Metro plan could cost more and Northern Beaches Rail Line in the planning

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , , ,

The NSW government has decided to push ahead with tunnels on the NWRL (North West Rail Link) too steep to accommodate double deck trains, despite internal documents showing it would not result in any savings when it comes to building a future Harbour rail crossing. The same documents also show that when the Federal Government offered funding for a line between Parramatta and Epping such a line was so far off transport planners’ radars that they did not expect it to be built until after 2036, suggesting it was less of a priority than 3 or 4 other lines that would have been built first, one of which may be a long mooted rail line to the Northern Beaches.

The Options

Documents uncovered as part of a Sydney Morning Herald investigation into the NWRL shed some light on the process by which the new line’s design was decided upon. A report dated 24th May 2012 proposes 3 options for integrating the NWRL into Sydney’s rail network, named “Suburban”, “Rebuild”, and “Growth”. All options involve first building the SWRL (South West Rail Link), followed by the NWRL.

2014-02-02 NWRL Options

Summary of the 3 options available for integrating the NWRL into Sydney’s rail network. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, pp. 8-11)

The Suburban option (cost: $9.8bn) is virtually a carbon copy of the Metropolitan Rail Expansion Plan (MREP) of 2005 that would see the building of the NWRL, SWRL, and a Second Harbour Rail Crossing that would fill the missing section to link the two via Macquarie Park and the Airport with a maximum capacity of 24 double deck TPH (trains per hour), though capacity constraints on the Airport Line tunnel would appear to initially cap this at 20TPH. This option would continue to use double deck trains and could retain direct services into the CBD from the NWRL’s opening in 2019, though capacity would likely be tight until the completion of a Second Harbour Rail Crossing in 2026 through the “Metro Pitt” alignment roughly underneath Pitt St. Until this occurred, some NWRL trains would terminate at Chatswood and Upper Northern Line trains would be re-routed via the City Circle rather than across the Harbour Bridge. Once the new line was completed, all stop trains from Revesby would operate via Sydenham and continue to feed into the City Circle, allowing 20TPH to operate on the new line to South-West Sydney (from a current capacity of 12TPH).

Map of the Suburban option. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 15)

Map of the Suburban option. A new Harbour crossing would link the NWRL to the SWRL, running double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 15)

The Rebuild option (cost: $10.6bn-$12.1bn) involved converting the Harbour Bridge to single deck operation, and was championed by Infrastructure NSW. Under this plan, the NWRL would operate with some or all trains terminating at Chatswood with either single or double deck trains. A new CBD line would then be constructed between Redfern and Wynyard (previously referred to as the CBD Relief Line), utilising the “Metro West” alignment roughly underneath Sussex St, to be completed by 2026. This would then be followed by converting the line across the Harbour Bridge to single deck operation, a process that would take 4 years and necessitate the closing of the City Circle between Central and Wynyard. This would allow cross-Harbour capacity to be increased to 28 single deck TPH, up from an existing 20 double deck TPH, by 2031.

Map of the Rebuild option. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 23)

Map of the Rebuild option. The Harbour Bridge would be upgraded to operate single deck trains, with the NWRL and North Shore Lines linking up with the Inner West and Bankstown Lines as well as Hurstville Station operating single deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 23)

The Growth option (cost: $9.9bn), ultimately selected as the preferred option by the NSW Government, involves the creation of a new single deck network via the construction of a new under the Harbour Rail Crossing. Under this option, the NWRL would be built by 2019 for initial operation with either single or double deck trains where some or all would terminate at Chatswood. A Second Harbour Crossing would then be built by 2026, creating a new line which would connect the NWRL to Hurstville and Lidcombe/Cabramatta via Bankstown running single deck trains with a maximum capacity of 30TPH. The line would initially operate at a maximum of only 20TPH due to network constraints at the outer ends of the line. However, the report suggests reaching 30TPH by extending it with a new Northern Beaches Line and by incorporating the all stops portion of the East Hills Line out to Revesby. As with the Suburban option, this would also allow 20TPH to operate to South-West Sydney.

Map of the Growth option.Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 30)

Map of the Growth option. A new Harbour crossing would connect the NWRL and a Northern Beaches Line to the Bankstown Line as well as Hurstville and Revesby Stations. The new line would operate single deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 30)

 The rebuild option was rejected on the basis that it was the most expensive, provided the smallest increase in capacity, and imposed the greatest disruption of the three. Ironically, this was meant to be the option that avoided the “prohibitively expensive” under the Harbour rail crossing, yet it ended up being the most costly as the CBD Relief Line, with a price tag of $5bn, was not that much cheaper than a new line that continued through to Chatswood, which costs $8bn, but necessitated expensive upgrades elsewhere on the network (costing anywhere from $4.3bn to $5.8bn).

The other two options cost almost the same, and provide similar levels of increases in capacity (single deck trains carry fewer passengers per train, but can operate more trains per hour than double deck trains, so the number of passengers per hour is comparable).

