The evening peak is very similar to the morning peak. Frequencies are slightly lower, as patronage is more spread out in the evening than it is in the morning. However, this also means there is more scope to increase frequencies in the evening, whereas in the morning there are some lines which are already at the maximum 20 trains per hour limit.
As with the morning peak, the main winners are stations further out (particularly those further out from Hurstville, Gordon, and Revesby), while services are now more harmonised, simpler and more evenly spread out. More services follow clockface stopping patterns, with a particular stopping pattern generally occurring once every 15 minutes. Extra services have also been added, increasing the number of trains passing through Central in the busiest hour of the evening peak from 96 to 109. This is a much larger increase than in the morning, where the equivalent figures are 109 to 117 (or 118 if you count the two 4 carriage trains as two trains, rather than the equivalent of a single 8 carriage train). This should significantly reduce overcrowding issues.
Some stations lose out from fewer services (though generally those remaining services will have extra available seats), and a very minor few will see longer journeys, but these are kept to a minimum. Standouts here are Kograh, Rockdale, Beverly Hills, and Kingsgrove.
A net 13 additional services have been added during the busiest hour of the evening peak. This includes an extra 15 services: 5 on the Eastern Suburbs Line, 2 on the Illawarra Line, 1 on the Airport & East Hills Line, 2 on the Bankstown Line, 2 on the South Line, 2 on the North Shore Line, and 1 on the Western Line, while 2 services have been removed: 1 from the South Coast Line and 1 on the Inner West Line. As a result, 3 of the 4 busiest lines will see their average load drop under 100%. This means that, assuming passengers loads are evenly spread between and within trains, every passenger will be able to sit down in these cases where loadings are under 100%.
The one line that remains over 100% is the Western Line, which has no spare capacity to increase services any more than is currently the case. Additional demand here must be satisfied from passengers going to other lines or taking the train at times other than peak hour.
More harmonised stopping patterns on many lines should also result in a more even spread of crowds between trains, which should reduce the spiking of loads on some trains.
This is important, as overcrowding is one cause of delays and disruptions that have so negatively affected Cityrail in recent months. So this will be an interesting measure to look at once the new timetable is introduced in October.
How to read the tables below
- The PM peak is (roughly) all trains that depart from Central Station between 5:00PM and 6:00PM each weekday evening. This has sometimes been shifted forward or back if the busiest period for that particular line is slightly different.
- The 2 exceptions to the above are Macquarie Park bound services from the CBD and Parramatta bound services between Blacktown and Harris Park. In these cases, it’s trains departing from Macquarie Park and Parramatta Stations between 5:00PM and 6:00PM.
- Frequency refers to the number of trains that stop at that station during that hour. It indicates the total capacity of the line, in terms of seats and standing room.
- Headways refers to the time between trains at Central Station (and not the time between them when they arrive at their destination station). The important figure is the maximum headways, as it shows how long the wait is to the next train can be if you just missed the train.
- Journey time indicates whether journeys are longer, shorter, or the same, and by how long. This can sometimes be subjective, so use it as a rough guide.
- Green means better (e.g. shorter journey times, higher frequency, shorter max headways), yellow means unchanged, red means worse.
Airport & East Hills Line
An extra express service is added during the evening peak hour, raising the total number from 11 to 12. This allows for 3 different stopping patterns, each with 4 trains per hour at 15 minute intervals, down from a far more complex 7 stopping patterns that currently exist. More trains run express, skipping stations East of Revesby, resulting in significantly shorter journeys for outer suburban stations but fewer services for stations such as Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills, which lose their express services.
An extra 2 services are being added during the evening peak hour, raising the total number from 6 to 8. Many outer suburban stations will see significantly shorter travel times, particularly to Cabramatta, Warwick Farm, and Liverpool. In particular, Bankstown Line trains will arrive at Liverpool only 5 minutes after the trains on the South Line do. This may encourage some passengers going to Liverpool to travel via Bankstown instead of via Lidcombe (particularly those on the Eastern part of the CBD who travel from Museum or St James stations), thus taking some pressure off the congested trains on the Inner West and South Lines. This is more evident during the PM peak, when South and Bankstown Line trains depart from different stations, whereas in the AM peak they would all depart from Liverpool.
