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 an $87.2bn 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.

The Parramatta light rail is expected serve up to 28,000 people a day by 2026.

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 are 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.

The early and enabling works for stage one are underway, whereas the main construction works will begin in 2019. Rail operations on the stage one route 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.

The preferred route was announced in October 2017 and the final business case for stage two was completed in 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.

“The early and enabling works for stage one are underway, whereas the main construction works will begin in 2019.”

Vehicles will feature accessible priority seating or supporting devices for passengers with reduced mobility. 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 upcoming stations and other important travel updates.

In order to provide 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.

The $840m major contract for the construction of light rail infrastructure was awarded to a joint venture of Downer and CPB Contractors in December 2018.

Great River City Light Rail consortium was awarded a $536m contract in December 2018 for building the depot, light rail stops and power systems along with supply and operation of the network while Ventia was awarded the contract to remediate the site at Camellia.

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