Steep and narrow tunnels

The Growth option included the possibility of building the NWRL with tunnels that were compatible with existing double deck trains, at a cost of $200m. This would allow some trains on the NWRL to continue past Chatswood through to the CBD from the day the NWRL opens. However, currently there is only enough spare capacity into the CBD on the Harbour Bridge to allow 1 train through in the busiest hour of the morning peak without removing services from either the Upper Northern Line and the North Shore Line.

It has previously been speculated that a steeper gradient allowed by single deck trains would allow for a cheaper and easier construction of an under the Harbour rail crossing, with stations closer to the surface at either side of the Harbour. This in turn would be where the real savings would be made, and there is little point in spending $200m to add virtually no new capacity for the few years until the new under the Harbour crossing was completed.

However, this does not appear to be supported by the costings in the leaked report, the cost of building the Harbour crossing for double deck trains is listed as $7,940m whereas for single deck trains it is $8,055m (Source: CBD Rail Capacity Programs Rail Futures Investigations, p. 34). While it does also provide $200m in savings for the NWRL, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian is on the record as saying that the cost of upgrading the Epping to Chatswood Line for single deck trains is more than $200m. This means single deck trains cost more in both the NWRL and second Harbour crossing stages.

In other words, it would appear that the steeper tunnels not only do not provide any savings, but they actually cost (slightly) more!

That means there must be another reason why the government has opted to go with the Growth option for single deck trains. One possibility could be that it allows for complete ATO (automatic train operation), otherwise known as driverless trains, along with all the benefits that come with it (see: here and here). These require an independent and segregated line to operate on, and only the Growth option initially running shuttles to Chatswood provide that opportunity.

Northern Beaches Rail Line vs Parramatta to Epping Rail Link

Also contained in the report is the assumption that transport planners were operating under for the Growth option that the next line to be built after the Second Harbour Crossing would be to the Northern Beaches. This is mentioned not just in the May 2012 report, but is also included on the maps in the report. The maps are dated 4 May 2010 and show the PERL (Parramatta to Epping Rail Link) as being built at some point after 2036, then operating as an independent shuttle.

Parramatta to Chatswood Rail Link

The Parramatta to Chatswood Rail Link was originally to go from Westmead to St Leonards. Only the Eastern portion, between Epping and Chatswood, was actually constructed in 2009, leaving the Western Parramatta to Epping portion unbuilt. (Source: Historical NSW Railway Timetables)

This means that just 3 months prior to the 11 August 2010 announcement that Federal Labor would fund the PERL, the then NSW Labor government had placed it so low on its list of transport projects it planned to build that it was not only below the NWRL and second Harbour crossing, but also behind a line that has not been seriously talked about since the 1970s.

This should emphasise the importance of putting good planning first, ahead of political considerations, when it comes to creating a good transport network. Unfortunately it appears the Labor Party tends to put its ideals in the right place in supporting public transport (importantly without the rabid anti-roads ideology of The Greens), but then implements it ineffectively by doing so through the prism of politics. As seen with the proposed funding of WestConnex, it’s not a one off occurrence.

  1. TandemTrainRider says:

    > That means there must be another reason why the government has opted to go with the
    > Growth option for single deck trains. One possibility could be that it allows for complete
    > ATO (automatic train operation), otherwise known as driverless trains, along with all the
    > benefits that come with it (see: here and here). These require an independent and segregated
    > line to operate on, and only the Growth option initially running shuttles to Chatswood provide
    > that opportunity.

    There is nothing about steep or narrow tunnels that enable driverless trains. The only possible reason was to prevent a future government/minister from reversing this decision. The feature that would (allegedly) save money on a second crossing is the specification of the trains.

    If they were so confident their plan was the right one, they’d never have felt the need to do this.

    The steep narrow tunnels add significant risks and costs to the project in other areas. 5% grades are up near the limit of what works with steel on steel. Steeper grades also mean either lower speeds or greater signal separations (or less safety I suppose), but also a likely lower maximum operating speed within the tunnels. And the trains themselves will need to be heavier, have more (and more expensive) traction motors and need more 1500v substations. A rubber tyre format, 25kvAC, or even just a Motor-ConvertibleTrailer (ie, add TMs to the trailers if and when the 5% grade capability materialises) format for the new rolling stock would be cheaper and more effective deliberate incompatibilties. I would not be surprised if the NWRL trains end up needing to be crewed, or even visually signalled, purely to cope with sand distribution. But I think it’s more likely the crash survivability (and thus either the maximum allowble speed … or safety standards) will need to be compromised.

    > Unfortunately it appears the Labor Party tends to put its ideals in the right place in
    > supporting public transport (importantly without the rabid anti-roads ideology of The Greens),
    > but then implements it ineffectively by doing so through the prism of politics.

    I think the same could be said too not justof the libs, but also of the NSW public service who are supposed to be above all that.

  2. Simon says:

    None of the options considered in this report are credible, at least to my way of thinking.
    A & C: The grade sep to allow the lower northern line to access the City Circle without conflicts is not needed and goes against sectorisation.
    B: Reconfiguration in the CBD is not needed in this option.

    In all scenarios I don’t get why you’d take Hurstville trains out of the ESR. There’s no need for that, unless you don’t plan on accessing the Sydney Terminal platforms from the Illawarra.

