Parramatta to Epping Metro: Time for action

No more lame excuses.

The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian must commit to starting work on the Metro to Parramatta (via Epping) this year while the Epping to Chatswood line is shut down for 7 months.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that work on the Metro Northwest line between Rouse Hill and Epping is now running to schedule and the new Metro line should be open in the first half of 2019.

Northwest Metro

The Premier Gladys Berejiklian celebrated on Sunday with an photo-op involving large spanners,  plenty of Hi-Vis and the announcement that the project would be delivered at least $500M under budget.

During the festivities Ms Berejiklian was reported as stating

“..Ms Berejiklian said reining in costs had allowed savings that would be used for the rest of the $20 billion-plus Sydney Metro project…”

All that is now required is an announcement by Premier Gladys Berejiklian that the Sydney Metro project will now include an extension from Epping to Parramatta along the alignment in the original plans for a Chatswood to Parramatta heavy rail connection.


A Parramatta to Epping Metro line

A recent Glass Pyramid exclusive discussed the proposed Parramatta Light Rail “White Elephant” that goes nowhere, will cause enormous disruption and has a budget that has already exploded to $3.5 Billion.

That article noted that the worst part of the Parramatta Light Rail proposal was that it involved converting the heavy rail line between Carlingford and Clyde to light rail rather than a serious fast high capacity rail connection between Parramatta and Epping.

By turning the existing heavy rail corridor into a “toy train” light rail that terminated at Carlingford the Liberal Government would be effectively destroying the potential for a fast high capacity connection between the Western suburbs and the city via Chatswood and the lower North Shore.

The red line shows the Carlingford to Rosehill section of the Carlingford-Clyde line.   The Green lines show the short new tunnels that would be required to complete the Parramatta to Epping Metro connection.


An alternative high capacity route to the city via the North Shore was the original idea when the Chatswood to Epping line was built.

It would allow Western Sydney to travel to the North Shore without travelling through the congested Sydney CBD section of the network.

Arguments in favour of extending the Sydney Metro to Parramatta via Epping

  1. A fast high capacity rail connection between Parramatta and the City via Chatswood is needed right now – The trains on the T1 Western line to the city are already clogged (even with the new timetable) and anyone crossing the bridge to the North Shore by rail during the morning peak hours can see that many people are only travelling through the city because they have no other alternative.   The pressure on the Western Line would be massively reduced if those people travelling to North Sydney and the North Shore could do so on a rail connection via Epping and Chatswood.
  2. Work is already underway – Because the original plan was for the Chatswood to Epping line to continue to Parramatta, short stub tunnels were constructed at Epping during construction to allow work to start and be largely completed without disruption of services on the Chatswood to Epping section.   Work in these stub tunnels and at Carlingford station can commence immediately.
  3. Perfect opportunity to start work at Epping – The forthcoming 7 month shutdown of the Chatswood to Epping rail line to convert it for Metro operations is a perfect opportunity to do any works required to create an intersection between the new Metro North West and the existing stub tunnels heading towards Parramatta.   An Epping connection to Parramatta could be made ready while the line is in shutdown.  This will reduce the need for any future shutdowns to complete the Parramatta to Epping Metro.
  4. Make the Sydney Metro more useful?  The Sydney Metro is designed to be automated with frequent services and short dwell times.  Future Metro trains leaving from Epping station could then be directed either to the Northwest or to Parramatta.  Likewise Metro trains from Parramatta and the Northwest would merge at Epping and then travel along the existing Epping to Chatswood line.  Branching the line at Epping will ensure its potential is used sooner rather than later.
  5. Would make Parramatta a serious 2nd CBD for Sydney – If a fast Metro connection between Parramatta, Epping and Chatswood was completed it would go a long way to establishing Parramatta as a serious second CBD in Sydney.  Parramatta would now have a fast connection to the main north heavy rail line that runs to the Central Coast, a connection to the Metro NorthWest, a connection to Chatswood and North Sydney, a connection to University of Western Sydney, Macquarie University/Shopping Centre and the “North Ryde” Silicon Valley.   For many people in the North West, Northern Sydney and the Central Coast, Parramatta would now be a much easier and less congested CBD to access and commute to.
  6. $500M should make a large dent in the project – Because much of the route of a Metro between Epping and Parramatta already exists in the form of the Carlingford to Clyde heavy rail line, completing a Metro to Parramatta should be relatively inexpensive.  The only tunnelling required is the short section between Carlingford an Epping and another short section to connect Rosehill station to Parramatta.   $500M should be more than enough to prepare the connection at Epping and make a serious dent in (if not complete) the tunnelling works between Carlingford and Epping.  The savings made on the NorthWest Metro construction would go a long way to completing a connection between Epping and Parramatta
  7. Faster and cheaper than the Metro West proposal – Currently Premier Gladys is proposing to build a new Metro line from the Sydney CBD through to Westmead.   This line would involve tunnels almost the entire 20 Km length of the proposed route.  Apart from being hideously expensive it will be hideously slow to build.  Gladys reckons 2030 is the likely date services will be operating. By contrast building a Parramatta to Epping Metro connection will deliver at relatively low cost and in months/years, a fast alternative route to the North Shore and the Sydney CBD for tens of thousands of Western Sydney residents.   By all means build a Metro West but the pressure to do so will be greatly reduced by building the Parramatta to Epping Metro first.
  8. Plenty of potential for extending West / South West – Once the Parramatta/Epping Metro connection is completed planning can start on extending the line to the West or South West.  By doing so another transport spoke with Parramatta at the centre can be created.
  9. They can still do Parramatta Light Rail – If the Liberals are determined to build a light rail project in Parramatta (to please their developer mates who want to build high rise all over the public lands near Parramatta Gaol) they can still do so but instead they should plan the route so that it does not ruin a perfectly good heavy rail corridor that could be used for a Metro connection.   Rather than run the Light Rail down already congested Church Street (and flatten a historic pub and cover “Eat Street” in dust for years) they could run it down Villiers Street and across the Bernie Banton bridge and then turn left down George or Macquarie Streets. From there the light rail could run to Homebush via Grand Avenue and a bridge across Duck River.

