Will the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link be built any time soon?

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Transport
Tags: , , , , , ,

The short answer is no. Unless you consider 2036 to be soon.

The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link (PERL) was planned to be built by the previous Keneally Labor government and had obtained a $2.1 billion funding commitment from the Commonwealth Labor government to get it built. This was promised during the 2010 federal election campaign and seen as a porkbarelling exercise to get more Labor MPs elected from Western Sydney, which would benefit from this new line. The state Liberal opposition, under Barry O’Farrell, instead promised to build the Northwest Rail Link (PERL) and to defer the PERL.

O’Farrell beat Keneally, and this resulted in a deadlock between the NSW and Commonwealth governments, each having promised to fund or build one line and not the other. O’Farrell argues that the NWRL is more critical and wants the $2.1 billion of funding transferred from the PERL to the NWRL, but has declared that he will build it whether he gets the money or not. If no agreement is reached, then everyone loses.

Personally, I think the only was to get a solution here is to form some sort of compromise. Something that links Parramatta to Macquarie Park (which is what the PERL is designed to do) would do this, thus allowing the Commonwealth Government to be satisfied that its election promise has been satisfied, albeit with a non-heavy rail solution, while allowing the NSW government to focus on the NWRL.

BusNSW have put forward one option that would do this – a bus only transitway (like the current T-Ways between Parramatta and Rouse Hill/Liverpool) between Parramatta and Macquarie Park. The advantage of this option is the low cost: $250 milion, compared to a revised $4.4 billion cost of the PERL. Note: News story in video below starts at 0:20 seconds.

Parramatta Council have also offered proposals. Their first was a re-routing of the NWRL via Parramatta and then along the PERL alignment. This proposal was unworkable as it would delay trips between the Northwest and Macquarie Park/Chatswood/St Leonards/North Sydney, while also relying on an already strained Parramatta-CBD rail corridor to transport commuters into the city. As there was also good transport links between Parramatta and the Northwest via the existing T-Way, the NSW government rejected this proposal. I personally agree with the state government in this case.

More recently, Parramatta Council proposed building light rail instead of heavy rail in order to connect Parramatta to major centres in Western Sydney, including Macquarie Park.

Ultimately, I am not as fussed about the mode of transport chosen as much as I am about the willingness of the different parties to negotiate and come to an agreement on this issue. On that basis, I think Parramatta Council is onto a winner with its strategy. The same cannot be said of the NSW or Commonwealth governments, who up until now have not budged from their positions and have not showed any hints of accepting a compromise outcome.

  1. […] to Sydney’s transport problems. I’ve previously written about how light rail or bus transit ways have been suggested as a way to create a short term connection between Parramatta and […]

  2. […] have previously raised the option of a circuit breaker (here and here) like this as a way of ending the impasse on this issue, and while I think it’s less […]

  3. […] reality is not quite as simple. Mr Robertson is using outdated figures, as the $2.6bn cost for the PERL has since blown out to $4.4bn. This means that the state government’s contribution wouldn’t be the affordable $520m […]

  4. […] What happened to the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link? Previous reports suggested that this had been deferred to 2036, but would still eventually be built. This new announcement makes no mention of the PERL. Perhaps it has been abandoned altogether due to the high price of a Second Harbour Crossing (costed at $10bn by industry experts). If it has, then will there be an alternative transport connection built to connect Parramatta to Macquarie Park (such as light rail or bus rapid transit). […]

  5. […] BRT or light rail could be a sufficient solution to the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link corridor (here and here), given that heavy rail appears to have dropped off the radar. In this case, I am going to […]

  6. […] to fund the remainder, which was then estimated at a mere $500m. Problems soon emerged, with the cost estimated blowing out from $2.6bn to $4.4bn, meaning the NSW contribution would now be a far less affordable $2.3bn, and a change in government […]

  7. […] of how to improve Perth’s transport network. In that regard, it is quite similar to the now abandoned Parramatta to Epping Rail Link (PERL) in NSW. Here you had a line which was supported for political reasons, rather than because […]

  8. […] some new transport line in Western Sydney, be it re-routing the NWRL via Parramatta, building the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, or the creation of a Western Sydney Light Rail network. If resources were unlimited, then […]

  9. […] main advantage of the light rail option is the cost, coming in at $919m versus $4.4bn which was the most recent figure available for the PERL. (This works out to $54m/km, compared to $31m/km for the Dulwich Hill light rail extension or […]

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