  3. Ray says:

    I agree with Simon, there is no need to for a major reconfiguration of the existing sectorisation pattern. The Lower Northern Line, and ultimately an integration with the Upper Northern Line, should continue to operate via the existing Suburban tracks through the CBD to North Sydney. It would be more appropriate if some of the Western Line services were diverted to the City Circle (although I would prefer that there was minimal crossover on the Central flying junctions).

    In response to TTR, who obviously has more insightful knowledge about the inner deliberations of the bureaucracy, there is a serious concern about the acceptance of advice from the rail planners at the coalface by the upper echelons.

  4. TandemTrainRider says:

    > A & C: The grade sep to allow the lower northern line to access the City Circle without conflicts is not needed and goes against sectorisation.

    Not sure what you are getting at here … if we’re talking about Strathfield then the grade separation already exists. If we’re talking about Mains to Suburbans flyovers then that’s a different issue unrelated to northern line to the City Circle.

  5. TandemTrainRider says:

    > I agree with Simon, there is no need to for a major reconfiguration of the existing sectorisation pattern.

    AFAIK (based on the leaks prior to the publication of Sydney’s Rail Future) plan B was the preferred option. That was the option they issued the detailed capacity planning tender for. But the results of that rather inconveniently showed there was no significant capacity benefit and it didn’t really solve the problem created by the NWRL.

    The “need” for the reconfig was based on the premis that the metro format would be higher capacity and only suitable for the shorter routes on the southern side. I haven’t seen anything on the practicalities of implementing those flyovers, but it would seem particularly tricky to do without extended simultaneous shutdown of sectors 2 and 3.

    Or put another way, the “need” to re-allocate routes between sectors is brought about by the desire to make the sectors incompatible. If you accept that the different formats offer sufficient (or any) benefits to the given routes – which I don’t – then there is a need for those flyovers.

  6. Simon says:

    TTR, what I’m getting at is the suggestion of a suburban to locals (heading inbound, vice versa on the outbound) flyover to allow the northern line to access the city circle. That is not needed or helpful.

    Essentially they want to unwind over a decade of work to separate the lines for no real reason.

    With option B, if they just didn’t do the high risk reconfiguration part there would be plenty of unlocked capacity and not much risk. Doesn’t seem like they think that way.

  7. Rails says:

    I think you have to keep in mind that the costings in that report are all preliminary but my understanding is that the benefit of the Single Deck trains in regards to the second harbour rail crossing using Metro Pitt (Metro West is a whole different ball game) is not all about the tunneling cost, Single Deck allows more stations and for those stations to be close to the surface. Due to the grade the Double Deck option stations would be so deep that you would rely on lifts only to access the surface. I believe they had the same problem with the CBD Metro actually but that was caused by the path it took from the NW and the station at Barangaroo.

    I guess you then also have the issue of the grade for the Spit for the Northern Beaches line that was clearly always part of this design. Combine the NWRL, the second harbour rail crossing and the Northern Beaches lines grade requirements and you can see where they were going with this. Add to this the fact that they wanted a train line that would have more than 20 tph to support multiple branches through one trunk and facilitate a corridor that has many major stops all along its route and I can see why they made the choice they did.

    Now the 20 tph limit is where I think they came unstuck. I think that report (and the emails that were printed along with it by SMH) show that TNSW thought that with ATO/ATP and new signaling they could raise the 20 tph limit of the Western/ North Shore line to 24 tph. This seems to have been proven to not be possible. That gives them a problem because they thought that would give them (along with a new flyover at Central) enough capacity for the Northern and Western lines using existing infrastructure. It seems once they worked out 24 tph was a no go they were too far down the line with this plan. Thus we now have the upper Northern line terminating at Central… That is the issue they need to resolve.

    Although one benefit did come out of that, they moved away from the idea of the dogs breakfast that was shown in this plan to the idea of proper sectorisation, With the current plan the only trains that seem to be violating sectors are the 4 tph for the lower Northern line that swap with the 4 tph Blue Mountains trains to terminate at Central. Whether they kept this configuration when the V sets are replaced is another question altogether, as I have said before I think in their minds the Northern line as a whole would eventually run into Central to terminate but that is not important for this discussion.

    Regarding the Hurstville line separation, that is for a few reasons but I believe they do intend on running all the H sets into the ESR, so as follows to terminate at Bondi Junction:

    South Coast – 5 tph
    Waterfall – 5 tph
    Cronulla – 10 tph

    Total: 20 tph

    The Single Deck take over the locals from Hurstville straight to the CBD and through to the North Shore, helping to relieve Town Hall and creating more capacity on this line. They join the Bankstown line at Sydnenham (12 tph) and they talked about the Revesby starters (10 tph) eventually using this same line to the CBD via reconfiguration of the Wolli Creek Junction to allow a full 20 tph for the Campbelltown and SWRL branches via the Airport. I am not sure about this last one myself.

  8. TandemTrainRider says:

    Just noticed something else about Scenario A: All to Reveseby via Strathfield, Xpress via Airport means new flyovers @ Wolli Creek, or rebuilding the local stations, or the sectors crossing each other at grade.

