NW Metro, NWRL, 2nd Harbour Crossing discussion

Posted: November 4, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , , ,

The recent post on how the SWRL might work received a lot of comments, which soon went on a tangent about the North West Rail Link (NWRL) and the now abandoned plans for the North West Metro. The final EIS for the North West Metro is available here (thanks to Ray).

Alignment for the now abandoned North West Metro. Click to enlarge. (Source: North West Metro Preliminary Environmental Assessment, p. 1.5)

Alignment for the now abandoned North West Metro. Click to enlarge. (Source: North West Metro Preliminary Environmental Assessment, p. 1.5)

A few highlights from the comments section of that post:

“[The metro conversion strategy] has been developed by the same Transport planners that worked for the previous Government and the ideas are not new. The Liberals actually came in to Government wanting to expand the Double Decker network but got the same good sell that the previous Labor Government got when they pushed the same kind of single deck plans (the current plans are better though) and so they changed their mind.The conversion of the line to Hurstville was the first of the lines that the planners wanted and that was first touted years ago. They have reviewed a number of lines for conversion to Single Deckers…The Airport line to Revesby makes sense”Rails

“starting with the first iteration of the NW metro via Rozelle, then the CBD metro to Rozelle and now the NWRL, the metro has become a solution in search of a problem. Instead of investigating high-capacity short routes in which a metro might add some value such as Parramatta Road and along the Anzac Road corridor to UNSW, the transport bureaucrats/government are pushing the metro for a long-haul outer-suburban corridor best suited to double-deck trains.”Alex

“The thing is that both the original Anzac Metro, NW Metro and the CBD Metro were much closer to actual “Metro” trains than what we are getting now being not only Single Deck with 3 sets of doors but smaller trains with 4-5 carriages and longitudinal seating. This was in part necessary due to the route via Victoria road and through the CBD but it was what they wanted, a true Metro. The trains we are now getting for as part of the envisaged “Rapid Transit” Network starting with the NWRL are single deck and have 3 sets of doors but differ in only being slightly smaller than the Cityrail stock and 8 carriages with 2 + 2 seating offering much better frequency, faster loading/ unloading and much more standing space. These are really Single Deck Heavy Rail rather than the lighter weight “Metro” trains that the NW were originally going to get.”Rails

“if you were to argue a line that is less suitable for running Single Deckers I actually think it would be the Bankstown line to Cabramatta but for some reason I’ve never heard anyone argue against the conversion of that line.” – Rails

“Although I don’t subscribe to the “metro” conversion strategy, I would have thought that the Inner West Line to Homebush would have been more of a priority than the IIlawarra Local Line to Hurstville, particularly when you consider the ramifications of compromising East Hills Line services from the south west.

The “metro” conversion is ideological, with the ultimate objective to split up the system to more readily make it viable for privatisation. That is totally different to a franchising model such as in Melbourne. I don’t know of many urban transport systems in the world’s major cities which are privatised. But perhaps you can enlighten me.” – Ray

“I was pretty sure that even the NW Metro was 5 carriages with the option of extending to 6 in the future but I am open to correction on that. They were physically smaller than the Cityrail trains and I am pretty sure had longitudinal seating, however that project changed a lot over time so I may be wrong. However, one thing you may not be aware of is that when they actually did the work on the CBD part of the CBD Metro and its extension from Rozelle to Epping and on to the NW, the Barangaroo station due to its location had quite short platforms that I believe limited it to 5 carriage trains. Although near the end of the CBD Metro fiasco they actually removed the NWRL from that plan altogether.”Rails

A few other comments from the recent post on no platform 1 at Wynyard and St Leonards stations relating to a Second Harbour Rail Crossing are also relevant to this discussion, in particular on whether to go over or under the Harbour:

“Why don’t they just commission the private sector to build a new harbour tunnel(allowing the company to charge juicy toll’s) and THEN convert some lanes on the bridge to heavy rail?

Is it because of the Cahill Express-way and its connection to the Eastern Suburbs? Can’t traffic use the cross-city tunnel for the same purpose?”Shiggyshiggy

“Another option suggested by the Fairfax Christie Public Transport Inquiry (disclaimer – I was involved in this) was to sling additional rail lines under the deck of the Harbour Bridge, which apparently is feasible and would be much cheaper than tunnelling.”Alex

“I am pretty sure the cheapest option would be to build the second crossing as Bradfield intended, the eastern lanes of the bridge into Wynyard 1 and 2. However, if you believe the Government that the bridge itself is limited to 26 tph in Single Deck form and 20 tph in Double Deck form then its not going to be able service the potential of the Single Deck NWRL on its own let alone service two lines, you would need three crossings at least and to stop short many services. We are struggling to get a second crossing built so I cant see three being built for a long time so its obviously time to look at either a new line running under the bridge or an under harbour tunnel. A Northern Beaches line would also have much worse grades than the NWRL/ ECRL has, it requires a serious slippery dip to get through the spit area, plus it has a catchment that suits turn up and go services and thus it makes sense to be a Single Deck line.

