THE future of stage 2 of Sydney’s Parramatta light rail project is assured after the New South Wales state government committed $A 50m ($US 37.8m) for planning and development works for the project in the state’s 2021-22 budget, which will be announced next week.

The second stage of the project involves constructing a 12km double-track line, connecting Stage 1 and the Parramatta city centre with Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point and Sydney Olympic Park.

The government’s commitment comes just seven months after NSW transport minister, Mr Andrew Constance, indicated he was considering a trackless tram or articulated bus option for the route, a proposition he has now rejected.

“This money will go towards planning, utilities and geotechnical investigations,” says state treasurer, Mr Dominic Perrottet. “It will also progress the development of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement.”

Constance says the $A 50m would ensure the project was shovel ready. “This area is growing at an exponential rate and requires infrastructure that is smart, futureproof and will offer the community a variety of transport choices,” he says. “It is important we get the next steps right so this project complements city-shaping projects like Sydney Metro West.”

When completed, stages 1 and 2 of the light rail line will provide links with Sydney Metro West at Parramatta, Westmead and Sydney Olympic Park, and the existing rail network at Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park as well as ferries at Parramatta, Rydalmere, and Wentworth Point.

Stage 1 of the project is set to open in 2023 at a cost of $A 2.4bn. By 2026, it is estimated that around 28,000 people will use the line daily with an estimated 130,000 people living within walking distance of light rail stops.

For detailed data on light rail projects around the world, subscribe to IRJ Pro.