  9. Simon says:

    It means an at grade cross at Sydenham, not Wolli Creek doesn’t it? All the Illawarra trains will be on the eastern track pair at Wolli Creek in that scenario. Perhaps I don’t follow you?

  10. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Simon, yes, and at grade junction at Sydenham, but on the same sector.
    The quaded part of the East Hills line has island platforms on the inner two tracks. The out tracks are express without platforms. At Wolli Ck the inner tracks dive into the Airport line, the outer tracks become merge with the Illarawa Locals (western pair) then head to Sydenham.

    So for Campbo – Express via Airport and Revesby – all stops – via Sydenham, the outers and inners need to swap over between Turrella & Wolli Creek. It’s a non flat junction now, but it’s all on sector 2. Under the scenario we’re discussing they are two different sectors.

    I think the issue is my use of the word “cross”. In this case I meant trains travelling in the same direction having to switch tracks, “Crossing” from one sector to the other at grade.

  11. TandemTrainRider says:

    > Now the 20 tph limit is where I think they came unstuck. I think that report (and the emails that
    > were printed along with it by SMH) show that TNSW thought that with ATO/ATP and new
    > signaling they could raise the 20 tph limit of the Western/ North Shore line to 24 tph.

    I think this interpretation is backwards. Based on the selective “run-the-idea-up-the-flag-pole” leaks I think the gvt’s preferred option right up until May 2012 was the “Dick Day Plan”: (From SMH in mid-late 2011: here</a))

    In November 2011 the document "Rail Options for Sydney Greater Netropolitan Area" was published, which was 2 basic options: a WEX and/or a 2nd crossing to go from 3 to either 4 or 5 sectors, and how the sectors might look, and how this *might* achieve a 3 tier system. Basically it suggest they'd need 5 sectors to do 3-tier. The options being discussed in the recently leaked report are slightly more refined version of these.

    In Feb 2012 TfNSW issues a tender for a detailed capacity passenger and train planning model covering sector 3 from Chatswood to Central. The final report from that tender was dated July 2012, but clearly elements of it were being used as early as May to produce those eMails sent to Rodd Staples. The terms of the tender were clearly about analyising the Dick Day plan, and were probably intended to show the expected outcome: SD trains with platform screens would deliver the requried 27000 tph.

    That report – while tactful enough not to state it explicitly – it's clear that this modeling showed SD trains we're not going to meet the required targets. 28-30tph SD was required but unlikely to be achieved given the station and train limitations. 24tph in the existing format was/is more achievable and would deliver the required capacity.

    I'm guessing the early versions of NWRL as a shuttle were about phase 1 of the Dick Day plan: implement the NWRL, then convert North Shore and bridge to that format.

    But by late June early July it was clear their own comissioned advice was telling them it wasn't workable. But the deadline for the "Transport Master Plan" was upon them, so they had little choice but to bolt on the 2nd harbour crossing to their plan, with the "up to 24tph" (reminds me of MTM NBN, "up to" 25mbps) on sector 3.

  12. Simon says:

    Yes TTR. I guess that’s an issue with plans A & C. Perhaps there’s additional platform faces planned from Turrella to Padstow. I guess I didn’t look that closely once I saw how preposterous they all are.

  13. Rails says:


    I agree that they were trying to avoid the cost of a second harbour crossing that came with the 2005 MREP by converting the existing crossing to SD, that’s no secret, there is a section on this in the November 2011 Rail options document. However I couldn’t say when they changed this plan to include the Second Harbour Rail Crossing for SD trains like it existed for the DD trains. I am aware that the cost of the WEX/ CBD Relief Line via Metro West for the DD trains blew out at some stage and maybe that had a lot to do with it.

    I vaguely recall that I have read a report from TNSW (cant remember which one, it may have been the tender report you mention?) that stated that the issue with that conversion ended up being 1. they worked out they could not even hit 28 tph let alone 30 tph, 26 tph or less might be the limit. Not enough trains, especially if you were under the impression you could run 24 tph DD across the bridge. 2. there were serious risks with implementing the Cityrail conversion with large scale shut downs a distinct possibility. Not worth the risk in the end. I thought this when that plan was first floated, (under the previous Government I believe?). However what thus May 2012 plan revealed was that even running the Single Deck line towards the inner west was considered too risky, that changes things a lot regarding relieving Sector 3 but with 24 tph for the Western/ Northern/ North Shore lines it could work.

    Where I got the “backwards” idea regarding the 24 tph was from the email from May 10th 2012 regarding the fact that certain TNSW staff were still of the opinion that you could run 24 tph at this point in time “within the busiest parts of the network as a result of the efficiency program”. The Document released on the 24th of May 2012 does not have the Upper Northern Line terminating at Central and does include the Central flyover so things certainly changed before “Sydney’s Rail Future” was released. It seems to me that they were running through many different options right up until the release of that document and thus the report everyone is talking about is an older draft. I would imagine there would be newer documents that would detail how they came to their conclusions for the final release but as an average punter I wouldn’t speculate.

