|Line length||26 km (16 mi)|
Western FastRail was a proposed $2 billion privately funded underground and above-ground train line that would link central Sydney with Western Sydney independent from the CityRail network. Western FastRail was being backed by a consortium led by businessman and former union leader Michael Easson, which includes Dutch bank ABN AMRO and Australian construction company Leighton Holdings. As of 2008 the State Government has ruled out the project due to cost concerns.
The project was prompted by congestion on Sydney's westbound trains and roads, the growing importance of Parramatta as a business centre, higher petrol prices, public opposition to tolled roads and environmental concerns. An unreleased government document leaked to The Daily Telegraph suggests that such a train would eliminate the need of around 18 million car trips per year, reducing between 34,000 and 45,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions being put into the atmosphere.
The proposal was first made on 11 April 2002 when Col Gellatly, the state's top civil servant and director-general of the Department of Premier convened a meeting of Treasury secretary, John Pierce, the Transport NSW director-general, Michael Deegan, and the State Rail Authority chief executive, Howard Lacy. Before them consortium leader Michael Easson made a presentation for a privately financed rail line linking Sydney's far west with the city. For a $8 return toll on top of the normal fare, trains travelling at 160 km/h could carry up to 16,000 commuters an hour to the city in 28 minutes, taking 11 minutes from Parramatta to the city. The proposal depended on the construction of two tracks from St Marys to Penrith, as well as taking over existing CityRail tracks between St Marys to Westmead. Costed at $2 billion, it was deemed extraordinarily cheap, and in December 2003 the Government formally rejected the unsolicited proposal.
In March 2005 the proposal was again brought up, and again in December 2006 by then federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd during a visit to Penrith should the Australian Labor Party win the 2007 Federal Election. The plan has received approving comments by the NSW State Government. In September 2007 the proposal was again shown to the NSW Government.
On 18 March 2008, the NSW State Government announced the SydneyLink project which included the construction of a West Metro in the future linking Parramatta and the Sydney CBD. The Premier Morris Iemma was asked about the Western FastRail proposal, and said that "the proposal on Penrith has got to stack up," and "the work that has been done shows that it does not stack up, for a number of reasons." On 25 August, the State Government made a public announcement that it had ruled out the project two weeks earlier due to cost concerns, with the head of the consortium saying that the Government has failed to adequately review the proposal.
In April 2010 the West Metro was cancelled and the CBD Relief Line and Western Express were announced. These are similar to the Western FastRail proposal, but only include a new tunnel under the CBD, whereas the Western FastRail includes a tunnel all the way to Parramatta.
It was proposed that two 26 km underground tunnels will link Sydney (possibly Wynyard station or a new nearby station to be built as part of MetroPitt) with Parramatta, with high-speed trains traversing across the distance in eleven minutes at speeds of up to 160 km/h. The line will continue above-ground to Blacktown in six minutes, and onwards to Penrith in a further eleven minutes. Currently on existing Sydney Trains lines these journeys take up to three times as long.
There are 10 stations proposed for the Western FastRail:
- Metro West (new station)
- Olympic Park (possible new station)
- Seven Hills
- Mount Druitt
- St Marys
- Andrew West (25 August 2008). "Please explain: FastRail fumes over rejection". Sydney Morning Herald. www.smh.com.au. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
- Linton Besser (23 August 2008). "The boomerang train". Sydney Morning Herald. www.smh.com.au. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
- Alexandra Smith (15 March 2005). "Parramatta to city in 11 minutes: now that's a fast train - National - www.smh.com.au". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
- Hildebrand, J. Rudd's road and rail cash. Daily Telegraph 19 December 2006
- Linton Besser (14 September 2007). "New east-west line may cut congestion". Sydney Morning Herald. www.smh.com.au. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
- SydneyLink project: Where could we use a metro rail line?
- "Please explain: Govt ditched $3.9b 'fast rail'". ABC News. www.abc.net.au. 25 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-28.
- Western FastRail
- Linton Besser (23 August 2008). "The boomerang train". Sydney Morning Herald.