Project Spotlight: Parramatta Light Rail

Parramatta Light Rail

Light Rail, new south wales, NSW, Parramatta Light Rail, sydney,

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The Parramatta Light Rail is a significant transportation infrastructure project being delivered in Sydney, with 30 accessible stops and 22km of new light rail track.

About the Parramatta Light Rail project

The Parramatta Light Rail is a major transportation infrastructure project in Sydney, New South Wales. It involves the construction of a new light rail system to support the growth and development of New South Wales.

Parramatta Light Rail is split into two stages. The first stage of the Parramatta Light Rail will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia. This project is part of a $2.875 billion program, with a two-way track spanning 12km and 16 stops in total.

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will be connected from Stage 1 to Camellia, Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point, and Sydney Olympic Park. Though $602.4m have been confirmed to commence the enabling works for Stage 2, the overall cost will be confirmed once contracts have been signed.

What is a light rail?

Light rail is a public transportation system that connects people to where they need to go. It is a modern, air-conditioned, and driver-operated vehicle that travels along a dedicated track. They are powered by a combination of electricity from roof-mounted rechargeable batteries for wire-free operation.

Light rail is generally a quiet transport, energy efficient, environmentally friendly, reduces road and traffic congestion, provides a regular ‘turn up and go’ service, and can carry numerous passengers at any time.

This light rail can carry up to 300 people, equivalent to around six buses. This 45m light rail vehicle reduces traffic congestion and creates a more sustainable design.

Overall, the Parramatta Light Rail project represents a significant investment in NSW’s public transport infrastructure, aiming to transform how people travel in the region and contribute to more sustainable growth and development.

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 and Stage 2 route

What are the benefits and features of the Parramatta Light Rail?

The Parramatta Light Rail project is expected to bring numerous benefits to the surrounding communities of New South Wales. This includes improved public transport options, reduced travel times, revitalisation of urban areas along the route, increased accessibility to destinations, and economic stimulus through job and investment opportunities.

Key features for the Parramatta Light Rail project include:

  • 16 accessible stops
  • Regular services from early morning to late at night, including every 7.5 minutes from 7am to 7pm on weekdays
  • Integrated New South Wales Opal card ticketing
  • Modern and comfortable air-conditioned vehicles that can carry up to 400 passengers
  • Shared light rail and pedestrian zones on Church and Macquarie streets in the Parramatta CBD
  • A new shared walking and bike-riding path, also known as the Active Transport Link, between Carlingford and Parramatta
  • New South Wales’ first state-of-the-art green track, providing urban cooling and greener place-making

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1: Westmead to Carlingford

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia. The two-way track spans 12 kilometres and will connect passengers to areas currently being transformed by the New South Wales Government and private investments.

The Parramatta Light Rail project in New South Wales is part of the $2.875 billion program. The budget involves two contracts to build and operate the light rail, road and traffic upgrades, new bridges, remediation works of the future light rail depot site, urban design, walking and bike riding paths, and changes to the public transport network.

The global leader in light rail vehicle design, CAF manufactured the vehicles used for the Parramatta Light Rail project. It will feature ‘Urbos 3 vehicles, which have been upgraded to incorporate an evolved design based on worldwide fleet performance. These technological and sustainable vehicles will provide an accessible and comfortable customer experience, with real-time travel information such as updates or delays.

Attractions along the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 route

Certain areas are being redeveloped along the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 route. This includes the Cumberland Precinct, Westmead Health Precinct, Camellia Town Centre, Telopea Precinct, the redeveloped Arthur Phillip High School, and the Western Sydney University campuses at Parramatta, Westmead, and Rydalmere.

The Parramatta Light Rail is conveniently located near several popular attractions and key destinations in the Parramatta region. It will connect passengers to major attractions such as restaurants on Church Street, Riverside Theatres, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, the NSW Powerhouse Parramatta, CommBank Stadium, and the vibrant Parramatta Square. With its strategic connections and proximity to these attractions, the Parramatta Light Rail enhances accessibility and convenience for residents, commuters, and visitors.

Key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1

The key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 collectively aim to enhance public transport accessibility, support sustainable urban development, and improve the overall transportation experience for all individuals in the Parramatta area. Below are a few key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1.

  • 16 accessible stops
  • Regular services from morning to night everyday, including services every 7.5mins from 7am to 7pm on weekdays
  • Integrated New South Wales Opal card ticketing
  • Modern and comfortable temperature-controlled vehicles
  • Carry up to 300 passengers

Construction works for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1

Construction works for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 are almost complete, as all tracks have been installed. There are significant works on roading, kerbing, footpath and landscaping work, and gutters across all construction sites. Moreover, construction on the Stabling and Maintenance facility at Camellia has begun.