  14. TandemTrainRider says:

    > I vaguely recall that I have read a report from TNSW (cant remember which one, it may have
    > been the tender report you mention?) that stated that the issue with that conversion ended up
    > being
    > 1. they worked out they could not even hit 28 tph let alone 30 tph, 26 tph or less might be the
    > limit. Not enough trains, especially if you were under the impression you could run 24 tph DD
    > across the bridge.
    > 2. there were serious risks with implementing the Cityrail conversion with large scale shut
    > downs a distinct possibility. Not worth the risk in the end

    I have a similar memory, but I’m just not interested enough to find it!

    IIRC it’s in either “Sydney’s Rail Future” or the Master Plan that states one of the key virtues of the plan was it does not make any major disruptive changes to the existing cityrail network.

    Having looked through the Future C proposed staging process I can see why the politicians were shitting themselves over that one. 4 years with City Circle trains terminating at Wynyard while they rebuild Town Hall!

    That actually smells a lot like the public service trying to talk the politicians out of it :-).

  15. Rails says:

    I can see where you’re coming from regarding the 4 year shut down, I thought that seemed excessive! One benefit I hope to see from the second harbour rail crossing is that with stations at Chatswood, St Leonards, Victoria Cross, the CBD and Central/ Redfern (plus CBD light Rail) you may be able to see the short term shut down of the existing line to rebuild the CBD stations for modern fire standards and better passenger movements. It would still be a very disruptive shut down but surely that could be completed in a few months.

  16. TandemTrainRider says:

    I really doubt we’re going to see a second crossing in our lifetimes.

    After re-reading those e-Mails, the preferred option was definitely what (roughly) ended up being Sydney’s Rail Future by early May 2011. Plans A & B were previous preferred options being MREP and the Dick Day plan (with or without WEX) presumably for comparason purposes.

    It’s interesting that MREP came out very favourably in cost terms compared with the other plans analysed.

    A few comments on the staging and Wolli Creek:
    – For reasons unclear to me, the East Hills line locals are taken off the MREP sector, requiring a great deal of capital works.
    – Perhaps brought about by the “requirement” for Leppingon trains to run via the Airport to cater for the likely extension to Badgery’s Creek airport.

    As Simon pointed out, most of the scenarios “required” a great deal of capital works, but in most cases these works were to switch different routes to different sectors. For the most part, those works are only required *if* the sectors are going to operate different and incompatible format vehicles. If you use a ubiquitous format, none of that is needed. This is of course why we ended up with the hybrid format we have now, it was determined by the nature of the routes, not the other way around.

    Sandy Thomas suggested it was the “discovery” that metro trains over the bridge would not achieve the required capacity that put the kabosh on Plan B. That is certainly the case if you apply the capacity models in the Douglas Economics modeling. It says something similar about 24tph, though not quite as convincingly. Basically, if you properly allow for crowding on the trains and platforms, the city stations need to be upgraded to cope with the desired load.

  17. Rails says:

    I cant see why we wont see a second harbour crossing actually, its not a huge reach, about $8 billion or so, about the same cost as the NWRL. If they privatize the electricity network we will get it earlier. I seem to recall that MREP always had the SWRL (Leppington) connecting to the NWRL as a new sector taking in the East Hills stops thus freeing up the Sydneham route for express Camplbelltown trains. What are the “great deal” of capital works you’re referring to?

  18. MrV says:

    Driverless trains are the way to go, the technology is at least 40 yrs old already.
    I would have preferred the ANZAC line to what they are doing, yes expensive but it opens up more network connection possibilties and would greatly have helped Victoria Road, whilst still serving the same area the NWRL does.
    Dicking around converting existing infrastructure is a waste of money in my opinion.

  19. Ray says:

    Yes I agree MrV. It’s a waste of time converting the existing network to an incompatible metro system. I don’t know of any other commuter systems in the world which have actually successfully done this. But perhaps someone can enlighten me. It’s a pity that the leaked report didn’t actually also consider Option D, which was a completely separate metro network, which I would have supported.

    Although I would also support the previously proposed Anzac Line, the problem is that the multiple under harbour crossings made it unviable. Light Rail might be the future for this corridor, which could be integrated with the Western Sydney Light Rail project proposed by Parramatta City Council. .

  20. MrV says:


    Yes those underwater crossings could have been a pain, however I often thought the last ones White Bay/Pyrmont Bay could be avoided by taking a short detour around via Glebe which would have provided a station near to Sydney Uni/Broadway, possibly Annandale/Leichardt, then continue the line into the city, say metro/pitt corridor, or perhaps another cross city route(?) connecting into St James. The additional travel time would be minimal and would also give transfer options to bus/lightrail.

    The other thing is why when the Casino was getting redeveloped didn’t they make provision for the station underneath, similarly with Barangaroo development, there surely is going to be a need for an additional station somewhere there, at present Wynard is expected to take the entire load(?).

    Maybe my ideas are fanciful, but does the idea of converting of already built infrastructure take into account the cost of having them shutdown while the work is carried out? At least with a new line you can open it up in sections with absolutely minimal disruption to the existing network. This is the approach you see around the world, and I believe they do it this way for a reason.

