NEW SOUTH WALES Transport Minister Carl Scully announced on July 5 that the government had approved construction of a 28 km orbital rail link between Paramatta and Chatswood through Sydney’s north-western suburbs. Costed at A$1·4bn, the line will take six years to build. Detailed planning and environmental impact reviews are to get under way immediately, with construction starting in December 1999.

Around 80% of the route will be in tunnel to minimise environmental objections. It will start from Westmead on SRA’s Western main line and run under the suburban business centre of Paramatta to join the Carlingford branch, which will be upgraded, with a replacement station at Rydalmere. The route then returns to tunnel to reach underground platforms at Epping on the Northern main line. It will then head east along the Epping Road and cross the Lane Cove river to join the Northern Suburbs line at Chatswood. Paramatta - Chatswood journey times are estimated at 30 min, compared with the present best of 52 min.

On June 29 SRA Chief Executive Simon Lane announced that Evans Deakins Industries subsidiary Clyde Engineering had been selected to design, build and maintain Sydney’s fourth generation of double-deck EMUs. The 15 year contract is worth A$220m, around A$16m less than a rival bid from Goninan.

The deal covers 10 eight-car trains, with options for up to 40 more sets. Clyde will build the vehicles at the former SRA Cardiff works in the Hunter Valley, creating 170 new jobs. Another 40 jobs are planned at its Bathurst plant where the bogies and traction motors will be assembled and maintained. Partners in the project include Alstom, which will supply the traction equipment, Transport Design International, and seating supplier Sebel. o