A report by urban planner Rod Simpson and Deloitte examining the pros and cons of light rail lines along Sydney’s Olympic Corridor concludes that the development could foster a precinct with more homes and jobs than the Barangaroo, Bays Precinct, Central to Eveleigh and Green Square projects combined.

‘Restarting Sydney’s Heart – Light Rail the Engine of Change’ was commissioned by WestLine Partnership and focusses on the possibility of two light rail networks – one from Rosehill to Carlingford and the other from Westmead to Strathfield/Rhodes along the Olympic Corridor - expected to cost a minimum $1.1 billion.

It is one of four proposed light rail options as part of Stage 1 of the Western Sydney Light Rail Network, including three lines from Greater Parramatta; one to Macqaurie Park and others to Castle Hill and Bankstown.

WestLine spokesperson and Chair of the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue, Christopher Brown AM, said that the Simpson report indicated that the creation of two light rail lines – one from Rosehill to Carlingford and the other from Westmead to Strathfield/Rhodes along the Olympic Corridor, was cost-effective and would benefit Australia’s fastest growing regions (by 2036 more than 190,000 people are expected to be living in the Olympic Corridor).

“The report findings show that there is a strong argument for the route along the Olympic Corridor, which will stimulate the growth of more smart jobs, homes and development,” he said.

“This is not a case of one or the other; we feel that the people of Western Sydney deserve both this line and the other line to Carlingford. This report not only reaffirms that view, but also reveals that it could potentially be self-funded by the private sector.” 

The proposed light rail link from Westmead to Parramatta (above) and an artist impression of the rail in situ.

In a similar approach to the recent Homebush Bay Bridge development between Rhodes and Wentworth Point, the report proposes that the light rail line along the Olympic Corridor could be funded through a voluntary contribution model for the private sector which would see land owners along the light rail route given density uplift incentives to put money up for the project.

However, the report goes against the 2013 'Western Sydney Light Rail Feasibility Study' by Parramatta City Council and Hassell architects, which found that the lines to Macquarie Park and Castle Hill from Parramatta are the best options for Stage 1 development, with the Macquarie Park line the number one priority.

KEY FINDINGS from Restarting Sydney’s Heart –Light Rail the Engine of Change 

What a light rail line along the Olympic Corridor will deliver: 

  • More potential jobs and new dwellings than the Barangaroo, Bays Precinct, Green Square and Central to Eveleigh projects combined. 
  • Through private sector support, the potential for two Western Sydney Light Rail lines to be built for one cost. 
  • Conservative estimate of $1.1b in project funding for light rail and remediation via voluntary developer levies through the precinct 
  • Almost 20% of required infill and a third of all new jobs in Western Sydney by 2036. 
  • The capacity to move 5,000 passengers per hour in both directions through the Corridor. The equivalent to 40 light rail services in place of 200 buses. 
  • Possible relocation of the Sydney Produce Markets at Flemington to a new home at Badgerys Creek to boost outer Western Sydney employment, reduce Parramatta Road congestion and free up the 42 hectare site for residential development 
  • Halve the current travel time between Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park. 
  • Significant and sustainable ‘smart jobs of the future’ to Western Sydney and attract global investment to the region. 

WestLine Partnership members include ANZ Stadium, Australian Turf Club, Goodman Group, GPT Group, NRMA, Accor, Royal Agricultural Society of NSW, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Sydney Business Chamber, City of Canada Bay, Auburn Council.

Images: The Daily Telegraph.