  21. Ray says:

    Your ideas aren’t fanciful MrV. You are at least trying to think outside the square. The Iron Cove and Parramatta River crossings would be unavoidable, but it could be possible to bypass the Johnston’s Bay and Darling Harbour underwater crossings if the line crossed the city further south in the vicinity of Town Hall, linking up with a future metro line to the south-east via Taylor Square. This would mean that Pyrmont and Barangaroo would also have to bypassed, but that’s the compromise. Barangaroo could possibly be serviced by the proposed West Metro Line in the future.

    The White Bay Station would no longer be justifiable in the light of the government’s decision to retain the White Bay/Glebe Island precinct for port services (which I agree with). However, that wouldn’t preclude a stabling and maintenance facility being established in the former Rozelle goods yards as previously proposed. The line from Rozelle could skirt around Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays before crossing the city.

    It’s all academic now, but I initially supported the North West Metro plan, principally because it provided the developing Victoria Rd corridor with a high capacity public transport link and most importantly, because it was a completely separate system to the existing rail network. My only misgivings of late are the cost of the underwater crossings and its inappropriateness as a high capacity metro system servicing low density outer suburbs. Perhaps building the line from the city only as far as Epping, interchanging with the original NWRL proposal might have been the go.

  22. Ray says:

    After having had the time to study the various options for Sydney’s Rail Future as outlined in the leaked emails, it seems to me that Option C (Growth) has some merit. The only caveats I would put on it is whether single deck operation would actually provide greater line capacity compared with double deck, when we’re talking about a new line with upgraded signalling and station design which would benefit both modes and the absence of provision for Southern NSW Trainlink and Illawarra Line freight services.

    Depending on the seated/standing configuration for single deck stock, double deck could potentially provide the same line capacity with a lesser frequency (30tph v 24-26tph). However, we don’t know on what basis, assessing either single train or overall line capacity, the government asserts that single deck provides greater capacity. The release of reports on which their assessments were based would help to clarify this. From my reading of these leaked reports, it appears that they were prepared on the basis that single and double deck operation would be compatible and double deck operation, with a lesser frequency, could quite easily be substituted for single deck if the same line capacity could be maintained. The only downside is that sectorisation is somewhat compromised.

    This has now morphed into a stand alone single deck metro operation, including conversion of parts of the existing network, more suitable for privatisation, which would be incompatible with the rest of the network.

    Some interesting observations are, that the City Circle outer (and the inner in reverse) run through to the Airport Line exclusively, with no direct connection to the Illawarra Lines. Would this make Central platforms 20 and 22 redundant? There is also no apparent provision for Southern NSW Trainlink services to access the East Hills Line, as they now do under the new timetable. Illawarra Line freight has been ignored.

  23. Greg Seeney says:

    The leaked report does state that the SD rolling stock procured for the NWRL must be capable of safely running concurrently with freight trains due to the shared track between Hurstville and Sydenham. It also states that new rolling stock should be capable of running concurrently with DD stock to allow it’s early introduction on the Bankstown line before the CBD link is complete, presumably to prevent the need to procure a whole heap of new DD stock which would before redundant as they retire older stock such as the C, K and perhaps even T stock.

  24. Simon says:

    Nice catch, Greg. One wonders about two points with that:
    a) if they can do that, why not keep the upper northern line running through the ECRL
    b) doesn’t that undo the entire purpose of having a separate organisation to run it?

  25. Greg Seeney says:

    My guess is that underground stations will have platform screen doors, but the above ground will probably not (although low gates would probably be beneficial!)

    Who knows if they will go ahead with running SD on the Bankstown line early, but if they do I’m sure that they can still figure out a way to get to the desired end state of automated operations and separate operator. They may hand that line over early for instance with shared running around the City Circle, or perhaps hand the trains over at the completion of the CBD link. Either way, as long as it’s technically possible, everything else is just politics and negotiation. I would suggest that if it does go down that path the trains would be delivered with drivers cabs but be capable of automatic operation when the time comes, much like the S Stock being delivered on the sub surface lines in London right now.

  26. TandemTrainRider says:

    > The only caveats I would put on it is whether single deck operation would actually provide greater line capacity compared with double deck ..

    I am completely convinced SD ops can only match the current DD line capacity in the most extreme circumstances – namely 4 doors per car and no seating.

    After reading about the Comenge “JCar” experiments (a thread was posted on RailPage a few months ago) I’m equally convinced an extra 5% line capacity could be squeezed from the existing format with a few minor tweeks: specifically 4m wide doors and a double width stair case to one of the decks to create 4 channels per door vs the current 3.

  27. TandemTrainRider says:

    > Who knows if they will go ahead with running SD on the Bankstown line early, but if they do I’m
    > sure that they can still figure out a way to get to the desired end state of automated operations and
    > separate operator. They may hand that line over early for instance with shared running around the
    > City Circle, or perhaps hand the trains over at the completion of the CBD link.

    Given the current thinking, they’re much more likely to run it as a shuttle out of Sydenham :-).

