Frustrated by a lack of federal and state government action, one local council has taken matters into its own hands in order to advance the proposed construction of a light rail service in the western suburbs of Sydney.
Speaking at the Parramatta Economic Development Forum at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday, Parramatta Lord Mayor Councillor Lorraine Wearne says the Parramatta City Council will allocate $1 million toward a feasibility study for the Western Sydney Light Rail Project.
Lashing out at state and federal governments, Wearne says councils and local residents are sick of empty talk about transport matters.
She says that although transport issues are usually the responsibility of state and federal governments, Council has decided to take a lead role for the region.
“There’s always plenty of talk about transport matters – whether it’s the congestion on Parramatta or Victoria roads – or lack of efficiency and service – on our public transport networks, but unfortunately there’s not enough action” Wearne says.
“We want to change this. This is a project that Council believes in, and we feel, will go a long way towards relieving congestion, providing strong regional connections across Western Sydney and will also integrate with existing transport infrastructure such as heavy rail”.
Planned to be segregated from existing road and train networks, with virtually no sharing of road space, the new project will improve regional connections across Western Sydney, Council says. Such connections include Castle Hill, Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown and Sydney Olympic Park.
Council also says the proposed network will improve access to employment in Westmead, Parramatta city centre, Macquarie Park and have links to the University of Western Sydney and Macquarie University.
In a statement, the Council says the $1 million it has committed will be allocated toward a number of initiatives to realise the light rail project – most significantly a feasibility study, the successful tenderer with regard to which is to be selected in July.
Wearne is calling on federal and state governments to get behind the light rail project.
“We’ve made a commitment to get this proposal up and running, and we’ll be calling on our Federal and State leaders to also get behind it and help provide solutions and the funds that will support the future growth of our City and our region” she says.
Wearne’s frustration comes amid uncertainty over the funding of major road upgrades in New South Wales following a row between the state and federal government over funding.
It also comes amid anticipated pressure on infrastructure budgets over coming years due to fiscal constraints – which could see local councils and municipalities competing more fiercely for a tighter pool of project funding.