The Parramatta Light Rail will connect Westmead to Carlingford via the Parramatta CBD and Camellia, and is expected to open in 2023. Major construction is underway, with a number of measures in place to reduce impact to the community. Light rail in the Cumberland Hospital Precinct has been designed to be as sympathetic as possible to the area.
From 2023, the Parramatta Light Rail will provide a new public transport option for locals and visitors to explore what the region has to offer. The light rail will connect residents, university students and communities to vital services and jobs within the planned Westmead Health and Innovation District, already the largest biomedical precinct in Australia. This includes the Cumberland Hospital Precinct, an important North Parramatta heritage area.
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History of the site
The Cumberland Hospital Precinct is located within the state heritage-listed ‘Cumberland District Hospital Group’, a site of historic buildings including the convict-era Female Factory, Cumberland Hospital (Eastern Campus), the former Parramatta Mental Hospital and the former Asylum for the Insane. The precinct is part of Greater Parramatta’s living history and its preservation is central to the construction and operation of the light rail.
New university campus
The NSW Government has announced that a multi-disciplinary University of Sydney campus will be delivered within the Cumberland Hospital Precinct as part of the planned Westmead Health and Innovation District. It is intended to attract more than 25000 students and 2500 staff by 2055.
Where will the light rail go?
Within the Cumberland Hospital Precinct, the Parramatta Light Rail will travel along Hainsworth Street, then alongside Bridge Road, where it will cross the Parramatta River and continue along Eastern Circuit on to Factory Street. A new bridge will be built across the Parramatta River, alongside Bridge Road. Parramatta Light Rail stops will be located near Westmead Station, Westmead Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and within Cumberland Campus East at Factory Street.
Transport for NSW is working closely with NSW Health, the Heritage Council of NSW, the City of Parramatta Council and Infrastructure NSW as part of a plan for the precinct. The light rail has been designed to be as sympathetic as possible to the precinct’s heritage and is being constructed mainly along existing roads. It will be free of overhead wires from the Westmead terminus to the Cumberland Hospital stop.
Trees in the precinct
Transport for NSW is planting at least 3,500 trees around Parramatta as part of the light rail program. These include five mature fig trees and around 76 fig tree cuttings, including those from a cluster, believed to be under 60 years old, removed from within the Cumberland Hospital grounds in 2020. Read more, here.
Transport for NSW is working closely with NSW Health and the Western Sydney Local Health District to ensure the construction of light rail considers the current health services in the area and the safety of patients, staff and the community. Measures are in place to manage noise and vibration during construction, and access to Cumberland Hospital will be maintained at all times. Once the Parramatta Light Rail is operational, it will travel at reduced speeds through the precinct and crossing points will enable vehicles and the community to safely cross the light rail tracks. The light rail drivers will be trained to be highly responsive in the event of an emergency.
Transport for NSW makes every possible effort to avoid impacts to property, particularly in heritage areas, and will only do this when it has exhausted all other avenues. Five buildings that were not heritage-listed have been demolished in Cumberland West.
Heritage specialists and Aboriginal representatives have been conducting archaeological testing and heritage salvage works within the Cumberland Hospital Precinct.
More than 1000 Aboriginal objects, including stone artefacts, heating pits and associated ironstone pieces, have been discovered in partnership with representatives of the Local Aboriginal Land Council and Kamilaroi- Yankuntjatjara Working Group. It is believed the heating pits were originally used by Aboriginal peoples to ‘cook’ ironstone, potentially for making red-pigmented ‘ochre’, or paint.
Found items are placed into safekeeping before being presented to local authorities. The project also looks for opportunities to protect and conserve these by, for example, incorporating materials into public art or heritage displays. In the event of a significant find, work halts and protocols are in place to ensure their sensitive handling and recording. Read more, here.
Grey-headed flying fox colony
Transport for NSW is committed to protecting the endangered grey-headed flying fox, a nationally listed threatened species that can be found in the Cumberland Hospital Precinct, during construction of the Parramatta Light Rail. The species is being monitored to gain insights into the behaviour and population trends of its colonies in Parramatta.
What will the light rail look like?
Light rail through the Cumberland Hospital Precinct will be wire free, meaning no poles or overhead wires, which will assist in preserving the heritage values of the area. Green track, where grass and shrubs are planted within and beside light rail tracks, will also form a key component of the sympathetic design through this important precinct.
Features and benefits
• Frequent ‘turn-up-and-go’ services every 7.5 minutes during peak hours, operating seven days a week from 5am to 1am.
• 16 stops connecting people to health and education facilities, eateries, entertainment, jobs and local communities.
• Modern and comfortable air-conditioned light rail vehicles, carrying up to 300 customers each, the equivalent of around six buses.