Now it seems the under harbour tunnel will have no issue running the required tph and should be able to service two lines with one crossing, at least for the foreseeable future. I assume that a new line under the bridge deck would be the same considering the idea of both paths seem to be very similar.The trick for the bridge option would be getting it to meet either of the two reserved rail corridors through the CBD, I think this will not be easy and in particular to connect to the “Metro Pitt” corridor it may require the demolition of a number of skyscrapers, very pricey. I do wonder though if the Single Deck trains make it more viable as you could run a steeper grade to get under these building foundations.”Rails

“Basically all the SMH report does is take MREP between Chatswood and the airport line via the reserved Metro Pitt corridor and instead of using an under harbour tunnel they replaced it with the under bridge deck idea (partly needed because of the issues running Double Deckers under the harbour). You do have to be careful with that proposal as it was a theoretical exercise, even by their own admission. They don’t know if it will work or not and as I mentioned I believe its in no way straight forward connecting to the Metro Pitt corridor at the Wynyard end (partly why MREP was proposed as a tunnel in the first place).”Rails

“Suggest you go to Google Street view (Hickson Road) and look up at the understructure of the bridge (or go there yourself). No way is it possible to hang any rail (or road) tracks under the bridge. You effectively have a dense grid of beams all roughly at the same level, and you have the two gantries which run under the bridge to give access to all of them for maintenance. I am not sure where the rails on which the gantry hangs are located, but I would suggest they are under the long side girder, see (hopefully) https://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&tab=wl”Dudley Horscroft

“the detailed submission the Inquiry received from Australian Infrastructure Solutions Ltd proposing the under-bridge proposal indicated that it would be feasible to install two or even four additional rail lines which would sit within the supporting girder structure with relatively minor modification and that the Bridge with the recent strengthening of the hangars could take the extra weight. In fact I understand an earlier version of this proposal involving road lanes was developed and nearly adopted by the Carr government, but they got cold feet at the last minute, partly because of the incorrect perception that this was going to stretch all the way across the width of the bridge.

I don’t think it would be much more difficult to construct than your earlier suggestion to put road lanes above the current deck – and despite the opposition to the earlier under deck roads proposal it would be a lot less visually intrusive. Either way there is probably an engineering solution, though whether it is financially viable or competitive with other options remains to be seen. That’s why the Inquiry stopped short of endorsing the under-bridge option, instead recommending that the proposal be comprehensively investigated.”Alex

Further comments can be made below.

  1. Tony Galloway says:

    With the ongoing decline in road traffic (peaked 2006) the only sensible solution to a second harbour rail crossing is to rebuild the former rail tracks (removed 1958) on the eastern side of the Bridge and reopen platforms 1/2 at Wynyard. Anything else is a corrupt rort for the big construction companies,and will stretch indefinitely into the future with no resolution. Loss of these tracks, used then by trams, reduced the capacity of the Bridge by 25%. After grasping this space the DMR/ RTA/ RMS will fight back hard to retain it for road traffic, but consideration of the relevant facts indicate they have no rational case for this.

    With the current state and federal governments lost in their ideological delusions, believing their own lies, and in abject denial of both global warming and peak oil, their mindlessly expensive and destructive white elephant road construction plans will suck all funding out of public transport projects for the forseeable future. Abbott and O’Farrell’s idiot road projects are the product of a hubristic ignorance, driven largely by a hatred of organised labour, and past similar plans have been fought and defeated by sane members of the community again and again. How many times must this battle be fought ??

    If these greed driven urban vandals win once, they stuff up everything for a long time into the future. The community has to fight these bastards and win again and again and again to defend themselves against the degradation of amenity and environment that these absurd and anachronistic toll roads inevitably inflict.

  2. michblogs says:

    Your website seems to have gone a bit berserk, it spends 15 minutes loading every post you have ever made, onto one huge html page.

    Anyway, it’s my view that the NW metro project was better than the current project, and here’s why. It services NEW areas. Compared to other major cities, Sydney’s rail network is quite sparse. There are too many areas which aren’t near any transport at all. ( there are many reasons which contribute to this, which I won’t go into here ). Boosting coverage to new areas, increases the potential of public transport, both for people coming out of those areas, and people going into them. Particularly for people going into them, because it is easier to get from your own house to a station in your own car, than it is to get from a remote station to some other destination, when you obviously don’t have your own car.

    The NW metro plan serviced new areas ( Drummoyne, Gladesville ), in addition to Castle Hill etc. The current metro plan only services Castle Hill newly ( Macquarie Park is already serviced by train). Those areas are hard to get out of – only have good bus service in CBD direction only. They are even harder to get into. And with better transport, good potential for higher density housing.

    The NW metro plan was already a more direct route to the CBD – important if you are standing for an hour on a cattle-car metro. And people from Kellyville or Castle Hill who wanted to go to Chatswood, could easily change to the Northern Line at Epping.

