Plan for new River Rail link to connect Sydney’s south and west

The Georges River Council is making the case for a new rail line linking Kogarah with Parramatta, via Bexley North and Bankstown.

The line, dubbed “River Rail” would provide a link between the T4 Illawarra Line, the T8 South Line, the T3 Liverpool Line, and the T1 Western line, all of which are currently only linked via the City Circle.

In a report released by the council, which stretches from Kogarah to Hurstville and Riverwood in Sydney’s south, the construction of a new corridor linking the area’s radial train lines would enable greater access to employment and education. Currently, the area has the lowest levels of public transport accessibility, with only 24 per cent of dwellings located within 30 minutes of a metropolitan centre via public transport.

The proposal, estimated to cost $10.5 billion, has an indicative alignment from Kogarah to Bexley North, with a new stop near Roselands before a connection at Bankstown, Chester Hill and Granville, via South Granville, and then terminating in Parramatta.

According to Mayor of Georges River Council Kevin Green, the new rail line would enable a true 30-minute city.

“The River Rail connection between Kogarah and Parramatta is a critical project which will transform the future of Sydney and the only way that the NSW State Government’s 30-minute city goal can be achieved for the South District,” said Greene.

“This vision, which strives to create a city where most residents live within 30 minutes of their jobs, education and health facilities, services and great places, requires investment in direct public transport links like the River Rail.”

The report highlights that without the link, there is little connection to the growing central river city, centred on Parramatta, for Sydney’s southern suburbs. The link would also enable further connections to the future parklands city and Aerotropolis.

Committee for Sydney CEO Gabriel Metcalf said that the proposed line would move Sydney’s network away from a radial network with the Sydney CBD as the main interchange.

“There has been much focus on the development and improvement of other areas of Sydney in recent years, such as the Aerotropolis in Western Sydney, and it is now time acknowledge and invest in the role of Sydney’s South District in our future city.”

Transport for NSW’s Future Transport 2056 Strategy indicates the connection between Hurstville and Parramatta as a “city-shaping corridor” but does not specify whether rail would be the preferred transport mode. In the Greater Sydney Commission’s Metropolis of Three Cities plan, the connection is identified as a train link investigation/visionary.

Rail the next step for economic stimulus: Committee for Sydney

The Committee for Sydney has prioritised infrastructure investment as essential to the viability of Sydney and Australia.

Responding to the federal government’s fiscal stimulus package to address the COVID-19 pandemic, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, Gabriel Metcalf wrote that infrastructure should be included in future rounds of stimulus. In particular, Metcalf highlighted the importance of rail projects.

“Medium-sized projects like More Trains, More Services in Sydney or the level crossings program in Melbourne, deliver huge benefits to commuters and to the economy. Even some larger projects could begin construction within 12-18 months if funding were allocated (most importantly, the initial tunnelling packages for Metro West),” wrote Metcalf.

While Metcalf argued that infrastructure spending had fallen out of favour as the time it took to see projects to completion has increased, the early stages of an infrastructure project are as valuable to the wider economy as other forms of stimulus.

“The planning work counts as stimulus too. The engineers, architects, and designers are also going to need jobs,” wrote Metcalf.

Other positives noted by the Committee for Sydney included the long-term benefit of infrastructure, beyond the immediate crisis, and the value of infrastructure investment as a signal to improve business confidence.

While many infrastructure projects were listed in the Infrastructure Australia Priority List, the Committee for Sydney noted that other rail projects are also in need of investment. These include, metro from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park, Kogarah, and Epping; expansion of Sydney Light Rail to Green Square; and fast rail from Sydney to Newcastle and Wollongong.

Mayor of Georges River Council Kevin Greene welcomed the comments from the Committee for Sydney, according to comments in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader.

“Georges River Council warmly welcomes the support of this rail connection – it will completely transform the possibilities for Kogarah and fulfil the role envisaged for it in the GSC’s planning,” said Greene.