The NSW government yesterday announced the final route for the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL). This follows many months of community consultation, feedback and design changes. (For part one, go here.)
Key changes include:
An additional two stations. This was hinted at earlier this year. The two stations will be at Cudgegong Road and Kellyville. The Kellyville Station is actually the previously proposed Samantha Riley Drive Station, with the previously touted Kellyville Station moved further South and renamed Bella Vista. The Bella Vista Station is on the Western end of Norwest Business Park, doubling the number of stations at Norwest. Two stations at Norwest was also hinted at earlier this year, and I spoke in its favour. Despite some calls for it, the line will not be extended through Schofields and into Marsden Park, at least not yet.
A “skytrain” (viaduct). The line between Bella Vista and Rouse Hill will be on a 4km long elevated viaduct, which has been dubbed a skytrain by Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian. This was previously to be party in an open air cutting underground and partly in a viaduct above ground. Either opens would allow roads to cross the rail line without the need for level crossings. The viaduct option was cheaper, but has seen some criticism for being more of an eyesore than a cutting.
1,000 extra parking spaces, bringing the total number of park and ride spaces to 4,000.
To give you some context, there are 47,000 residents within a 1km catchment area of the 8 new stations and the government expects this to take 160 city bound M2 buses off the road, a 67% reduction or 2.5km if they were lined up on the road. 29 million people are predicted to use the NWRL per year within 5 years of its opening. The Northwest Growth Centre, which the NWRL partly travels through, is expected to see 200,000 additional residents in the next 30 years.
The cost has increased from $7 billion up to between $7.5 billion and $8.5 billion. This appears to be due to the addition of 2 stations, one of which will require the demolition of a shopping centre, and 1,000 parking spaces. Construction is expected to begin in 2014 and take 5 to 6 years, suggesting a completion date of 2019 or 2020.
Interestingly, the NSW government’s submission to Infrastructure Australia for the NWRL included only the original 6 stations and not Cudgegong or Bella Vista, nor the revised Kellyville Station. Don’t be surprised if the federal government rejects the submission on a technicality as it differs from the final version, just as they ruled out providing funding for the NWRL earlier because no submission had been lodged.
The government has not ruled out a privately built and run line, so long as there are no additional ticket costs like at the airport stations, that the line be integrated with the Cityrail network and be run with double deck trains.