The second phase of work has also begun on constructing the remaining operational assets. These works will involve the installation of light rail stop canopies and infrastructures, wiring, power substations, and underground cabling.

Westmead

Westmead is one of Australia’s largest healthcare, education, and research institutions. This station plays a crucial role in Stage 1 of the Parramatta Light Rail project, connecting healthcare professionals, educators, students, residents, and visitors to the Westmead precinct.

The Westmead station will offer enhanced accessibility, convenience, and integration with the broader transport network. This includes ramps, elevators, and indicators for passengers with disability or mobility challenges. Overall, the station contributes to the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 public transportation and supports the growth and development of the regions along the light rail.

Westmead Hospital Light Rail Station

High-frequency services will connect Westmeader’s critical health and education institutions seven days a week until late.

To enable the construction of the Westmead station for Parramatta Light Rail, Westmead’s Hawkesbury Road between Darcy Road and Jessie Street has been widened.

Key features of the Parramatta Light Rail Westmead stop

  • Frequent ‘turn up and go’ services
  • Better connections between Carlingford, Parramatta CBD, and the Westmead Health Precinct
  • Operate 7 days a week, from 5am until 1am
  • Services every 7.5mins from 7am to 7pm on weekdays
  • Easily connected to bus and train services from Westmead Health Precinct
  • Stops at major destinations within the Westmead area, including the Children’s Hospital and Westmead Terminus

Parramatta North

Parramatta North is a significant light rail station for the Parramatta Light Rail project. It is located on the northern section of the route and provides convenient access to popular and important destinations. This stop will better connect the Westmead Health precinct, Parramatta North and the CommBank Stadium.

Parramatta North Station seamlessly integrates with the broader transport network, facilitating easy transfers to other modes of transportation, such as buses and trains. The station’s strategic location improves public transport options, reduces congestion, and promotes sustainable mobility in the Parramatta area.

Key features of the Parramatta Light Rail Parramatta North stop

  • Better connections to the Westmead Health Precinct, Parramatta North and CommBank Stadium. Additional light rail services will be in place for special events at the Stadium.
  • Modern and comfortable air-conditioned vehicles carrying up to 300 customers each, the equivalent of around six buses.
  • Parramatta Light Rail stops will be located in Cumberland East and along Church Street, at Factory Street and Fennell Street.
  • Operate 7 days a week, from 5am until 1am
  • Services every 7.5mins from 7am to 7pm on weekdays

Parramatta CBD

The Parramatta Light Rail will travel from Prince Alfred Square along Church Street to Macquarie Street. This route will continue past Centenary Square, Parramatta Square, and the Western Sydney University Campus along Robin Thomas Reserve.

Situated in the heart of Parramatta’s Central Business District (CBD), this Parramatta CBD light rail station will serve as a major transport hub, providing convenient access to commercial centres, shopping precincts, dining establishments, and entertainment venues. It also provides access to the Parramatta Train Station, bus services, and future underground stations within the Parramatta Square precinct.

A vibrant and dynamic precinct will surround the Parramatta CBD light rail station. It provides easy access to Parramatta’s commercial and business centres, including corporate offices, government buildings, educational institutions, and cultural landmarks such as the Riverside Theatres and Parramatta Park.

Recently, ‘enabling works’ have been completed to upgrade and improve the broader road and traffic network system.

Key features of the Parramatta Light Rail Parramatta CBD stop

  • Two shared light rail and pedestrian zones along Macquarie and Church Street to create a pedestrian friendly entertainment and restaurant
  • Light rail stops at Prince Alfred Square, Church Street between George and Macquarie Streets, and along Macquarie Street at Parramatta Square and near Harris Street
  • Operate 7 days a week, from 5am until 1am
  • Services every 7.5mins from 7am to 7pm on weekdays
  • Improved access to Parramatta’s dining and entertainment area, and Church Street

Micro-tunnelling for Parramatta CBD

Micro-tunnelling machines were used to help minimise construction impacts compared to older pipeline construction methods. Microtunnelling is a method of constructing underground tunnels by using a remotely controlled boring machine. It is similar but a smaller tunnel-boring machine of 1.5m long in diameter.

The machines were used to reduce the chances of impacting other surrounding pipes, electrical wires and utilities and minimise noise, vibration and dust on Church Street in Parramatta CBD.

By using the micro-tunnelling method, it reduces road and footpath excavations, minimises the impact of construction through built-up environments, leads to smaller construction sites compared to trenching Church Street then laying down a new pipe, makes it a quicker and safer method, and has minimal impacts on the community.