  3. Rails says:

    There is one document (that I cant find on the net) that is a very good read for those interested in the future of transport in Sydney. It was released as part of the withheld documentation for the defunct CBD Metro under the previous NSW Labor Government. This documentation is referred to here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-05-26/wrangle-over-cbd-metro-documents-to-continue/841172 In this report they reviewed the upgrade of all the Sydney transport corridors. Now this document was flawed because it was based on the assumption that the CBD Metro to Rozelle was to be built without it ever being justified (a fact which was later revealed to the public: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-07-06/secret-report-slammed-cbd-metro-plan/894316 ).

    This skewed the results for a number of the corridors. However from what I recall there was actually some great information in the document and it showed what corridors would work best including some comparisons regarding Heavy Rail, Metro, Light Rail or bus corridors. It actually had some facts and numbers to back up why each corridor should be serviced. Interestingly the corridors that stacked up well were the NWRL, the Northern Beaches line and a line from Hurstville to Macquarie Park via Olympic Park and Rhodes. Corridors that did not work as well as expected included the extension of the Rozelle Metro to Epping (despite the hardest and most expensive part meant to have been built already!), the PERL (Double Decker line) and an Anzac Pde based Metro.

    How this relates to the future of transport and in particular rail in Sydney is that despite this being written for the previous Government, you can see how it influenced the current planning document “Sydney’s Rail future”.

  4. Alex says:

    @Rails – interesting – can you recall what the document was called? If it was ever posted on the internet, it may be possible to track it down using Wayback.

  5. Rails says:

    Hi Alex, unfortunately I cant remember the name, it was part of what was apparently a few boxes worth of restricted documents the Government eventually released (and did post to the Internet) after pressure from other parties. I may have it somewhere, will see if I can find it.

  6. Rails says:


    I cant say I agree with that. There were many problems with the original NWRL “Metro” proposal and that is why it was scrapped pretty quickly.

    As mentioned above the 5 car small bodied trains were too small and short for the area it serviced (partly required because of the path it took via Victoria Road I believe). The current plan with the larger 8 car trains is superior.

    Epping was found not to be able to cope with the number of passengers requiring interchange to access where a large number of NW residents wanted to go, the jobs arc between Epping and North Sydney via Macquarie Park. Wynyard was also found not to be able cope with the number of passengers transferring to access employment centres North of the Harbour. The CBD Metro changes were partly to assist with the Wynyard issue.

    While it certainly creates new trains stops, the path from Epping to the CBD via Victoria rd was not found to generate enough traffic to justify a Metro train solution, it needed the NWRL to get the numbers up and even then it was marginal compared to gains on other corridors. It was suggested that this path was more suited to BRT or maybe Light Rail. You would need to build a lot of high rise along this route to make Metro the right choice, there are some physical constraints with this and the locals along here are pretty hardcore NIMBY, the Government later discovered this with the Rozelle locals, knowing that Metro meant more high rise and they fought really hard against it.

    This path via Victoria road had no major employment centres or destination points along its route to help justify the Single Deck format (not as much movement of passengers on and off and it doesn not have high frequency requirements throughout the day). This is the opposite of the path they have chosen now. This path via Victoria road also does not offer any relief to Cityrail, to did the opposite and put more stress on Cityrail, the current plan does offer relief and that was also meant to be a big feature of the CBD/ West Metro that followed the NWRL. It was basically NWRL v2 but left the NWRL part to last…

    Then there was the cost, with multiple harbour crossings and being challenging to build, this extension was found to have a very poor cost to benefit result. The path just didn’t stack up compared to others. I think the Government has chosen the right path for the NWRL.

  7. Alex says:

    @Rails, are there figures for passenger capacity on the 8-car metro trains planned for the NWRL, both seated and standing? I haven’t come across them yet.

  8. Ray says:

    I preface my remarks by saying that I don’t have any knowledge of the viability of the North West Metro, but on the face of it, it would appear to have some merit.

    It would service one of the busiest high volume commuter corridors along Victoria Road, currently serviced exclusively by buses, and provide a rail connection with the CBD not currently available.

    I am continually mystified why there is this obsession with connecting everything with the Macquarie Park precinct. It already has a direct rail link with the CBD as well as a comprehensive bus network. Isn’t it time that we focus on areas that are not connected by rail to the CBD, such as the Victoria Rd corridor?

    I don’t believe that the majority of commuters from the North West would be travelling to Macquarie Park. The majority of buses from the North West travel to the CBD, with only a few actually travelling to Macquarie Park. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of train commuters are actually travelling from the city, which is why additional services have been provided in the peak under the new timetable, not the reverse (from the Northern Line). In the North West Metro scenario, commuters would still be able to interchange with the ECRL to reach Macquarie Park and North Shore destinations.

    I also don’t agree that there aren’t any major employment centres or destination points (or pick-up points) along the route of the Victoria Rd corridor. Take for example, Eastwood, Top Ryde and Gladesville which are currently undergoing urban consolidation, with a significant number of retail and residential unit developments planned or underway, which in themselves create potential commuter traffic .

    My final point is that the North West Metro was at least a stand alone project, which didn’t seek to cannibalize the existing rail network and had the potential to extend it into areas not currently serviced by rail.

