Stage one of the western Sydney light rail project could be delivered as soon as 2020, leading public transport planner Dr Garry Glazebrook said.
Following the state government's promise that light rail would "definitely" be built for western Sydney, the Sun spoke to the academic and transport planner about what light rail would mean for the west.
Dr Glazebrook, who helped devise the City of Sydney's city centre access plan on light rail, buses and integration with heavy rail, described the western Sydney light rail plan as "very good timing" for Parramatta and Sydney as a whole.
He said it would reduce road congestion particularly around Parramatta and Westmead.
"The more you connect up all the different centres and all the different job connections, the better it is for people and the less employment imbalances you're going to get," Dr Glazebrook said.
He identified a potential stage one route from UWS at Rydalmere through Parramatta to Westmead Hospital, which could take as little as two or three years to build following several years of planning and design.
"If the government was keen on accelerating this project, I can't see why they couldn't get stage one open by about 2020," Dr Glazebrook said.
"Then you could do various extensions from that, for example to Carlingford and out to Homebush Bay from Camelia. The $400 million the government is talking about, it's really a down payment on a much larger network."
A Carlingford stop would be "very cheap and straight forward" to build if its single-line railway track with its "very small number of trains" was converted to light rail.
Dr Glazebrook also saw major potential for an eastward link to Homebush Bay, which could cut through large swaths of available land, including at the former Clyde oil refinery.
"We have always had a radial network in the CBD of Sydney. What we need is one for Parramatta.
"It's what I call a double cobweb design for the Sydney region, we'd actually have two major nodes," he said.
"In the long-term, public transport has got to be the answer for reducing congestion. If you simply build more roads, you're only going to encourage more people to drive and clog up the roads again. It's a short-term solution."
Larger scale extensions to Castle Hill and Bankstown could take 20 years to build, with Castle Hill likely to involve land acquisitions due to limited space in potential corridors. He said there was a "major missing link" between Parramatta and the North Shore via Epping.