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Seven year delay for $2bn Epping to Parramatta link

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Over $2bn in funding for west Sydney’s Parramatta to Epping rail link has been pushed back to 2019-20. </span> <p>The funding delay, which had been the subject of rumour over the past few weeks, was confirmed in a budget estimates meeting in Canberra.</p><p>Department of Infrastructure and Transport secretary Mike Mrdak made the confirmation, saying the New South Wales Government didn’t see the project as a top priority.</p><p>“I think the decision to push out the Parramatta Epping Rail Link has not been made by the Commonwealth Government,” Mrdak said.</p><p>“It is a decision of the New South Wales Government, who have decided that that is not a priority project for them in comparison with other projects. Given that position, the Commonwealth is not able to advance that project.”</p><p>Questioned by Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, Infrastructure Australia’s Michael Deegan initially said he could not comment on the rumours.</p><p>But later in the meeting, Mrdak confirmed that $2.080bn in funding for the project had been delayed to at least 2019.</p><p>“The commitment remains but, given the New South Wales Government has not committed to that project, the program funding has been quarantined and pushed out,” Mrdak said when asked about the rail link by Nationals senator Fiona Nash.</p><p>Senator Rhiannon was quick to question the delay, querying the infrastructure department’s decision to fund the M2 to F3 motorway project in Sydney.</p><p>“Why would a project like that get the funding over the Parramatta Epping Rail Link?” she asked. “I know you are saying that that funding is still there. But, considering it has been pushed out for so long, do you weigh up those competing priorities?”</p><p>Mrdak explained that it was the NSW government’s decision, and that the F3 to M2 motorway was viewed as a more important project.</p><p>“An opportunity has arisen where NSW has a strong disposition to proceed with the F3 to M2,” he said. “It is a priority national project and we have decided to provide funding to do that project.”</p><p>“It will make an enormous difference for access down the F3 and then into the city network.”</p><p>Following the committee meeting, Senator Rhiannon and the Greens party “condemned” federal transport and infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese “for shelving federal funding for the much-needed Parramatta to Epping rail line and betraying the people of Western Sydney in favour of motorway funding.”</p><p>“After seven years as transport minister Anthony Albanese is still playing the blame game with the NSW government on urgently needed public rail projects,” Rhiannon said.</p><p>“The Parramatta to Epping rail line has effectively been put off to the never-never. It is more of a cancellation than a deferral.</p><p>“A seven year delay is insulting to people who have been short changed on public transport for decades.”</p>