  9. JC says:

    @ray, michblogs

    I agree re Vic road. Now that we have existing and/or proposed rail for Macquarie area, northwest and Anzec Pde, the Victoria Road corridor is probably the biggest rail black hole in Sydney. It is wide and relatively straight and flat so it could easliy take a light rail reservation. Possible links to Glebe Island Bridge, existing inner west light rail, Carlingford line (converted to light rail and extended to Epping), Parramatta LR proposals etc etc.

  10. Rails says:


    Off the top of my head I think the numbers per train were 600 seated and 1300 all up? I would have to check the NWRL documentation.


    The obsession with the Macquarie Park connection is because it links to the corridor where the jobs are, in fact I was told that just recently Macquarie Park surpassed North Sydney as having the most office jobs outside of the CBD. Macquarie Park alone has been touted as eventually having anywhere between 100,000 and 150,000 jobs, then you have the other employment centres along this same route, Chatswood, St Leonards, North Sydney.

    You cant really compare the NW bus trips I think, they are skewed by the parking available in Macquarie Park (not a long term solution) which see a lot of these folks sitting in the M2 car park – which is part of what the NWRL is trying to alleviate, they also want to make room for all the residential densification that is occurring around the Macquarie Park/ North Ryde/ Top Ryde area by moving these folks to rail.

    Over the years I have read figures of between 40-60 % of travelers on the NWRL will get off at one of the stations before the CBD (including the employment generating stations on the NWRL I assume). I believe this is covered in the NWRL documentation if you wish to find more detail on it (clearly I really need to get around to reading all of this myself, lol). As mentioned with the NW Metro there was found to be serious issues with interchanging all the traffic bound for the ECRL/LNS corridor from the NW Metro when it was first proposed. The Government has done a lot of work on transport proposals for this corridor so they have detailed information on it.

    The good thing about the corridor via the LNS/ ECRL/ NWRL is that it will have traffic in both ways all the way to Rouse Hill with workers from other areas accessing a large number of the stops along the route including the major employment centre of Norwest which is crying out for rail (and built on the premise of rail being built!). Very few corridors in Sydney can service traffic both ways, it really helps make the line more viable.

    I don’t believe there is statistically any real employment numbers along the Victoria road corridor compared to these other centres. I also don’t think the Government have designated any future major centres along this route either. You could in no way justify any form of transport based on the employment along this route IMO. As mentioned really this corridor is best served by a BRT or even better Light Rail, the main issue with that mode being the Gladesville bridge and the connection at the CBD end. If you want to really fix a transport hole with high capacity rail you need to fix the Northern Beaches route (despite the locals objections).

    I don’t understand this “cannibalizing” argument, why does any route only belong to Cityrail? Why does it matter who provides the service itself? What matters is that the end user get the right mode and the right service. Double Deckers are not the answer to all trips any more than Single Deckers are, or light rail or buses. The true requirements of the corridor are what should decide the mode and who services it. With what the Government is proposing I think they will help Cityrail more than hinder it. I agree with servicing new destinations but they have to be viable and not all routes should be heavy rail, the route has to justify the solution and in the case of the Victoria road corridor I think it points to BRT or light rail.

  11. shiggyshiggy says:

    Hey Bambul,

    Do (another) article on BRT options for central, eastern, and northern Sydney. Corridors, cost-benefits, etc.

    Who doesn’t love talking about buses?

  12. Alex says:

    Thanks for the information re train capacities. I broadly agree with you regarding the route options for the NWRL and the importance of a direct link from the NW to Macquarie Park because of the latter’s emergence as a key employment destination.

    The NWRL will have a critical role providing a rail “spine” along the emerging employment corridor from Macquarie Park to Chatswood and ultimately to North Sydney, as well as links to Norwest Business Park and the NW Growth Centre. While I agree with you that it doesn’t really matter who operates the service, I still think it would be more appropriately built if not as a double deck service than at least to a compatible double deck standard.

    Constructing this corridor will also complete one of the key missing “spokes” in the heavy rail network. We also need to provide better cross-regional links and other services to fill in the gaps between these spokes particularly in Western Sydney, either as heavy rail or more likely as light rail (eg Parramatta Council’s proposal) or BRT.

  13. TandemTrainRider says:

    There are a lot of mis-conceptions surrounding this debate, and have been for a long time. But here are my 3 hottest:

    1) “Metro is Better”

    It’s often stated that metro or single decker systems are better than CityRail Double deckers because they have shorter dwells, faster loading times, higher line capacities, tighter headways/higher frequencies, fast/faster line speeds, can handle steeper grades, provide almost as much overall seating, can run on the same legacy infrastructure as CityRail, provide a better passenger experience on some routes and are cheaper to operate. All of these true.

    However, what is *not* true is that any design can achieve all of these things at the same time. Most designes can offer one or two “benefits” perhaps, but usually at the expense of all the others. The best report covering these topics is: http://http//images.smh.com.au/file/2013/09/23/4770519/trains.pdf

    However, what is *not* true is that any design can achieve all of these things at the same time. Most designes can offer one or two “benefits” perhaps, but usually at the expense of all the others. The best report covering these topics is: http//images.smh.com.au/file/2013/09/23/4770519/trains.pdf It’s both comprehensive and conservative, and it has to be because it’s telling people who don’t want to hear a very inconvenient truth: there may be a lot of things wrong with CityRail, but the shape of the trains isn’t one of them.

