The long-awaited Infrastructure NSW report has put the brakes on the proposed light rail network around Parramatta and says connections between western and central Sydney are a greater priority.
The 20-year State Infrastructure Strategy says Parramatta Council’s ‘‘Western Sydney Light Rail proposal is based on sound long term objectives’’.
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But rather than invest in the $9.5 billion project, the report recommends ‘‘an immediate solution is the ongoing enhancement of bus services’’ along existing roads.
‘‘The council proposes light rail as ‘a viable, quick-to-build solution for western Sydney’,’’ the report says.
‘‘It hopes that light rail will assist in building employment centres close to homes in western Sydney, particularly in Parramatta.’’
The council has estimated the initial stage of the light rail network would cost $3b to link Parramatta, Castle Hill, Bankstown and Epping or Macquarie Park.
And a second stage with an additional 105 kilometres would cost $6.5b.
But the report presented by Infrastructure NSW chairman Nick Greiner does not share the council’s faith in the network’s benefits.
‘‘To justify an investment of this scale there would need to be some confidence that it would address the key constraints to greater employment growth in Parramatta,’’ it says.
‘‘It’s Infrastructure NSW’s view [that] a more fundamental constraint is the connectivity of Parramatta to global Sydney, and, more broadly, Sydney’s west to Sydney’s international gateways.’’
The report says only after ‘‘building demand over time’’ will a ‘‘fully dedicated bus way or light rail’’ network be viable.
In his response to the report, Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Barry O’Farrell refused to comment on the light rail network.
‘‘That’s an issue we will look at when we consider the report in more detail,’’ he said.
‘‘Those issues will be addressed by the end off the year.’’
Mr O’Farrell has repeatedly deflected questions about his support for the light rail network, saying he would wait until the Infrastructure NSW report was tabled.
Parramatta Lord Mayor John Chedid was not available for comment