Meanwhile, the truncation of Inner West Line services to Homebush means all trains to stations on the extremities of the Bankstown Line will now be serviced exclusively by the Bankstown Line. The loss of Inner West Line services will require passengers seeking a direct service onto the lower frequencies and longer journey times for Bankstown Line services to Wiley Park, Yagoona, Berala, or Regents Park. For those willing to make a transfer at Lidcombe, the higher frequencies and faster journeys on other lines could actually translate into a shorter overall journey.
Stopping patterns have been simplified, falling from 4 types of stopping patterns down to 2.
Inner West Line
One fast service (stopping at Newtown, Petersham, Summer Hill, Ashfield, Croydon, Homebush) has been removed. This alone accounts for the majority of longer journey lengths in the table above.
Despite the loss of some services, maximum headways have not increased, and have actually dropped in some cases, eliminating the sometimes 18 minute long waits for the next service. This is due to the harmonisation of stopping patterns, with 1 stopping pattern for the 4 Inner West Line trains per hour, running at 15 minute frequencies, and 2 stopping patterns for the 8 South Line trains per hour, also running at 15 minute frequencies each.
The main winner here is Newtown, which will now have 8 services in the evening peak hour, up from 5, also reducing maximum headways down to 9 minutes.
Many stations on the South Line will have the number of services to them cut, but more harmonised stopping patterns have cut the maximum headways, which is a net benefit for most stations. Where maximum headways are up, it is generally by only 1 minute, whereas the majority will see them fall by 2 to 3 minutes. The big winners are the outer suburban stations South of Granville, which have a significant drop in travel times, as well as Flemington, where the maximum headways from from 22 minutes to 15 minutes. The main loser is Auburn, which loses its fast services from Central.
North Shore Line
Two additional services has been added, increasing the total number from 13 to 15 in the busiest hour of the evening peak. Stopping patterns are now predominantly skip stop rather than express and all stops, making direct travel from one suburban station to another not possible. This has reduced the number of stopping patterns from 5 to 4, allowed a more even and harmonised spread of services, and reduced travel times to outer suburban stations North of Gordon. Maximum headways are down for most stations, even for those with no additional services.
The main losers are Pymble, Asquith, and Berowra, which see their maximum headways increase. Although it is only 3 minutes in the case of the first, and up to 4 of the 5 minutes in the latter 2 are made up for in shorter journey lengths.
This section of the network is mostly unchanged. Better timing of slots used by trains appears to have allowed services headed North of Epping via Chatswood to do so more quickly, presumably because the current timetable requires them to wait for a fast train from Strathfield to first pass before it can proceed. The other main change is the addition of additional CBD bound services from Epping via Macquarie Park. These run every 15 minutes between 3:30PM and 5:45PM, which increases the frequency between 5PM and 6PM, up from the current 4 services to 7. Maximum headways during this period drop to 9 minutes, but as the extra services end before the evening peak hour is over, the maximum headway remains 15 minutes.
Note: Cityrail claims that there are 19 trains per hour to Parramatta during the busiest hour in the evening peak, but I’ve only been able to find 18. The figures in the table above assume 18 trains, whereas the table at the beginning of this post assume 19 trains.
The Western Line has a number of long distance services where a fast train will leave Central after a slow train, then overtake the slow train and arrive at its destination earlier. These slow trains have been excluded in the above figures. In the case of Penrith, 4 services have been added due to them being slower services that still arrive at their destination before a faster service due to better timetabling.
The main improvement on the Western Line comes from more harmonised stopping patterns, leading to lower maximum headways. Some outer suburban stations, Schofields, Quakers Hill, Marayong, and Penrith in particular, have a significant decrease in journey times.
Some stations will see a slight deterioration in service, but only very minor.
Western Line/Cumberland Line (from Parramatta)
The addition of all day half hourly Cumberland Line services had the potential to improve access between Parramatta and nearby stations (rather than direct services from the CBD). However, as with the AM Peak, this does not appear to have occurred. Some stations will see a slight improvement, but some will see a slight deterioration.
As with the AM Peak, the main winners here are stations South of Hurstville, which will see journey times cut significantly. Most stations will see big decreased in maximum headways, in many cases down from 17 minutes to 10 minutes. The more simplified stopping patterns should also decrease the number of disruptions and delays.
Meanwhile, services to Rockdale and Kograh have been cut, and journey times increased by a few minutes. Those services that these 2 stations do keep will terminate at Hurstville, which should mean passengers heading to these stations will have more seats.