    For my part I wish people would stop comparing Single Deck and Double Decker trains as if this were the only design parameter. There are dozens equally significant design paramaters that impact on a trains performance in a given application. And if you look past the shape and at the real performance data/design specs you’ll see just how much of an uphill battle bettering the current design is.

    2) “We *need* a second harbour crossing”.

    The “need” for a second harbour crossing is something an of article of faith among gunzels and public transport advocates ever since Bradfield decided to install those redundant rail lines across Sydney harbour in the 1920s. But the fact is those lines wern’t needed then, and still aren’t needed now nearly a century later. (@Alex I’ll address your specific comments a bit later if you don’t mind).

    There has only been one productivity imnprovement made to the existing line (switch to DD trains) in the 80 years since inception, and the line is still ay below capacity, and will still be even post the NWRL metro. At some point, still decades down the track, another increase in productivity on SHB line will be needed. But the scope for improving productivity here is enormous, almost certainly close to the total achievable capacity of the NWRL format as currently proposed.

    3) “It’s the CBD Stupid!”

    People who argue that these new “growth regions” should be priority for rail transport simply don’t understand it’s role in the transport mix. Largely I think it’s about confusing “growth” with “volume”. While expressed as a percentage rate “growth” in the CBD might seem low, it’s sheer size means growth in absulute terms in the CBD dwarfs that of all the other satelites combined. Further, the CBD has a (much) higher percentage of PT penetration, and rail (because rail has less flexible routes and are naturally already convergent on the CBD) has a higher share of that market. In Sydney, the CBD’s eccentric location adds to rail’s comparative advantage for that market.

    Even if you accept Rail’s ludicrous jobs projections for Macquarie Park (and the implied near static employment growth everywhere else in Sydney over the same period), the public benefit of a single trip done by rail from the Hills to McPark is way less than a single journey to the City’s core, or to the primary hub and then on to another satelite. The fact that rail can provide additional PT benefits beyound it’s primary one does not mean these secondary interests should take precidence.

  14. Rails says:


    I have to say I’ve read your post a few times and I am not even sure what you’re arguing for and to be honest that is a pretty condescending post, wasn’t going to bother responding actually but here goes.

    If you have read what I’ve posted you will see I’ve said the complete opposite to the suggestion that Single Deck trains are always better than Double Deck, or buses or Light Rail or whatever, what I’ve said specifically is that the choice depends on the corridor you are serving. I am not generalising like you are, you can have that debate if you want but I am not interested. I am saying that for the NWRL the choice of Single Deck trains makes sense. I wouldn’t even go as far as saying it’s the only option but it does work. The big issue I have is that people who haven’t considered the details (or have another axe to grind) say because it runs to Rouse Hill and everyone goes to the city this line has to be serviced by Cityrail trains, that is simplistic and wrong. For many punters, no amount of evidence seems to matter with this concept. However the Government have argued this case and put forward the numbers, including stating that a pretty large number of passengers are not CBD bound but using stations prior to the CBD, if you think they are lying that is your own business.

    You have also twisted what I’ve said, I never claimed the CBD wasn’t the largest employment node or that it shouldn’t be serviced or that you should always build rail to all satellite centres first, however again talking specifically about the NWRL are you suggesting that the Government should build the second harbour crossing to Redfern first? Based on your comments about rail gunzels and transport advocates being the only one wanting a second harbour rail crossing (that is not right at all) I assume not, so these benefits of the NWRL are entirely relevant and I am again not sure what you’re trying to say here?

    I was stating that there are other transport issues that can be solved by the NWRL and servicing the many employment nodes along its route is one of the benefits, as is helping to relieve the M2 and the roads around and through Macquarie Park/ Ryde which are extremely congested. Also as mentioned, this line will support a substantial amount of urban regeneration along its path, a very important aspect. This line itself is still designed to run to the CBD like nearly all other rail lines (although many will argue that’s not what we should be aiming for but that is a general discussion not NWRL specific), however because there are so many employment centres along its route it can use a different solution to other lines in Sydney. This choice has benefits all the way through the proposed route and it is about the long term, not just now which is what many can’t see. I support it. If you were talking about converting, say the Main West line to Single Deckers I would not support it.

    When you say “it’s (the CBD) sheer size means growth in absulute terms in the CBD dwarfs that of all the other satelites combined” do you actually know the current employment numbers for major centres in Sydney and the future projections for these same centres? Or are you just assuming? Have you read the NSW Governments previous Metro strategies? (the current version is not finalised last time I checked so I can’t comment on changes). Worth reading, I think you will be surprised by the number of jobs that are in and are proposed for the global employment arc from North Sydney to Rouse Hill, even compared to the CBD. Also those are not my “ludicrous” projections for the Macquarie Park area (area surrounding the ECRL stations) to hit 150, 000 long term, it was a projection put forward for the area, and since the area currently supports nearly 50,000 jobs (from nothing 20 years ago), I don’t think that 150,000 long term is ludicrous at all myself. Of course these are just projections, I didn’t claim them as anything else. However do you understand the reasoning for these centres and their success? I am also curious how you judge the “public benefit” of a trip to the City’s core vs any other trip?

