Construction of the Parramatta Light Rail is moving ahead, with the first tracks laid on Church Street, in the heart of the Parramatta CBD. Read more
Local government and business groups in Parramatta have backed rail as the transport mode of choice for Parramatta Light Rail Stage Two.
Tracklaying has begun on the Parramatta Light Rail project with the first tracks laid at Hawkesbury Road in Westmead.
The bedding in of the 18 metre lengths of grooved rail marks a major milestone for the project, where early works have been underway for months preparing the route and identifying utilities ahead of construction.
The new maintenance facility to serve NSW’s New Intercity Fleet (NIF) regional trains and utility relocation for the Parramatta Light Rail have been completed.
The maintenance facility, located at Kangy Angy on the NSW central coast, includes six kilometres of electric rail lines, spread across seven tracks at its widest point, as well as a rail bridge, access roads, offices and amenities.
Constructed by John Holland for Transport for NSW, the maintenance facility will be operated by UGL Rail as part of the RailConnect consortium which has built, designed, and will maintain the new fleet.
UGL is now hiring staff for the facility, said Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.
“The maintenance facility has created employment, skills development and business opportunities on the Central Coast during construction and that will all continue into operation,” he said.
Testing of the NIF fleet has begun in Australia on the Blue Mountains with three trains having arrived so far. A total fleet of 55 trains with 554 carriages will be delivered to NSW and maintained from the facility at Kangy Angy.
In Parramatta, work is continuing on the construction of the Parramatta Light Rail. A micro tunnelling machine is boring 10 metres a day under Church Street, in the Parramatta CBD, also known as Eat Street.
Program director Anand Thomas said that since February 2020, 300 utilities have been identified and relocated to allow for the streets to be prepared for the light rail line.
“The relocation of utilities in Eat Street, including high-voltage power cables that power the CBD, Sydney water mains, Jemena gas crossings, 500 metres of stormwater pipes and thousands of metres of conduit, is complete,” said Thomas.
“This is a major achievement that enables us to get on with the all-important job of building the network.”
Work to install street lights, tree pits, and drainage on Church Street is continuing ahead of the reopening of the street on November 1 for a three month period.
“From 1 November 2020, as part of our commitment to the community, construction on Eat Street will cease, hoardings will come down, outdoor dining will be temporarily restored and we will deliver activities and events to attract people to the CBD,” said Thomas.
Work to enable light rail to run to Westmead health precinct in Western Sydney is underway, with major construction having begun.
Once complete, the light rail line will link Westmead hospital with Western Sydney University at Westmead station and Parramatta, before travelling on to Carlingford via Rydalmere.
Construction has been ongoing for the project in the Parramatta CBD and the conversion of the existing Carlingford heavy rail line to light rail.
The development of the transport link is in line with the construction of the Westmead health precinct, for which accessibility is a key feature, said Minister for Transport Andrew Constance.
“The precinct will cater to more than 40,000 full-time staff and 30,000 students by 2036 and building this type of infrastructure will be key to our economic recovery and will help get people back to work, important parts of the NSW Government’s COVID Recovery Plan,” he said.
“It’s vital we have strong public transport infrastructure in place to support this growth and deliver this legacy project for future generations.”
Early road works including the widening of Hawkesbury Road have been completed, and the next steps will include removing the road surface, replacing underground utilities, and rebuilding the road.
During the lockdown period, extra work has been completed on the Parramatta Light Rail project. In North Parramatta O’Connell street has been widened and George Street in the Parramatta CBD has been turned into a two-way road.
“While not directly on the light rail route, these road network upgrades will now provide
additional capacity for commuters in and around the CBD, and help to minimise disruption
for the people of Parramatta during construction,” said Constance.
Major works in the centre of Parramatta have begun, bringing the new light rail line from Westmead to Carlingford one step closer.
Work on Church Street in the city centre, also known as ‘Eat Street’ due to its diversity of restaurants and cafes, has commenced.
Crews will remove the existing pavement and road surface to conduct deep excavation and moving or replacing underground utilities such as water, gas pipes, and telecommunication services.
Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that the project was moving ahead to bring the new light rail line closer to completion.
“We know the community is eager to see this light rail built and we will be working hard over the next five months to make the most of this time,” he said.
The works will involve a micro-tunnelling machine that will reduce noise and impact compared to street-level work. The machine will move up to 10 metres a day.
“Our construction timetable together with innovative engineering techniques will see this precinct through to a fantastic new light rail network that will bring passengers into the heart of Parramatta,” said Constance.
The winter works program will be sped up to ensure that as much is done as possible before a construction grace period from 1 November until February 1 so that locals and visitors can return to the alfresco dining precinct during the summer.
Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said that to stimulate business activity during this period, the government will be sponsoring precinct activation works.
“We’re pleased to give businesses certainty that hoardings will come down at the beginning of November, giving everyone a break from construction,” said Lee.
“This is in addition to the many other ways we’re proudly supporting Eat Street.”
Initiatives include installing colourful shadecloth and hoarding, an app to attract patrons, a shop local competition, and business support programs.
Recycled materials are being used on transport projects in Victoria and NSW, making the most of the many infrastructure projects currently underway.
In Melbourne, the newly opened Kananook Train Storage Facility, located in Seaford, used over 11,000 tonnes of recycled rail ballast. The ballast was previously in use on the Melbourne train network and was extracted during the Carrum Level Crossing Removal Project. Instead of going to waste, the ballast was used to build the new storage facility.
The re-use of materials such as ballast reduces the use of raw materials and cuts associated energy used in the mining and transportation of these materials. The project’s environmental impact was also improved by the installation of solar panels on the building’s roof.
The Kananook Train Storage Facility will allow for more trains to run on the Frankston line. A signal control centre at the same site will also help to minimise disruptions by centrally managing train movements. The site includes room for further train storage or a train maintenance facility if required in the future.
In NSW, the Parramatta Light Rail project, which is partly following the former Carlingford Line corridor, has maximised the retention of rail infrastructure from the former line.
Over 15,000 metres of single rail, 13,650 rail sleepers, 13,000 metres of overhead wire and the existing track ballast will be reused on the new light rail line.
Across the entire 12km light rail route, which travels from Westmead, via the Parramatta CBD to Camellia and finishes in Carlingford, recycled components will provide around 30 per cent of the track.
The Western Sydney business community has called on the NSW government to prepare Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 as an economic stimulus project for the region following internal government polling that shows the project’s growing community support.
Internal government polling for the project by Newgate Research, released under Freedom of Information, found a 10 per cent increase in positive community support towards Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 in 12 months.
Knowledge of the proposed route for Stage 2 has increased from 60 per cent in 2018 to 71 per cent the following year, and the likelihood to use Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 route has increased from 54 per cent to 67 per cent.
David Borger, Western Sydney Business Chamber executive director said the jump in support for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is remarkable.
“The NSW government will need to use the state’s infrastructure pipeline to kickstart the economy after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and projects such as Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 can be made shovel ready over the coming months to be a key stimulus project next year,” he said.
“The communities along the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 route and Western Sydney more broadly will be bitterly disappointed if the NSW Government fails to honour its public transport commitments to the region.”
Borger said the future of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 has been unclear and the proven community support should get the project back on track.
“Building Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will help unlock the full potential of the Greater Parramatta and Olympic Peninsula region,” he said.
Allison Taylor, CEO of the Sydney Olympic Park Business Association said the association and Western Sydney Business Chamber have been vocal advocates for the NSW government delivering on its commitment to build the entire Parramatta Light Rail network for both stage 1 and 2.
“What the government’s internal polling confirms is the more the local communities along the preferred route know about the project, the more they like it. They want the government to provide better transport through the region to key centres like Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta,” Taylor said.
“Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is a critical link to the growing communities in Wentworth Point and Melrose Park.”
The report also indicated sentiment towards local public transport is positive with most respondents rating services as either excellent, good or fair.
“Unprompted transport priorities continue to focus on increased frequency of buses and trains and there is a growing desire for more frequent and reliable services – particularly in Stage 2,” the report stated in its findings.
