North West rail link is a proposed railway link / line in Sydney which would connect Epping, The Hills Centre and Rouse Hill. The rail link will reduce the congestion along the route and provide direct rail services to the Norwest Business Park, Macquarie Park, St Leonards, Chatswood, the North Sydney district and the Central Business District (CBD). It will have six stations along the 23km long route. RailCorp will operate the line.
Construction of the project began in 2014 and is scheduled to be completed by 2019. It will provide service to more than 360,000 commuters and is expected to serve more than 485,000 people by the time 2021 comes around.
The rail link is expected to stimulate the growth of residential and commercial developments in the Sydney North West region. It is also estimated that it will create 145,000 jobs in the locality by 2036.
Tunnelling work on the project began in September 2014, four months ahead of schedule. The Northwest Rapid Transit consortium consisting of MTR Corporation (Australia), John Holland, Leighton Contractors, UGL Rail Services and Plenary Group was selected as the preferred operator of the project in June 2014.
Background and disputes of Sydney’s North West rail link development
The North West rail link project was originally proposed in November 1998 as part of eight major rail projects worth $2.6bn. The proposal was to construct a rail line from Epping to Castle Hill and then extend it in 2010 up to Mungerie Park and Rouse Hill.
The project was, however, delayed due to differences of opinion over the proposed route between the state government and Baulkham Hills Shire Council in 2000. A public consultation conducted in March 2002 for eight weeks concluded with 73% voting in favour of the project.
In June 2005 the New South Wales (NSW) government announced the addition of three new rail lines to the City Rail network. The North West rail link is one of the three lines. The application and the preliminary environmental assessment for the project approval were released in April 2006.
Government of NSW allocated $314m for the project in its 2011-2012 budget. About $222m of the allocation will go towards buying land and route alignment for the project.
In December 2011, a four kilometre skytrain line was also proposed. It will be built above ground between Bella Vista and Rouse Hill stations, along with another 19km in underground tunnels. A 270m cable-stayed bridge will be built over the Windsor Road at Rouse Hill, as part of the project. A parking area with 4,000 new parking spaces is proposed for the skytrain line. Construction on the skytrain project started in June 2014.
Infrastructure and construction of RailCorp’s and NSW’s railway line / link
The project includes construction of the 23km rail line from Epping to Rouse Hill in North West Sydney and 15km of tunnel between Epping and Kellyville.
Eight new stations will be built at Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, The Hills Centre, Norwest, Kellyville, Rouse Hill, Bella Vista and Cudgegong Road.
The drilling activity began in September 2011. More than 100 excavators ranging between 5t and 70t of capacity will be used for the construction.
Earth works will include removing about 2.4 million cubic metres of spoil which includes crushed Sydney sandstone and shale. About 70,000t of steel will be used for the construction of the railway tracks and reinforcing the concrete.
More than 3,000 park and ride spaces will be developed in future as part of the project. Major tunnelling work began in 2014.
Alstom Rolling Stock for the North West rail link
Alstom will be responsible for the rolling stock and signalling system for the North West rail link. As part of the €280m worth contract awarded in September 2014, Alstom will design, supply, manufacture, test and commission the rolling stock and the signalling system.
Alstom will supply 22 Metropolis train sets for the project. The fully-automated trains will have six cars each and three double doors per car for improved passenger flow.
Contractors involved in the Sydney North West region’s rail link project
The contract to design the infrastructure of the North West rail link was awarded to a consortium led by AECOM in July 2011. The consortium partners include Grimshaw Architects, Cox Architects and Parsons Brinckerhoff Australia.
The consortium is responsible to provide route alignment options, tunnel design, infrastructure planning and station locations. It will also be responsible for providing technical advice, architecture, engineering and rail system support.
Turner & Townsend were contracted in July 2011 to provide cost planning services for the project. Coffey Geotechnics was awarded the geotechnical drilling services contract in August 2011.
The $1.15bn tunnelling contract for the 15km twin tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping was awarded to the Thiess John Holland Dragados joint venture in June 2013. The $340m contract for the elevated skytrain project was awarded to the Impregilo-Salini joint venture in December 2013.