  15. michblogs says:

    Rails, I think you have missed the points I was making.

    Comparing a 5-car train on the direct route from the CBD to epping, to an 8-car train on the current plan, is spurious in my opinion. If this is really an issue, you could have 8-car metro trains on the victoria road route. If you want to compare two different routing options, you don’t bring an essentially spurious rolling stock difference into it.

    Too many people would have to change at epping, because they want to go to Macquarie Park or Chatswood ? This is nonsense. Look at the number of buses from Castle Hill to the CBD. Then look at the number of buses from Castle Hill to Chatswood. Spot the difference ? If necessary, build another escalator between the topside and the bottomside at Epping. It is not rocket science. Other countries manage interchanges between metro lines far busier than any that Australia will ever have.

    Having more traffic to intermediate points is going to boost the utilisation of the currently under-loaded Northern line services. It avoids some of the tricky issues that will arise from trying to go back to the old way of running the Northern line.

    Your argument that interchange capacity at Epping is a showstopper for a direct city route, is a classic example of a spurious minor detail which somehow makes the whole very expensive project “prohibitive”.

    As oil runs out, increasing mode share of public transport will be inevitable. One of the critical problems with Sydney public transport is it’s poor coverage. In other large cities, you are rarely more than 1 km from a metro line. In Sydney, this is just not the case. That’s what makes public transport functionally inaccessible for large proportions of people. That is the key reason why extending system coverage to NEW areas is more important than faffing around with routes that already exist. Supposedly a huge amount of money will be spend changing the existing stations on the macquarie park line, which extends new service coverage to NOBODY.

    And it is a simple fact that the direct route from Epping to the CBD is substantially shorter, and faster, than going to Chatswood first ( and changing there ). So the commuters from Rouse Hill and Castle Hill would have a faster trip to the CBD.

    And CBD commuters from Gladesville, Drummoyne, Rozelle obviously benefit. And therefore car commuters on Victoria Road benefit from less bus congestion. And less bus congestion in the QVB/Town Hall area.

    The potential for higher density housing and more commercial development around the Gladesville area is substantial. There is a lot of run-down old housing. And enough parks and waterfront access to make high-density more aesthically tolerable. It is close to the CBD and fairly accessible from the CBD, Macquarie district, Chatswood, Parramatta, Burwood region, compared to travelling vast distances to outer areas. It is short distances by both car and public transport from many places.

    Anyway, you can quibble about particular projects, but I think that new lines to new unserviced areas is more important than capacity amplification on existing lines. A more comprehensive public transport system, is one that more people will use.

  16. michblogs says:

    ” The NWRL will have a critical role providing a rail “spine” along the emerging employment corridor from Macquarie Park to Chatswood and ultimately to North Sydney, as well as links to Norwest Business Park and the NW Growth Centre. ”

    Well, umm, no. In case you didn’t notice, most of that “critical rail spine” was already implemented, at vast expense, about 4 years ago.

    Obviously, the western part hasn’t been built.

    You can currently travel by train from Macquarie Park to North Sydney. Under the NWRL plan, you’ll have to change at Chatswood. But it is supposedly unreasonable to make people transfer at Epping, and have direct services through Chatswood ?

    “Constructing this corridor will also complete one of the key missing “spokes” in the heavy rail network.”

    The key “missing spoke” in the heavy rail network, is a direct line running straight to the NW out of the CBD. There are six main roads out of the CBD and every one has a train near it, except Victoria Road.

  17. michblogs says:

    ” they also want to make room for all the residential densification that is occurring around the Macquarie Park/ North Ryde/ Top Ryde area by moving these folks to rail. ”

    Unless you are proposing to close down the cemetery, there is remarkably little opportunity for more housing within credible walking distance of the rail. And the prospects of finding buyers for units without parking, in suburban areas, at the prices they will be charging there ? Unrealistic.

  18. michblogs says:

    ” As mentioned with the NW Metro there was found to be serious issues with interchanging all the traffic [at Epping] bound for the ECRL/LNS corridor from the NW Metro when it was first proposed. ”

    Was this before, or after, they decided to force everyone to change at Chatswood ?

  19. michblogs says:

    Ray said:

    “I don’t believe that the majority of commuters from the North West would be travelling to Macquarie Park.”

    I agree completely. I don’t believe it, either.

    “Anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority of train commuters are actually travelling from the city, which is why additional services have been provided in the peak under the new timetable, not the reverse (from the Northern Line).”

    These are not really additional services. They are all existing peak services from the Western line to the CBD, which are diverted to run to Hornsby stabling yard via Macquarie Park instead of Turramurra. This is a no-cost, no-brainer improvement which has the substantial secondary benefit of reducing congestion on Town Hall platform 3 in the morning peak due to people from the Eastern Suburbs and CBD trying to get to Macquarie Park.

