16 May 2012 – Parramatta Lord Mayor, Lorraine Wearne today (Wednesday) announced a feasibility study into a western Sydney light rail network with tenders expected to be selected in July.

Ms Wearne, speaking at the Parramatta Economic Development Forum at the Sydney Opera House, said that although transport issues were usually the responsibility of the state and federal governments, Parramatta City Council was taking a lead role for the region by funding the first stage of the plan with up to $1million.

The forum was integral to an event, Re-thinking Sydney, organised by Parramatta City Council to  discuss why it believes Parramatta and Western Sydney are the key to Sydney’s future and the engine room of the NSW economy.

The council’s bases its belief on the fact that of the seven million people living in the city by 2050 four million will be centred around Parramatta and western Sydney. “If we continue to put the jobs in the east and the people in the west, we are dooming future generations to transport gridlock,” is its methodology.

Ms Wearne, commenting on the light rail plan said: “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 integrating with existing transport infrastructure such as heavy rail.”

The western Sydney network would be separated from the existing road and train networks, with virtually no sharing of road space, she said. It would improve access to employment in Westmead, Parramatta city centre, Macquarie Park and have links to the University of Western Sydney and Macquarie University.

It also aims to improve regional connections across western Sydney, including Castle Hill, Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown and Sydney Olympic Park.

The growth of western Sydney dominated comments sought by Parramatta City Council on the plan.

Brendan Lyon, chief executive officer, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia:

“The key challenge facing Sydney is how it accommodates its growth challenge, and how it re-engineers the fabric of its infrastructure networks to leverage the growth to develop a better, more liveable and more functional city.

“An essential component must be making the right decisions to shift economic hubs away from the existing CBD and using economic centres like Parramatta to drive economic growth. Things like Metro rail, the M4 East extension and the densification between and across global arc in Western Sydney must be the centrepiece.”

Kerry Bartlett, chief executive officer, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils:

“Western Sydney’s potential is extraordinary. The vitality and capacity of its people, if properly tapped, will profoundly affect Sydney’s economic and cultural landscape for generations to come.”

Professor Peter Shergold, Chancellor University of Western Sydney

“Educational opportunity is the key with which to unlock the economic, social and cultural development of Greater Western Sydney. The region needs people who are trained and educated if the full potential of growth is to be realised.”

Christopher Brown, chairman Parramatta Economic Development.

“The growth of this region requires a grand partnership between federal, state and local government plus the private sector to deliver infrastructure and services to support its rapid expansion.”

Glenn Byres, executive director, NSW Property Council of Australia

“Parramatta is located in the centre of growth, flanked by Westmead, the largest bio- medical precinct in the southern hemisphere, and the University of Western Sydney, one of the fastest growing educational precincts.”

“Parramatta is already home to a strong commercial office market and investors will be eyeing off the next wave of opportunities.”

Dr Tim Williams, Committee of Sydney

“The Committee for Sydney has a greater Sydney perspective, which advocates the continued success of the existing CBD, but also for new economic space to be found for Sydney to ensure Sydney stays competitive.”