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Community consultation has started on Sydney's second harbour rail crossing with Premier Mike Baird saying the mammoth project is "well and truly underway" after the partial privatisation of the state's electricity network was given the green light.
The crossing would see a new line extend under the harbour and city, connecting to the existing rail system at Chatswood on the northern side and Sydenham on the southern, where trains will then connect to an upgraded Bankstown Line.
"Last night we got the green light to commence the transaction. The great news about that is that it is a green light on every infrastructure project that we committed to in the lead up to the election," Mr Baird said at a press conference on Thursday morning.
Sydney Metro project director Rodd Staples, left, with Mr Constance and Mr Baird on the Geotech barge. Photo: Edwina Pickles
"As of last night, the button has been pushed. It is green light, good to go."
The rail line, slated to cost between $9.5 billion and $11 billion, is part of $20 billion of infrastructure projects that Baird promised to fund on the condition that the state's poles and wires were leased.
The bills allowing the lease were passed in the upper house of the NSW parliament late on Wednesday after negotiations with Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile.
Mr Baird said three businesses would be leased over the next 18 to 24 months but the government would be "cracking on" with building the promised infrastructure while negotiations were underway.
The long-mooted second harbour rail crossing will form part of what was originally called the Sydney Rapid Transit network, but has been rebranded as the Sydney Metro.
It has two main components: Sydney Metro Northwest (the 36km north west rail link) and the Sydney Metro City and Southwest (the new 30km line from the end of the north west rail link, under the harbour, through the city and to Bankstown).
The rapid transit network will use single-deck trains operating as a "turn up and go" service and aims to provide capacity for up to 30 trains per hour in each direction, allowing 60 per cent more trains in peak periods across the network.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said the crossing was a "game changer" but conceded Sydney residents would "have to be patient" while construction caused disruptions.
The government has previously announced new stations will be built at Central, Pitt Street, Martin Place, St Leonards-Crows Nest and Victoria Cross, near North Sydney. Stations at the Artarmon industrial area, Barangaroo, the University of Sydney and Waterloo are also being considered.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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