The state government has announced its intention to preserve a corridor for a future extension of the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL), currently slated for completion in 2019. This would allow the government to build a transport line along this corridor at some point in the future without having to resort to expensive property acquisition or underground construction (as is the case with the $8 billion NWRL – its high price tag being one of the major challenges in its construction). Land would still need to be acquired at a future date, but it would be land that is zoned for future public infrastructure, and therefore much more affordable. Examples of recent transport infrastructure built on preserved corridors include the M2 and M7, whose corridors were set aside in 1944, about half a century prior to their completion.
A detailed discussion paper is available, which outlines the background and goes into some detail, however I found the 4 page newsletter to be far more useful and to the point (while also including some points omitted in the discussion paper).
There are currently 2 options being considered. One goes West, crossing the new Schofields Station and continuing on to Marsden Park, with potential future extension to the Western Line at Mount Druitt or Penrith. The other goes North West, connecting up with the Richmond Line at Riverston Station, then continuing North to Richmond. Both options extend the reach of the NWRL into the Northwest Growth Sector, which is expected to see 200,000 new residents in the coming 25 years or so.
Both options would link the NWRL to the Richmond Line. However, it should be noted that this link may not necessarily be a heavy rail link, and could instead be light rail or bus rapid transit (i.e. a T-Way). This is a good idea, as it would be silly to rule out any options now, given that any construction of transport infrastructure on such a corridor would probably be 50 years away and it would be impossible to predict the what the best option would be now.
Submissions on a preferred corridor can be made to Transport for NSW until 18 May 2012 at www.northwestoptions.com.au or by attending the public information session at Rouse Hill Town Centre on Saturday 31 March between 10AM and 2PM at the Vinegar Hill Memorial Community Centre, Level 1 (opposite the library).