Results revealed that positive sentiment increases with knowledge of the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2, with better and more convenient connections remaining the most common reason for feeling positive about the project compared to results in 2018.
Major rail projects are completing extra works while Australia and New Zealand are under lockdown measures.
In Sydney, a number of projects are taking advantage of lower commuter numbers and relaxed regulations around work hours to progress ahead of schedule.
In Parramatta, work on the light rail project is running seven days a week after the NSW government introduced changes to legislation to expand standard construction hours on weekends and public holidays. Works are being conducted from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm on Church St, and from 7am to 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
According to a Transport for NSW (TfNSW) spokesperson, all works are being done to minimise the impact on the local community.
“All reasonable measures to reduce noise impacts will continue to be implemented, including using the quietest equipment possible, placing machinery and vehicles as far away from properties as possible, conducting high noise generating activities during weekdays where possible, and implementing respite periods as required.”
In Parramatta, disruption is being minimised by scheduling utility works in non-peak periods, using sound blankets, directing lighting towers, and turning off equipment when not in use.
With the Sydney CBD experiencing extremely low traffic volumes during the lockdown period, work on the Sydney Metro City & Southwest has been able to increase. Lane closures previously only possible on weekends have been implemented on weekdays and extended work hours are in place at Central Station.
In Chullora, the construction of the new Digital Systems facility has extended hours over one weekend and will use extra hours where necessary.
Elsewhere in NSW work hours on the New Intercity Fleet maintenance facility have been extended to 7am to 6pm, seven days a week. Extended working hours are also being looked at for station accessibility upgrades at Fairy Meadow, Mittagong, Hawkesbury River, Wyee, and Waratah.
“All community members and stakeholders are thanked for their patience as work continues on important transport infrastructure across NSW,” said the TfNSW spokesperson.
Across the Tasman, KiwiRail has been conducting a significant maintenance program on the Auckland network. Lower commuter numbers during lockdown have allowed KiwiRail to lay over four kilometres of new rail on the Eastern line, said KiwiRail chief operating officer, Todd Moyle.
“We are able to use this time to carry out a great deal of work in a short timeframe. Normally this work would need to be completed during weekends across several months.”
Works will continue until Monday, April 27 and include replacement of worn rail between Glen Innes and Sylvia Park. The Eastern line not only serves commuters but freight rail services from the Port of Auckland.
“We’ve worked closely with Auckland Transport to arrange for this work to be done now so there will be a more reliable network for commuters once COVID-19 levels fall and businesses reopen,” said Moyle.
The slowdown in traffic on the commuter network allows a rare opportunity for continuous track work that would normally be done at weekends or overnight to minimise disruption.
“We’re doing this work now, while we have the opportunity, to avoid future disruptions to commuters and to ensure they get a great service once they return to work,” said Moyle.
Physical distancing measures are in place at all work sites.
Daytime freight services are being rerouted via Newmarket while commuter services are replaced by buses.
Parramatta Light Rail is progressing significant works in the Parramatta CBD. From 8pm, Thursday, April 9, until 5am, Monday April 27, the intersection of Phillip and Church streets will be closed to allow utility works.
The works involve replacing an existing water pipe with a concrete covered pipe. The work will allow for water service operation to continue during light rail construction and operation.
Works to be done at the intersection include excavation, isolating and draining the existing water main, covering the water main and reinstating the roadway.
Buses, cars, and pedestrians will be diverted around the construction site.
Other works on the Parramatta Light Rail project are also continuing, such as the change from heavy rail to light rail on the former Carlingford Line. The project is considered an essential service and is therefore progressing as scheduled.
Meanwhile, the project is encouraging locals and subcontractors to continue to support local eateries whose foot-traffic has been impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdowns.
Underground utility work plagued the construction of the Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail line, with Transport for NSW settling for $576 million with contractor Acciona due to extra costs involved in underground utility work. Although the Parramatta CBD is not as dense as the Sydney CBD, early work was done to identify utilities that are owned by 15 different providers and the program has used an underground 3D digital model to find where utilities are located.