AUSTRALIA’s Federal government has backed proposals to extend Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Railway to Bondi Beach, by approving tax concessions worth A$15·6m over five years. The move was announced on December 19 by Transport Minister John Anderson, and should allow construction to get under way this year.

A consortium of Lend Lease Infrastructure and Macquarie Bank was selected in mid-1997 for a 30-year concession to build the 3 km extension, now costed at A$197m, and lease it to CityRail to operate (RG 9.97 p564). At the end of the concession the assets would be transferred to NSW Rail Access Corp.

On the same day NSW Transport Minister Carl Scully confirmed that work was getting under way on the 3 km extension of the Sydney Light Rail line from Pyrmont to Lilyfield. The state has agreed to contribute A$16m towards the A$20m project, which is due to be completed in August. The route follows a disused freight rail alignment, and intermediate stops will be built at Glebe, Jubilee Park, and Rozelle Bay.

Scully also issued the environmental impact statement for the A$1·4bn orbital line which is planned to link Paramatta and Chatswood through the city’s northwest suburbs. He expects work on this 27 km line to get under way by December, with opening now anticipated by 2006. n