    “I also don’t agree that there aren’t any major employment centres or destination points (or pick-up points) along the route of the Victoria Rd corridor. Take for example, Eastwood, Top Ryde and Gladesville which are currently undergoing urban consolidation, with a significant number of retail and residential unit developments planned or underway, which in themselves create potential commuter traffic .”

    It’s not just about employment centres. This is also a major underserviced residential area. Providing rail to the inner north-west also improves the road performance of Victoria Road. This in turn, at the margins, takes some pressure off both the M4 and the north sydney harbour road crossings. If Victoria Road works better, there is a band of suburbs between Gladesville and Telopea whose drivers will use it, instead of the M4 and M2.

    The CBD is the key employment driver. It makes a lot more sense to have more people commuting to the CBD from places like Gladesville, than from Leppington.

    “My final point is that the North West Metro was at least a stand alone project, which didn’t seek to cannibalize the existing rail network and had the potential to extend it into areas not currently serviced by rail.”

    Exactly right. Build new stations, don’t cannibalise old ones.

  20. TandemTrainRider says:

    “… I am not even sure what you’re arguing for and to be honest that is a pretty condescending post”

    Let me appologise for the tone of that post. I was trying to make it brief and instead made it terse and overly surley.

    And let me stress that other than perhaps the Macquaire Park comment, the rest of it was not aimed at you personally.

    I want to take you up on a few of the points you raised, I might just leave things at that for now.

  21. Ray says:

    Thanks michblogs for your support. I couldn’t have expressed my response to Rails as eloquently as you have done.

    What Rails fails to appreciate is that there are other areas of Sydney, such as the Victoria Rd corridor, that are also deserving of a high capacity rail transport link to the CBD. The world doesn’t revolve around Macquarie Park. If you take the trouble of reading the Final Draft of the Preliminary Environmental Assessment for the now abandoned North West Metro, it favoured a link between Epping and Gladesville via Eastwood and Top Ryde, over a route via Macquarie Park, which is at odds with the subsequent Sydney Metro’s long term plans and the subsequent NWRL. The reasons for this are clearly stated in the Environmental Assessment.

    Whilst Macquarie Park is undoubtedly a higher employment destination, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this will be translated into more commuters switching from their cars to a rapid transit system. I think the transport planners are kidding themselves if they think there will be a dramatic transfer from cars to public transport, when you take into account the abundance of car parking available. After all, Macquarie Park has developed as a car oriented business park, which is the complete opposite to the more traditional concept of a compact business district. They are repeating the same mistakes as overestimating car usage for the Cross City and Lane Cove Tunnels.

    Macquarie Park is a widely dispersed area, and not conducive to public transport usage and it is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

    Although it’s probably now academic, the Victoria Rd corridor has the potential to dramatically increase the commuter patronage to the CBD from Eastwood, Top Ryde and Gladesville because of the urban consolidation now taking place in these centres (and throw into the mix Drummoyne, Rozelle and Pyrmont). The prospect of any major increase in residential development in Macquarie Park is limited, as Ryde City Council is determined to ensure that it remains as a business oriented precinct.

    It probably would have made more sense if the NWRL from Epping to Rouse Hill was built as originally intended as an extension of the ECRL integrated with the existing rail network (double deck operation) and the North West Metro started from Epping to the CBD via the Victoria Rd corridor as a completely separate system (bypassing Macquarie Park). This may not satisfy everybody, but it would at least maintain the integrity of the existing rail network and open up possibilities for future expansion of an exclusive metro network.

    Just specifically in response to Rails with regard to the cannibalization of the existing Sydney Trains network, it is a major issue with the conversation of the Illawarra Local Line to Hurstville to rapid transit operation. It will cut off the option of operating express East Hills Line services via Sydenham to the CBD, including Southern NSW Trainlink services, which would be forced to revert to the previous pattern via Lidcombe, where they have to cross to the Main Western Tracks (not an ideal scenario). The issue of freight train access to the Illawarra Line from the Western and Northern Lines has also not been addressed or are you sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem will go away?

  22. Rails says:

    Sorry guys, I am out of this one, I have gone over the points already raised here and don’t feel like repeating myself to be honest.

    In the end you can call it all nonsense or whatever and use your own opinions and “anecdotal evidence” rather than the evidence that has been released to come to a conclusion but what you have to realise is that this has actually been reviewed a number of times since the idea of the NW Metro was first floated, its public record that the previous NSW Government did not do the prep work on this project or the following CBD Metro that used the same path, they did the work after the announcements and found there were issues with that alignment, many of which I have already detailed. They didn’t want to release these reports for that exact reason. You may like the original concept because in your view it protects Cityrail (or whatever barrow is being pushed) but that is a very poor reason to build a line (thus it was killed very quickly). They did not make that mistake with this line, they did their homework first. I guess in the end people can believe what they want :)

    I will also add this to michblogs North Ryde comment, try http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/north-ryde-station . Check out the plans for the length of the NWRL corridor and what is happening along the ECRL corridor too.


