CBD and SE Light Rail EIS released

Posted: November 14, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , ,

Light rail will produce $4bn in benefits, while its estimated travel times have been revised downward according to the project’s Environmental Impact Statement and associated Business Case. In addition, a cut and cover tunnel has been confirmed for Moore Park. But most of the content in these two documents had already been released to the public.

2013-11-14 Travel times tram vs bus

Travel times previously estimated at 24 minutes between either Randwick or Kingsford and Sydney’s Central Station have been revised to 15 minutes from Randwick and 18 minutes from Kingsford. The travel times had been criticised for being longer than existing travel times on buses, particularly considering the additional travel time required for passengers required to make a transfer from bus to tram (or vice versa) as part of the planned bus network redesign. However, the new estimated times mean that travel to Central would now be faster by tram than is currently the case by bus, and also more reliable given that trams will travel the whole way entirely segregated from traffic, while existing bus routes must share some or all of their trip with private vehicles and can thus end up delayed in general traffic. While trips from Randwick to Circular Quay will be faster by tram than bus, trips from Kingsford to Circular Quay may remain faster by bus.

Artist's impression of the Kingsford bus and light rail interchange. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Artist’s impression of the Kingsford bus and light rail interchange. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has also announced that light rail will cross Moore Park via a cut and cover tunnel. This was the preferred options for both TfNSW and in community consultations, but may result in a slightly longer journey as it requires an at grade crossing on South Dowling Street, whereas the viaduct option was a grade separated crossing over South Dowling St.

Most light rail users will be existing public transport users, but some will shift from car to tram. Click to enlarge. (Source: CSELR Business Case Summary)

Most light rail users will be existing public transport users, but some will shift from car to tram. Click to enlarge. (Source: CSELR Business Case Summary)

The Business Case finds that the light rail line will produce $4bn of benefits and cost $1.6bn to build, providing a Benefit:Cost ratio of 2.5 or $2.50 of benefit for every dollar invested in the project. It will also attract 76% of its patronage from existing or future public transport users, but also attract 17% of its patronage from car users, helping to take cars off the road.

  1. MrV says:

    Looks like goal seeking an answer to me.
    “What it’s quicker to go by bus?”, “Revise those estimates at once else we’ll look like fools”

    Ultimately the only thing that will give trams a time advantage is some sort of genuine traffic light priority, i.e. as soon as they approach an intersection at speed other traffic is stopped and they are given a green. Have heard little discussion on how or if this will be acheived, the experience will be painful if trams have to crawl from stop light to stop light, in addition to having stops for passengers. Sure they could stop near intersections and let off passengers while waiting for the lights, but without some sort of co-ordination/priority this would be an ad-hoc approach.

  2. Alex says:

    While I agree that traffic light priority is important, just having a dedicated corridor almost all the way into the city would probably make a significant contribution to reducing travel times.

    Obviously travel times need to be better than or at least competitive with those for existing bus services, but I think the most important improvement would be that a separated corridor will provide travel times that are more consistent, especially in peak hour, combined with increased capacity.

    Incidentally on the subject of capacity, at 45 metres the proposed CESLR vehicles are going to be quite long even by European standards (for example the longest configuration currently offered by CAF is 43 metres). Some of the material mentions coupling vehicles together for special events. These would be 90 metres long – is the intention to run these run only between Central and Moore Park?

  3. @Alex

    The only 90m long platforms will be at the Chalmers St and Moore Park stops, so those would be the only options for coupled trams. One of the project engineers I spoke to said that more likely it would be simultaneous boarding of 2 trams on these platforms, as 90m long vehicles could cause problems on Devonshire St by cutting off North-South traffic if (for example) stopped at a block that is shorter than 90m in length.

  4. Alex says:

    @Bambul, thanks.

    Running special trams from Central to Moore Park will be facilitated by the fact that there is only one stop between them to contend with, in Devonshire Street (the relative lack of stops between Randwick/Moore Park and the city is of course something else that will contribute to faster travel times for the CESLR).

    It’s going to be interesting to see how the mix between special and non-special trams is handled through this section, especially as Devonshire Street could be quite a significant stop in its own right on event nights.

  5. Greg Seeney says:

    There is a lot of really good detail on future Bus and Road network design in Technical Paper 1 on the DoP site. http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=6042

  6. @Greg

    Great tip off! Have been busy so wasn’t able to go through the EIS in detail myself. Will try to write up something on in today.

  7. Alex says:

    @Greg. Yes – thanks for the link.

    The the EIS Overview refers to the full EIS but instead of linking to it directly it refers to the overall major projects website instead (admittedly it’s not too difficult to find on that site).

    I do think however they could have put a little bit more detail in the EIS Overview, since that’s all that 90% of people will read. They will probably end up with a lot of submissions asking questions or raising issues about things not discussed in the overview which are actually covered in the full EIS.

  8. gseeney says:

    The Technical Papers are usually one of my first points of call after skimming the main document – there is often so much good detail in there. It has to remembered that is is usually directly from a consulting firm though without change by the department, so it is usually very ‘ideal world’.

    I recall in the technical papers for the SWRL there were even maps/plans for the extension to Badgerys Creek Airport (although I may be mistaken – that may have been the transport technical paper for the SW Growth Centre structure plan or something similar).

    I really hope this detail doesn’t lead to a beat up on people losing direct services to the city as I think there is a lot of positives in what they have proposed. The number one thing that needs to be pushed for is priority measures on cross regional links – it’s great to be planning to increase them, but they need to run reliably to be of use.

  9. Greg Seeney says:

    Bingo… just found this on the Wayback Machine showing a supposed map for an extended SWRL within the first few pages. Deceptively linked on the old Metro Strategy site as SW Road Report. Off topic I know, but wanted to share. http://web.archive.org/web/20060516180409/http://www.metrostrategy.nsw.gov.au/uploads/Road_Report_SW.pdf

  10. mich says:

    I am very suspicious of that SW Road Report where they reckon traffic lights are better than roundabouts.

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