Parramatta Light Rail is a proposed dual-track, light rail project aimed at meeting the growing public transportation needs in the Greater Parramatta region of New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

The project is part of a $73bn infrastructure programme undertaken by the NSW Government to support major public transport projects in the region.

The light rail project will create world-class public transport facilities in Parramatta, which is considered to be Sydney’s second central business district (CBD). This will provide job opportunities for citizens in the region.

It will also bolster the existing transport network including WestConnex, Sydney Metro West, and rapid bus routes along strategic corridors.

Parramatta light rail project history

The City of Parramatta Council and the state government conducted feasibility studies and shortlisted four corridors for the project in 2014. The corridors include Parramatta to Macquarie Park through Carlingford and Parramatta to Castle Hill.

Other routes include Parramatta to Bankstown and Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park and Strathfield/Burwood.

The NSW Government undertook a detailed study on the possible opportunities for employment and urban renewal as well as technical and environmental issues across the shortlisted corridors.

Westmead to Carlingford via Parramatta CBD and Camellia corridor was identified as the preferred corridor for stage one of the project.

Details of Parramatta light rail stage one

The first stage of the proposed project will run from Westmead to Carlingford covering a distance of 12km. It will also include the conversion of 5km of a heavy rail line between Carlingford Line and Sandown Line into light rail.

Minor changes will be made to the existing road network to accommodate the light rail infrastructure.

The 12km section will connect 16 stations in the urban areas including Sydney Stadium, the new Powerhouse Museum, Riverside Theatre Precinct, and the Rosehill Racecourse. It will also connect the three Western Sydney University campuses at Westmead, Parramatta, and Rydalmere.

Construction on stage one is expected to start in 2018 upon receiving planning approval. Rail operations are scheduled to begin from 2023.

Proposed second corridor planning

The proposed corridor for the second stage is a 9km route connecting Parramatta CBD to Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park. The route will include between ten and 12 stations.

Planning for the second stage of the project is ongoing. It is expected to be finalised by the end of 2018.

Rolling stock and technology details

The rolling stock to be used for the project is a range of lightweight, modern and comfortable air-conditioned vehicles. The vehicles will be 45m-long and able to carry approximately 300 passengers.

“Construction on stage one of the project is expected to commence in 2018 upon receiving planning approval, with rail operations commencing from 2023.”

The vehicles will provide accessible priority seating or supporting devices to disabled passengers and senior citizens. They will use electricity provided by overhead lines for operations.

Visual displays and audio systems installed in the vehicles will provide customers with real-time information about the upcoming stations, and other important travel updates.

Providing customers with convenient travel options, an advanced electronic ticketing system from Opal will be embedded into the network.

Benefits to the Parramatta area

Conversion of the heavy rail line between Camellia and Clyde will reduce traffic congestion at railway crossings on Parramatta Road and enhance traffic flow on major roads of Sydney.

Several connections with existing interchanges will make the rail line an alternative to passengers planning for outdoor tours in the Greater Parramatta region to the Olympic Peninsula (GPOP) area.

Contractors involved in the project

The NSW Government has shortlisted five groups to build stage one of the light-rail project.

Contractors shortlisted for infrastructure works include a joint venture of CPB Contractors and Downer EDI Works and John Holland. The infrastructure works contract involves major construction work including urban design.

Three consortiums have been shortlisted for the supply, operations and maintenance contract. The successful consortium will be responsible for vehicle supplies, design and construction of stabling and maintenance facility, and operations and maintenance of the project.

The Connecting Parramatta consortium comprises John Holland, ALSTOM Transport Australia, and Deutsche Bahn.

The Greater Parramatta consortium includes Downer EDI Rail, Keolis Downer, Downer EDI Works, Ansaldo STS Australia and CRRC Changchun Australia.

The third Great River City Light Rail consortium comprises Transdev Australasia, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), and Laing O’Rourke.

The contract is expected to be awarded in 2018.