    No problems, internet posts don’t always come across as intended.

  23. Simon says:

    The points in Ray’s last paragraph haven’t been addressed by anyone that I’ve seen.

  24. Ray says:

    Following up on my previous post, I overlooked the fact that the previous pattern for Southern NSW Trainlink services would not be able to travel via Regents Park to Lidcombe because of its incompatible conversion to rapid transit operation. They would instead have to take the longer route via Granville, but still have to cross over to the Main Western tracks.

    With regard to freight train services from the Western and Northern Lines to the Illawarra Line, I didn’t mention an alternative option to re-route these services via the proposed Maldon to Dombarton Railway. However, this would be a significant detour and there is no guarantee that it will actually be constructed, particularly as the new Coalition Government is averse to rail infrastructure investment compared with road infrastructure. The prospect of continued operation for freight services via the Illawarra Line from Sydenham/Marrickville has to taken into account, which would circumvent the conversion to exclusive rapid transit operation.

  25. TandemTrainRider says:

    Alex Wrote:
    “…the Independent Transport Inquiry’s modelling indicated that the additional tracks across the harbour would be required by 2030/2040, based on current (2010) projections of population growth, employment and travel demand.

    And personally I don’t think you can label the additional lines installed by Bradfield as “redundant”. Bradfield was a visionary but by all accounts he was also a practical man … In any case I stand by my statement that removing the additional tracks from the bridge and the associated infrastructure was one of the greatest acts of planning vandalism that I have seen.”

    I looked up in the dictionary the precise meaning of “redundant” and the first suggestion was “superfluous”, which is most definitely *not* what I meant. I’m from an IT/engineering background and to me one of the other meanings takes precidense and was the intended interpretation of Bradfield’s work: where a “redundant design” is regarded as a mark of quality, capable of tollerating all sorts of unanticipated events.

    I think Bradfield’s SHB design parameters were exactly right based on the information and transport mode mix of the time. But by the 1950s I think it was already pretty clear neither the northern beaches nor the Eastwood line would be built in the subsequent 50 years. And the Nth Sydney tram network was probably the text book case for bus substitution at the time. None of the advantages of the rail format were there (except perhaps the tram terminal st Wynyard?), but there were substantial operating problems with indirect alignments, trams having to stop and couple counter weights to cope with the topography. There was also a clear and not really unreasonable demand for more private road space as private cars became affordable by most rather then the privilged. And on top of that the adverse consequences of wide spread car dependancy hadn’t manifest themselves anywhere in the world at that time.

    As much as I don’t like it, and as much as I *feel* like it was an act of public transport vandalism, thinking with my head and not my heart the decision to switch those bridge lanes from rail to road was the correct one for the time too.

  26. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Ray “With regard to freight train services from the Western and Northern Lines to the Illawarra Line, I didn’t mention an alternative option to re-route these services via the proposed Maldon to Dombarton Railway. However, this would be a significant detour and there is no guarantee that it will actually be constructed, ”

    I think a flyover at Tempe would be cheaper and a more likely option. But think it’s more likely there will be a temporal separation (all freight movements between 0100 and 0500). The 6 or 7 coalies from the Blue Mountains could down to Pt Kembla overnight and return via Robertson during the day.

    This is no doubt and issue, but on the scale of things I wouldn’t call it a major one.

  27. Ray says:

    I have noticed recently (from my café spot at Eastwood adjacent to the Main North) that there has been an increasing number of coal trains travelling to Newcastle, presumably from the western coalfields.

  28. Ray says:

    TTR, I don’t think a flyover at Tempe (presumably to the Illawarra Main) would solve the problem of freight access to Port Kembla from the West and North. After conversion of the Illawarra Local to Rapid Transit operation, the current Illawarra Main will be chockablock with Cronulla, Waterfall and South Coast Intercity services and I doubt if there will be any room for freight services, even in the off-peak. The option of running freight services only in the early hours of the day won’t be acceptable to freight forwarders, particularly when you consider that Port Kembla is going to be increasingly important as a flow over port for Port Botany, particularly for containers. I disagree that it wouldn’t be a major issue. If the Maldon to Dombarton railway does go ahead, then problem solved.

  29. Jed says:

    I seem to be late to the party on leaving a reply here, but on the subject of metros, has anyone considered the idea of a monorail for the northern beaches? You could route it along Spit road, all the way from North Sydney up to Collaroy, and there also seems to be space to continue it around the west edge of the CBD, out west to Parramatta, and then for it to act as a replacement for the Carlingford line. Basically a combination of the PERL, the west metro, and a variation on the north shore metro.

    I really wish I had that document, Rails, so I could double check the patronage projections on whether this is a good idea or not. The cost would certainly add up, as you could likely build the whole thing for less than the latest PERL estimate.

    There’s quite a few amusing bits and pieces to how this all fits together too, such as how the existing stations on the Carlingford line are almost exactly the right size for a monorail, even if they’re only half as long as you’d need for proper heavy rail.

  30. Jed says:

    And now, after triple checking my measurements at a higher zoom level, I find that the stations are actually about 20m short. Oh well.

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