Boost for builders: NSW allocates $3bn for third Metro leg

Global engineering and construction firms will be celebrating yesterday’s news that the state of New South Wales (NSW) has decided to push ahead with a third leg of the ambitious Sydney Metro scheme, which is billed as Australia’s biggest transport project.

In its 2018 Budget, the NSW government has reserved an initial A$3bn (US$2.2bn) for the leg, which is proposed to run due west from downtown Sydney out to the Olympic Park and Paramatta districts.

The main 66-km, 31-station, underground driverless railway, estimated to cost approximately A$20.3bn, is already being built, with one leg nearing completion that curves northwest from downtown Sydney, and another, with construction soon to begin, curving southwest from downtown, with the whole forming a rough horseshoe.

Intersecting the horseshoe in between the northern and southern legs, the proposed Metro West segment would give the Metro a third prong.

As well as the A$3bn now reserved in the budget, to be spent on station design and obtaining planning approvals, NSW set aside A$28m toward finishing the final business case for the Metro West line, which UK project and cost manager Turner & Townsend, with fellow UK advisor HKA, has been retained to prepare.

Earlier this month, Turner & Townsend, HKA and Crossrail International were also appointed "managed service provider" for the estimated A$12bn, 30-km southwest line, on which tunnel-boring is due to begin this year.

If the Metro West leg gets final approval, it raises the prospect of more work for other international firms already working on the Metro project, including current Metro station designers Mott MacDonald, Foster + Partners and Arcadis, and UK contractor Laing O’Rourke, selected earlier this year to transform Sydney’s Central Station, making it a node connecting the new Metro with existing transit systems.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, of the Liberal/National alliance, said the Metro West would be a legacy for generations of Sydney commuters.

"Sydney Metro West will be our city’s next big underground metro railway – a new, easy link between Sydney CBD [central business district] and Parramatta – and we’re getting on with the job as quickly as possible," she said.

Her transport minister Andrew Constance confirmed that Metro West would link the CBD with Parramatta and Westmead via The Bays Precinct and Sydney Olympic Park, and that work was underway to determine other stations along the route.

"This massive investment in Sydney’s future will make it faster and easier to get around our great global city," he said.

Subject to the final business case, the NSW government said it intends to start building Metro West in the next term of government, which makes it an election issue because the next state parliamentary elections are due to be held 23 March 2019.

Taking a swipe at the opposition Labor Party, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said: "This government is making this project a reality, unlike Labor who previously promised to build a West Metro, before cancelling it without delivering a single track or tunnel."

The first, northwest line of the Metro is due to open in the first half of next year, with the southwest line set to open in 2024.

Image: Map showing approximate alignment of proposed third, western leg of Sydney’s new Metro (NSW government)

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