The NSW government yesterday announced its biggest change to Sydney’s train network. I will put up some more about this tomorrow. Today I’m just going to outline the changes. The Northwest Rail Link will be connected up to the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link and operated privately. This new line will run as a shuttle and use single deck metro trains running every 5 minutes in a high frequency turn up and go manner. This is what we can expect trains and stations on the Northwest Rail Link (NWRL) to look like: As the new line will be separate to the rest of the network, this means they will not be connected to the CBD. The government had previously promised direct services into the city, and so this represents a broken election promise. This was reiterated by Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian herself in 12 December of last year:
Instead, the government will fast track a Second Harbour Crossing, linking Chatswood to Redfern. The NWRL will then connect up to the Bankstown Line and also continue through to Hurstville, all on frequent, rapid, single deck trains. This is what the Sydney Trains network will build up to: Eventually it will be separated into 3 tiers: NSW Trains (blue), Sydney Trains (yellow) and a future single deck metro system (red):
These sorts of trains (single deck metros) are best suited for where there is a high turnover of passengers, with lots of people getting both on and off, which is why it is being introduced in the Global Economic Arc of Sydney CBD-North Sydney-St Leonards-Chatswood-Macquarie Park-Norwest. Premier Barry O’Farrell and Ms Berejiklian were quick to begin selling the new plan, which would include:
- An increase in CBD capacity by 60%, equivalent to 100,000 passengers per hour.
- Frequent and rapid services on a new single deck metro line.
- A privately operated line with timetables and fares set by the government, in line with the rest of the network.
- A simplification of the rest of the network, continuing to split it off into separate sectors so that problems in one sector do not spill over into others.
Opposition Leader John Robertson and Shadow Transport Minister Penny Sharpe criticised the announcement, pointing out that:
- The promised CBD link is not there and passengers will need to change onto North Shore or Northern Line trains which average peak hour use of 110% and 150% of capacity respectively.
- The NWRL will be privately operated, despite Mr O’Farrell having said he “went to the election with a platform of promises and rail privatisation was not one of those policies”, further pointing out that the other privately run line (the Airport Line) charges a premium of up to $11 to use its stations and so “there is every chance that passengers will be forced to pay higher fares”.
NW rail line won’t reach Sydney CBD, ABC News