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.

Contracts announced for More Trains, More Services infrastructure upgrades

The NSW government has announced the two successful tenderers as part of the next stage of construction on the $4.3 billion More Trains, More Services upgrades.

The Next Rail partnership of John Holland and Jacobs will fulfil the contract between Central and Hurstville, and Transport for Tomorrow – made up of Laing O’Rouke and KBR – will work from Mortdale to Kiama. Each contract is worth about $300 million.

The program of works includes upgrades to rail infrastructure such as stabling yards, signalling, track, station platforms, and power supply on the South Coast, Illawarra and T8 Airport Lines.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that the works would enable better services on each line.

“The work will support the introduction of new suburban and intercity trains and allow us to deliver more frequent train services, with less wait times and a more comfortable journey for customers on the T4 Illawarra, T8 Airport and South Coast lines,” he said.

“We’re prioritising these lines because they are among the busiest on the network, catering for 440,000 trips in a typical day, which is around one third of daily rail customers.”

Construction will begin in the middle of 2020 and be completed ahead of the service improvements, which are scheduled for late 2022.

Passengers will see a 20 per cent increase in peak services on the T4 Illawarra Line, with space for up to 3,600 more travellers, equivalent to an extra three services an hour in the peak from interchanges such as Hurstville and Sutherland. There will be a 60 per cent increase on the T8 Airport line at the International, Domestic, Mascot, and Green Square stations with the capacity for an extra 2,400 passengers.

On the South Coast Line station platforms will be lengthened to accommodate the 10 car trains of the New Intercity Fleet trains as well as an extra off peak service each hour between Wollongong and the Sydney CBD, bringing frequency to a train every 30 minutes.

Constance said that the work will allow for an employment boost across a number of professions, including engineers, trades workers, and apprentices.

“Today’s announcement means we are keeping people in work and creating about 350 direct new jobs and around 200 indirect jobs located either in Sydney or on the South Coast.”