PARRAMATTA City Council has reaffirmed its strong preference for a route from Westmead to Epping via Carlingford as the first stage of the proposed $1 billion Western Sydney Light Rail Network.
Last week, the council resolved unanimously to write to NSW Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Andrew Constance to discuss the roll out of the Light Rail Network, after reports the State Government is considering building the first stage of the project from Parramatta to Strathfield via Olympic Park.
In its letter, the council will urge the government to choose Westmead to Epping as the initial route for the network, arguing the corridor to Olympic Park would have insufficient patronage to make it financially viable.
Lord Mayor of Parramatta Scott Lloyd said building light rail from Westmead to Epping via Carlingford would provide a spine that will allow for the network's eventual expansion from Westmead to Castle Hill, Epping to Macquarie Park and Camellia to Olympic Park.
"A route from Westmead to Epping would provide the greatest chance for a successful Light Rail Network that can be expanded," Cr Lloyd said.
"The route would encompass key centres including the Westmead health precinct, Parramatta North urban renewal area, Parramatta Stadium, Parramatta CBD, the Camellia growth precinct and the CBD and Rydalmere campuses of the University of Western Sydney.
"A Light Rail Network from Westmead to Epping would have high passenger numbers taking in major residential and business centres as well as key education, health and community facilities.
"Council has had a long-standing vision for a Light Rail Network to improve the commute for residents, workers and visitors. We are delighted that the State Government has committed $1 billion to the project, and we want the first line to be a huge success.
"We have serious concerns that passenger numbers would not be sufficient to sustain the Strathfield via Olympic Park route as the first phase of the project, potentially jeopardising its expansion."
"For the network to expand we need the first stage to be a success and we believe a Westmead to Epping route would make the project financially viable."
Cr Lloyd said a Westmead to Epping route could use the existing heavy rail corridor on the Carlingford line and importantly could link in with the Sydney Metro Northwest rail at Epping, providing a much-needed public transport connection between Parramatta and Sydney's North West growth suburbs.
"We would welcome a link to Sydney Olympic Park as part of subsequent stages of the Light Rail Network, however, we don't believe the Camellia precinct is established enough at this stage to justify a line through there to Olympic Park," the Lord Mayor said.
Cr Lloyd said the journey from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park was already serviced by regular heavy rail and bus options.
"I look forward to meeting with the Government to discuss our preferred option for this important project and the time frames for the start and completion of works," he said.