  28. Ray says:

    We’re talking about two separate operating scenarios here. From my reading of the reports, I believe the initial intention was to integrate the NWRL with the existing network and run single deck trains over it and ultimately extend it via a new cross harbour tunnel to other sections of the network south of the harbor ( as well as the Northern Beaches). Single and double deck operation would be compatible, so they could potentially interchange with each other. This is the main reason why I thought this proposal had some merit, not that I’m convinced it needed to have single deck trains to increase the line capacity on a new upgraded line.

    There is no prospect of running the now proposed stand alone Rapid Transit trains operating on the NWRL on other sections of the Sydney Trains network before any conversion as they will be completely incompatible with existing double deck operation. With automatic operation for the Rapid Transit, it would be impossible to integrate with the existing system. Regrettably, that will also mean Southern NSW Trainlink services will be unable to access the East Hills Line and Illawarra Freight will have to be re-routed via the Southern Line through Moss Vale, or possibly a future Maldon to Dombarton link.

    In answer to Simon, I think the reason why they didn’t keep running the Upper Northern Line via the ECRL (under their initial proposals) was to allow for the additional traffic from a future Northern Beaches Line, which would bring the new cross harbour and CBD link up to its full capacity. From my observation, it wasn’t intended to have a separate organisation running the NWRL at the time these reports were prepared and it came later when the government decided to go down the privatisation path because their submission for funding was rejected (or at least deferred) by Infrastructure Australia pending receipt of more detailed information. Infrastructure Australia offered to have further discussions with the NSW Government, but like spoiled brats, Barry O’Farrell and Gladys Berejiklian picked up their bat and ball and said “stuff you”, we’ll do it our own way. That was the turning point. Up until then, it was always the intention for the NWRL to be a double deck operation integrated with the existing network, even if some services had to terminate at Chatswood. So they went to Plan “B”, which is what we have today.

    Just as an aside, in the light of these leaked reports becoming available to the public, I have to retract some of my criticisms of the future operating patterns in neglecting expansion of services from the Northern, Western and Southern Lines. Now that these reports paint a more detailed picture of how a new CBD link and the re-configured Central flying junctions would operate (I’m referring to the original proposal, not Plan “B”), I think it could work. Apart from the new cross harbour/CBD link, the only new infrastructure required is a flyover on the upper level from the Up Main to the Up Suburban tracks between Redfern and Central leading to Platform 16 and a similar grade separation on the lower level from Platform 18 between the Down Suburban and Down Main. This allows the capacity of the Mains tracks from the Western Line to be maximized without having to cross over to and from the Suburban tracks at Eveleigh. This in turn frees up capacity on the Suburban tracks to allow up to 8tph from the Northern Line to be re-routed to the City Circle. The crossover from the suburban to local tracks (leading to and from the City Circle) already exists on the upper and lower levels of the flying junctions. According to the sample train plan in the report, 8 train paths from the Northern Line on the suburban tracks would merge with 12 train paths from the Inner West Local (Platform 17) proceeding to the City Circle and 8 train paths from the Western Main would merge via the new flyover with the residual 12 train paths on the suburban tracks (Platform 16). This increases the Western Line services from 16tph to 20tph (excluding Intercity) and the Northern Line from 6tph (2 of which terminate at Central) to 8tph via City Circle. Unfortunately the South Line misses out, but perhaps this could be balanced with some services being transferred from the Western and Northern Lines.

  29. Simon says:

    Mess with the flying junctions hey Ray? A high risk, low return project.

    Even with the northern beaches line, the second harbour crossing will be likely to be less than 50% utilised, with a significant amount of room for more passengers over the bridge. There must be another reason. *cough* ineptness *cough*.

  30. Ray says:

    I don’t think a proposed flyover from the Mains to Suburban tracks at Central would necessarily cause a great deal of disruption to the flying junctions. Certainly nothing like what was proposed under the Rail Futures B scheme. This is obviously a response to the failed WEX scheme. I haven’t seen any detail of the actual construction (if indeed there is any) but I would assume most of it would be in Sydney Yard in the now large vacant site previously occupied by the eastern car sheds. A relatively simple connection could be made from the Up Suburban (Yard) over the Down Suburban (Yard) to the Up Suburban Line on the upper level of the flying junctions and an at grade connection from the Down Suburban Line on the lower level of the flying junctions to the Down Suburban (Yard). It needn’t interfere with any other part of the flying junctions.

    Whether the second harbor crossing will be less than 50% utilised is debatable, when the report suggests 18tph from the NWRL and 12tph from a new Northern Beaches Line bringing it to its maximum capacity of 30tph (compatible single deck operation, not metro). I will admit though 18tph seems excessive for the NWRL. Assuming the integrated option had proceeded, perhaps there might have been room for the Upper Northern Line on this link with a bit of tweeking.

  31. TandemTrainRider says:

    > I will admit though 18tph seems excessive for the NWRL.
    As the trains will probably only have 250 seats each, then that won’t be a problem :-) !

  32. Greg Seeney says:

    The flying junctions modification would be pretty much an exact mirror of what was done on the other side for the Airport line – but with a bit of extra track left in. It shouldn’t be too hard and I’m surprised it wasn’t completed years ago when they were regularly mixing services between Suburbabns and Mains. Now that they have gone down the sectorisation path I don’t think it will happen, which seems to be confirmed by the final Sydney Rail Future document indicating Northern line trains will be heading to Sydney Terminal.