Making Parramatta a real second CBD for Sydney

The diagram below shows:

  • Blue lines– the NorthWest Metro and the Metro construction from Chatswood to the North Sydney
  • Red Lines – existing heavy rail lines – the Chatswood to Epping section will be converted to Metro operations in September 2018
  • Green lines – the short sections needed to complete a Parramatta to Epping Metro connection.  Minimal tunnel is required compared to what was required for the North West Metro.
  • Purple Line – the proposed 20 km Metro West that will take at least a decade to build and will cost a fortune.


Arguments against extending the Sydney Metro to Parramatta via Epping

It is hard to think of a single decent argument for NOT extending the Sydney Metro from Epping to Parramatta.

It simply ticks too many boxes:

  • Low cost
  • Quick to complete
  • Existing rail corridor for much of the route.
  • High demand for the service
  • Wide range of other valuable benefits

What does Mr Geoff Lee have to say?

The local member for Parramatta Mr Geoff Lee is a pleasant guy, a long time resident of Western Sydney and a university lecturer in business.

Perhaps he can explain the arguments against completing a Sydney Metro connection between Parramatta and Epping and why building a $3.5 Billion “white elephant” Light Rail that terminates at Carlingford is a better use of taxpayers money?

Geoff it is time to wake up and do something serious for Parramatta and Western Sydney.

Categories: Macrobusiness

6 replies »

  1. Can we imagine the demand push from commuters coming from/going to Sydney North Shore, using the new Western Sydney Airport, not being met by a Parramatta to Epping rail connection? The P-E connection will be needed, before the new Airport is operational. if not That would planning incompetence.


  2. The white elephant LR from Westmead to Carlingford is already being constructed, but they can at least still build that green tunnel and complete the link. If this happens, another set of escalators would have to be built as Epping Station is becoming quite the transit hub with the recently opened Metro line and existing bus and rail links.
    Residents are already served with the 550 (previously M54) bus linking Parramatta to Macquarie Centre via Carlingford and Epping, but that bus has too many stops and gets stuck at the pinch point bridges on Epping Rd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Recently there was an update made at the bottom of the FAQ section on the Parramatta Light Rail website (

      Transport for NSW has stated that “Investigations to date have identified Carlingford to Epping as a future dedicated public transport corridor, and light rail as a potential transport mode will be considered as part of any future planning in this area.”

      On the same FAQ page, it is mentioned that Stage 2 of the Parramatta Light Rail project is still being considered by the NSW government and that an investment decision will follow. Maybe this means that Stage 2 is going to be deferred or cancelled. Fingers crossed any funding set aside for Stage 2 can be diverted to Stage 1 to complete a Carlingford to Epping extension instead.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This makes so much sense. What can we do to make people aware of this? By all means build light rail but why waste money converting heavy rail to light rail..


  4. Arguments against – Fed Labor promised to fund it if they won the 2013 election. Libs can’t be seen doing something proposed so long ago.


    • Yes – that is probably the strongest argument against insofar as the way the average political hack operates. But if it helps any LNP hacks reading this and troubled by the argument you raise, I suggest they frame a promise to extend the Metro to Parramatta as fundamentally different because a Metro connection would be far superior to the olden fashioned heavy rail connection that the ALP were promising.

      Likewise for the ALP hacks I recommend that promising to extend the Metro to Parramatta is about making a silk purse at the lowest possible cost out of the mess created by the LNP vandalism of a critical part of the Sydney heavy rail network.

      Either side could make a promise to complete the connection a voting winning policy if they thought about it.

      My fear is that the ALP under Foley will ignore the potential of completing the link and to try a “small target” strategy and lose and the Liberals will ignore it as well because they have already promised a bunch of their developer finance mates that they get their hands on the Parramatta North precinct and a dopey white elephant light rail to Carlingford is part of that deal.


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