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The second stage of the Parramatta light rail has been revived after months of speculation over its future, with the NSW government set to allocate $50 million to the project in next week’s state budget.
The government commitment to the second stage, which will link Camellia and Sydney Olympic Park via Wentworth Point, comes seven months after NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance indicated he was considering a trackless tram option for the route.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance with Treasurer Dominic Perrottet.CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY
Stage one of the Parramatta light rail is set to open in 2023 at a cost of $2.4billion. NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the new money would be spent on stage two planning, geotechnical work and an environmental impact statement.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the tender process for the next stage would begin ahead of the opening of stage one, and estimated the price would reach into the billions.
“We will want to keep rolling into the next stage, absolutely. It’s a project in the billions, not the tens or hundreds of millions,” Mr Constance said.
Mr Constance said it had been decided that the trackless tram - or articulated bus - option was not the right one to service the area.
“The long articulated buses, whilst happening elsewhere around the world, we feel it’s too much in its preliminary phase so we’re getting on with this. We also need to be sensitive to market capacity because we’ve got a lot on,” he said.
He said it was important that Wentworth Point was serviced by a dedicated transport service, given the high density apartment living of the area.
“Again here we have to retrofit transport for bad planning decisions,” he said.
In November last year, Mr Constance said he would be “a mug” for not investigating less invasive and potentially more economical ways to service the region without laying tracks, and pointed out that trackless tram technology was unavailable when the government committed to stage one.
The government’s announcement on stage two comes ahead of a parliamentary inquiry scrutinising its land acquisition processes on Tuesday.
The NSW Parliament inquiry was set up after the Herald revealed the government had paid three times as much as the Valuer-General’s estimate for a parcel of highly contaminated land near Parramatta for a light rail stabling yard.
Newly minted TfNSW secretary Rob Sharp is expected to front the inquiry.
Opposition leader Chris Minns said the government needed to explain how the second stage of Parramatta Light Rail could appear in next week’s state budget after being excluded in the 2020 papers.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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