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BLACKTOWN Mayor Stephen Bali is calling on the State Government to commit to a “Mid-Western” passenger rail line, as well as a north-south one, to connect the west to Sydney’s second airport.
“What we need to ensure is two connections, which connect to the heavy rail lines,” Cr Bali, who is also the president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, said.
Pictured is Federal Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher with new Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres at the site of the future Badgerys Creek airport. Picture: Richard DobsonHe envisages the mid-western link to start at Cudgegong Road Station (on the Sydney Metro Northwest Rail Link), to Blacktown/Mt Druitt “or through Marsden Park”, the future Badgerys Creek airport, and Liverpool to slash times travelling between Sydney’s north west and south west.
He also wants an “outer link that captures Richmond, Penrith, through Badgerys Creek and out to Campbelltown”.
Western Sydney Rail Alliance members, including Penrith Council, also want a north-south rail line from the 36km Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse Hill Station in the north, to Campbelltown in the south, to link the northwest and southwest growth areas.
WSROC and the alliance agree a rail line is needed in the Western Sydney Growth Corridor to reduce traffic congestion and commuting times to work.
Penrith Council wants a rail line that picks up at St Marys, the future $5 billion Sydney Science Park in Luddenham, Badgerys Creek airport, and the Werrington and Campbelltown universities.
Pictured is the Western Sydney Corridor draft concept, supplied by the Western Sydney Rail Alliance.Councillor Ross Fowler said the rail link would “be the best thing that is going to happen to this city in the next 20 to 30 years”, adding it would bring employment and lifestyle opportunities to the region.
Councillor Greg Davies said the proposed connection would be of “massive benefit” to Penrith.
Western Sydney University’s assistant vice-chancellor (strategy and projects), Dr Andy Marks, said the university’s preference is for the rail alignment to include its Werrington South and North campuses, with a stop at the Werrington South campus.
“This will enable us to open up to the public a range of exciting university initiatives, like our LaunchPad start-up incubator, planned science centre, and state-of-the-art science, computing and engineering facilities,” Dr Marks said.
Stephen Bali at Blacktown Civic Centre in 2014 arguing against the airport proposal.
An aerial photo of the site of the future Badgerys Creek airport. Picture: Jonathan NgLatest figures commissioned by the alliance suggest construction of a north-south rail has the potential to create 89,000 new dwellings and 84,000 jobs in western Sydney.
Its ‘A Network of Opportunity: Western Rail’ report, by Arup, notes that a rail link would also enable “consolidated renewal efforts” in disadvantaged areas, such as Willmot, Bidwill, Mt Druitt and Blackett, by improving access to employment and education opportunities.
“Rail will allow for the up-zoning, redevelopment and intensification of higher uses around Werrington, St Marys and Dunheved employment areas, providing new job opportunities to low employment rate suburbs in the area,” states the report, by Arup.
“A rail connection to Sydney Science Park would allow for an increase from 3400 to at least 20,000 dwellings and from 12,000 to as many as 50,000 jobs in the precinct.”
Alliance chairman Christopher Brown has previously said the alliance would “pay for a big chunk of the train line through development levies”.
Cr Bali argues it should be up to the government to pay for it in its entirety.
Three rail lines — two new — between St Marys and the future Badgerys Creek airport were last year flagged in the joint NSW/Federal Government scoping study of the rail needs for western Sydney.
Among the six options considered is a new north-south airport rail link between Macarthur and Schofields via St Marys and the Penrith Education and Health precinct.
It would take 55 minutes on the fastest train to get from the airport to Sydney CBD on this line, and 35 minutes to get to Parramatta.
“What we need is hard investment in infrastructure and that includes Penrith Council’s position on the north-south rail,” said Mark Greenhill, the mayor of Blue Mountains Council which has staunchly opposed an airport at Badgerys Creek from the get-go.
“The trip to work would be made easier if every third week a Blue Mountains line train didn’t break down.”
Over 40 Residents Against Western Sydney Airport (RAWSA) action group members visited Glenbrook National Park on Saturday to tell tourists of the environmental threats posed by an airport at Badgerys Creek. They were joined by Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill. Picture: Justin SansonA development application and environmental impact statement is also being prepared for the construction and operation of a Western Sydney Inland Container Terminal Facility at St Marys, to move containers to and from Port Botany via freight rail.
The 2015 draft EIS for the airport found the road upgrades, under the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan, would adequately support anticipated airport demand for at least a decade after opening, and that the long-term operation of the airport requires a rail connection.
Meantime, Badgerys Creek residents have lost a legal bid to stay on land earmarked for the airport, although they met yet take their case to the High Court.
The Federal Court in March dismissed appeals by more than a dozen tenants, many of them long-term tenants, who were seeking to stop the Commonwealth taking possession of their leased properties.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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