Carlingford to Camellia

Parramatta Light Rail will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia. It will stop at Telopea, Rydalmere, and Dundas. Transport for NSW will also construct a “kiss and ride” facility at Carlingford, a transport link, and improved pedestrian access for this route.

A new bridge over James Ruse Drive has been constructed, and the level crossing at Parramatta Road has been removed to improve the overall traffic flow.

Key features of the Parramatta Light Rail Parramatta CBD stop

  • Modern and comfortable temperature-controlled vehicles
  • New light rail to and from Carlingford to run on dual tracks, enabling simultaneous travel
  • Passengers travelling to the Sydney CBD can change at the Parramatta Interchange and access express trains
  • New pedestrian link from the Camellia light rail stop to the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse to maintain access
  • 5000 new jobs and 10,000 will be created as it will integrate with the future Camellia Town Centre
  • Additional light rail services will be scheduled during major events
  • Improved and regular access to public transport for recreational destinations and community facilities, including Rosehill Gardens Racecourse and CommBank Stadium in Sydney

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2: Parramatta CBD to Sydney Olympic Park

Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will be connected from Stage 1 to Camellia, Ermington, Melrose Park, Wentworth Point, and Sydney Olympic Park. This will link to transport infrastructure, including ferry services, buses, heavy rail, and the future Sydney Metro West project. There are 14 fully accessible stops over 10km of the new light rail track.

Currently, options are being explored to use locally manufactured companies for the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 project vehicles. Though the specifications and vehicle type will be determined during the procurement phase, all light rail vehicles will comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).

The New South Wales Government has committed $602.4m to commence the enabling works for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2. The cost will be confirmed once contracts have been signed to plan, design, build, operate and maintain the light rail network in Sydney.

Attractions along the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2

There are numerous attractions along Parramatta CBD to Sydney Olympic Park. Some include the Accor Stadium, Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park events, Sydney Showgrounds, the annual Sydney Royal Easter show, and the future URBNSURF development.

Key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2

The key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will increase accessibility, support sustainable overall development, and improve the overall transportation experience for all individuals. Below are the main key features of Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2.

  • 10km of light rail track extended from Parramatta Light Rail Stage 1 to Sydney Olympic Park
  • 14 accessible stops
  • ‘Turn up and go’ services seven days a week from 5am to 1am
  • Services come every 7.5 minutes between 7am to 7pm on weekdays
  • Takes only 31 minutes from Carter Street precinct to Camellia via Sydney Olympic Park, and approximately 7 minutes to the Parramatta CBD
  • Shared light rail and pedestrian zone along Dawn Fraser Avenue in Sydney Olympic Park
  • New light rail and active transport bridges
  • 8.5km active walking and bike-riding path that will run parallel to the light rail corridor and link to the existing network

Construction works for Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2

Construction works will officially begin in 2024. The planning and development phase is continuing, including utilities and geotechnical investigations.

A procurement process is now underway, as the New South Wales Government has invited leading infrastructure organisations to help shape and build Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2. All shortlisted industry organisations have also been invited to participate in the Expression of Interest (EOI) process for the enabling works package. In late 2024, a Request for Tender process will be made for the following procurement phase.

Calls for industry leaders to deliver Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2

Works on Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 will proceed with the detailed planning stage. Manufacturing for light rail vehicles and associated equipment in Australia is being investigated and planned for Stage 2.

Parramatta Light Rail Green Track

The Parramatta Light Rail will be the first rail in New South Wales to have ‘green tracks’. This is used for the Westmead to Carlingford light rail station via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia. Services for this will commence once the entire Parramatta Light Rail project commences in 2024.

A ‘green track’ is a state-of-the-art light rail design that features grass and vegetation between and along the tracks. This space is generally filled with asphalt, concrete or ballast. Using a green track will improve urban climate, minimise noise and glare, produce oxygen and filter dust in the air, enhance the natural habitat, improve biodiversity, filter stormwater and regulates drainage, and seamlessly integrate into urban landscapes.

1.3km of green track will be featured across three Parramatta Light Rail alignment sections, including the Robin Thomas Reserve, Cumberland Precinct, and Tramway Avenue in Parramatta.

The project was recognised as a leader in sustainable infrastructure after achieving a leading ISC rating for our design in 2021.

Parramatta Light Rail infrastructure works package achieves record-breaking ‘As-Built’ rating

Stage 1 of the Parramatta Light Rail project in New South Wales will officially open to the public in 2024. The Parramatta Light Rail will bring improved connectivity, reduced congestion, and enhanced urban development, revolutionising transportation in the Sydney region for a more sustainable future.

Source: © Transport for NSW

Image sources: © Transport for NSW

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