBD area will be built before their own report and consultation is complete for a preferred route.
What baffles us is that why would such a report cost $400Million to find out which route to build the light rail when most of the ground work is done.
That said, it got us thinking, which route should this Light Rail network be built on? Surely going with the Parramatta City Council proposed routes would be a good start, but what about in future as well? Where could such extensions on the light rail network be built in future?
Here is what we think:
Convert the existing three T Way networks
Converting the three existing T-Way Networks which run from Parramatta to Liverpool, Parramatta to Rouse Hill via Westmead and Parramatta to Blacktown, to light rail would be far more beneficial for commuters, given that Buses cannot carry as many as a LRV (Light Rail Vehicle) could.
Honestly converting these existing infrastructure would mean only track, sleepers, overhead wiring and poles along with signals would be required and would mean stations wouldn't have to be built as existing bus stops will be utilised.
There would also provide faster and more convenient connections, freeing up the private buses that run on these networks to other routes and in turn hopefully providing more bus routes for the private operators to run.
Convert the Carlingford line to Light Rail, extending to Parramatta & Westmead Health Precinct
This might sound far fetched, but converting the current heavy rail branch line known as the Carlingford Line, which is served by 1 train in each direction every half to 1 hour would provide more capacity to serve commuters who have long been forgotten about.
Converting the Carlingford line make sense, as it would also remove the last major level crossing and pinch point within the road network along Parramatta Road.
There is great potential for further expansion if this occurs. For example, linking the line to either go to Clyde and possible works its way down to Olympic park could be a future expansion of this network. You could also do a future possible extension of the network towards Macquarie Park and even possibly connecting up to a converted T-Way which would then become part of again future expansion of the network.
Linking this up to Westmead health precinct (i.e: Westmead Hospital, Westmead Private, The Children's Hospital at Westmead & Cumberland Hospital) would also make sense given most express services no longer stop at Westmead and instead their next stop after Blacktown will be Parramatta if heading into the city, or from the city would be Blacktown after Parramatta. This sort of extension would provide an additional boost for commuters and replace the current incumbent services from Hillsbus/Transit Systems Australia.
Connect up to the City via the Light Rail extension down Parramatta Road
What would be beneficial for Western Sydney and indeed Inner-western commuters would be if the Parramatta Light Rail Network linked up towards the soon to be built Sydney CBD light Rail Network via a route down Parramatta Road once the West Connex is built of course.
This would again boost and enhance transport options for all residents but also allow for buses to be re-directed to other routes or possible allow for new routes to be developed. It would also take out the frustrations of Bus commuters who take the bus via Parramatta road and find that they end up staying in a car park due to traffic congestion.
Of course this is just some of the ideas we would like to put forward for possible routes for such a Western Sydney Light Rail Network should be built, but we would like to get your thoughts or suggestions? Do you think one of the above routes should be selected for the LRV network to be built? Do you have another route or suggestions or idea? We would like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Here is the press release from the Transport Ministers office regarding the WSLRN (Western Sydney Light Rail Network).
Western Sydney Light Rail report - Parramatta City Council