Community calling for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 to be shovel ready

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.

Sydney business community want more funding for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2

David Borger, executive director of the Western Sydney Business Chamber said Stage 1 of Parramatta Light Rail is at risk of being a “white elephant” due to funding concerns for future stages of the line.

The Western Sydney Business Chamber is urging the NSW government to allocate funding in the NSW budget to get the next stage of the Parramatta Light Rail ready for construction.

Borger said the NSW government committed to building a Parramatta Light Rail network and the business community don’t want to see Stage 1 put at risk of being a “white elephant because the NSW Government has shelved the next stages”.

“We understand that Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is awaiting an ‘investment decision’ by the NSW cabinet. My message to government ministers is give the project the green light and let’s get on with connecting Sydney’s central city with its surrounding suburbs,” he said.

Borger said stage 2 of Parramatta Light Rail ticks so many boxes when it comes to a good public transport project and it builds on the taxpayer investment in Stage 1.

In a Business NSW’s NSW Budget Priorities report, released as a pre-budget submission this month, Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is listed an infrastructure priority.

Business NSW executives stated in the report that Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 has reached the point in its development where further meaningful work needs to be sustained by a government commitment to move forward with the project.

“This budget should allocate funding to allow the next stage of project development to be completed, with an eye to moving towards construction as Stage 1 is completed,” Business NSW executives said.

Infrastructure Australia has also noted the importance of public transport to Parramatta CBD, but Business NSW executives said the next major deliverable that can improve matters has been stuck in a holding pattern since the completion of early business case development.

Connecting hubs of major activity at Parramatta and the Sydney Olympic Park, and joining up the heavy rail, Metro and ferry transport networks, Light Rail Stage 2 serves a fast-growing part of the city. 

Borger said the true value of light rail is when it is a network.

“The NSW Government may very well be needing some economic stimulus projects towards the end of the year. Getting Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 shovel ready would be a common sense decision,” he said.

A spokesperson for Parramatta Light Rail said a final Business Case for the second stage of Parramatta Light Rail is currently being considered by the NSW Government, with an investment decision to follow.

Planning work is currently being further developed and informed by consultation with the community, stakeholders, other NSW Government agencies and transport projects including Sydney Metro West.

In October 2017, the NSW Government announced the preferred route for the second stage of the Parramatta Light Rail, which will connect Stage 1 and Parramatta CBD to Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point, and Sydney Olympic Park.

It will have 10-12 stops over a ten-kilometre two-way track, with travel times of around 25 minutes from Sydney Olympic Park to Camellia, and a further eight minutes to Parramatta CBD.

Businesses want Gold Coast model for Parramatta Light Rail

In response to the federal government’s contribution to the expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, the Western Sydney Business Chamber is calling for more federal funding for stage two of Sydney’s Parramatta Light Rail.

Last Friday’s announcement of a federal infrastructure package for Queensland, which included a $157 million contribution towards Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 3A, has prompted the business advocacy organisation to criticise the lack of funding for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2.

Federal funds make up approximately 38% of the total cost of the Stage 3A expansion of the Gold Coast Light Rail, with the Queensland Government and Gold Coast Council funding the remainder.

“The economic corridor between Sydney CBD and Parramatta is one of the most important in the nation, yet the Federal Government is missing when it comes to funding the transport infrastructure that will unlock thousands of new homes and jobs,” Western Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director David Borger said.

“With the NSW Government yet to make an investment decision and with the announcement looking very unlikely this year, we need the Prime Minister to be the white knight of G-POP [Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula] and come to the table with funding.”

“Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 is a vital project that will ensure that the multi-billion investment in Sydney Metro West works. Stage 2 connects the high-density communities of Wentworth Point and Melrose Park with the metro network.

“If the Federal Government has money for Gold Coast Light Rail then surely it has a role to play in contributing funding to a light rail project in the heart of Australia’s most economically important city,” Borger said.