    Responding to the 250 seats comment – if they are laid out in the same way as the new X’Trapolis cars in Melbourne (2 x 2 seating and 3 doors per car) then with trains and cars of our length we will end up with approx. 510 seats per train. People are getting too hung up on the ‘Metro’ thing. This is a train – a single deck train, that can run frequently, has wide stop spacing, and has plenty of seats. Things don’t have to fit into 2 discrete categories of ‘Metro’ or ‘Suburban’, railways are made up of different attributes, and being single deck is just one of them in this case.

  33. Simon says:

    50% more trains from the NW as compared to the Northern Beaches, even though there is currently about 50% more people/PT users from the Beaches! I love Transport for NSW like I love reading Dilbert, although the latter is intentionally funny. Perhaps they are assuming a scenario after a number of years of growth.

    Ray, the mains to suburbans grade sep is only marginally useful without being supplemented by a suburbans to locals isn’t it? Where’s the benefit in messing with these things? You agreed in reply 3, but now seem to have changed your tune. Also in that reply you said to send some of the Western Line around the City Circle; is that passing Strathfield 7 & 8? Haven’t the South Line been shafted enough?

  34. Greg Seeney says:

    Suburbans to locals is already there as part of the flying junctions – the Mains to Suburbans would come in at a point that allows a Main -> Suburban and Suburban -> Local movement to happen at the same time, which is exactly what they propose in the report (with 8tph from the Northern line crossing to the Locals to head to the City Circle outer while 8tph from the Western line cross from the Mains to the Suburbans to take their place and achieve maximum CBD rail utilisation.

    Great plan when it goes well, but would be awful when it doesn’t. I think this is why they have gone with Northern into Sydney Terminal in Sydney Rail Future – the flyover plan goes against sectorisation too much.

  35. TandemTrainRider says:

    1) I agree extending the Flying Junctions to the Mains is an easily staged build (infinitely simper than a sector 2/3 cross) Ideally it *could* flatten the junction into ST too but …

    2) I also think it’s a project of at best maginal benefit and would right royally screw up sectorisation. Capacity is not the issue on the main west east of Strathfield, using it effectively is.

    3) Re 250 seats … I was joking :-) !!!

  36. Simon says:

    Ok Greg. I still dispute the value of the cross at the flying junctions.

  37. Simon says:

    Oh, the other point on the Mains-Suburbans crossover at the flying junctions is that it assumes that you won’t be running trains from via Sydenham into Sydney Terminal, or you are happy to interfere with them.

  38. Ray says:

    Simon, in my earlier post I did oppose reconfiguring the sectorisation pattern, but after studying the report further, I thought there was some merit in maintaining services through the CBD for the Northern Line, albeit via the City Circle, and avoid terminating them at Central. I still believe every major suburban line should continue to have access through the CBD via either the bridge or City Circle and a way has to be found to accommodate them, even more so with a new CBD link.

    Your query about the suburbans to locals connection on the flying junctions has already been answered by Greg. In fact I can recall in years past (too many to remember) when Northern Line trains did cross over from the suburbans to the locals on the flying junctions to access the City Circle. As far as my suggestion goes for some Western Line services to cross over to the City Circle instead of Northern Line services, my intention was that they would also cross from the suburbans to the locals at Central. They would obviously pass through platforms 4 & 6 at Strathfield on the suburban tracks. The locals on platforms 7 & 8 would not be affected.

    However, I acknowledge that none of this is perfect and I’m going to bore everyone with my suggested optimal network for the inner city.

    First of all, some essential pre-requisites for this plan are that is based on a completely integrated network exclusively operated by double deck trains, including the North West Rail link and future Northern Beaches Line and the sextup between Sydenham and Erskineville being completed to separate the Bankstown Line from the Illawarra lines. A new CBD rail link and cross harbour tunnel is also obviously included.

    I can’t show this plan diagrammatically, but bear with me and I’ll try and explain it as simply as I can.

    Western Main

    New underground link from vicinity of Eveleigh (as per WEX) to new CBD link connecting with unused Central platforms 26 & 27, continuing along the Metro Pitt corridor to cross harbour tunnel. Whether it would be feasible to connect this underground link with the unused Redfern platforms, I’m not sure, but otherwise construct new deeper platforms.

    Operating pattern would be 16tph (8tph from Emu Plains/Penrith plus 8 Intercity from Newcastle/Central Coast and Blue mountains) to Eveleigh and then the 8 suburban trains would divert to the new CBD link and the Intercity trains continue to Sydney Terminal.

    Western Suburban

    No change to current configuration. Proceeds through CBD to North Sydney.

    Operating pattern would be 20tph (12tph from St Marys/Richmond Line plus 8tph from Northern Line).

    Western Local

    No change to current configuration. Proceeds to City Circle Outer.

    Operating pattern would be 12tph (All stations from Homebush and Liverpool express).

    Bankstown Line

    New tracks Sydenham to Erskineville to merge with current Illawarra Local (effectively then becoming Bankstown Line) beyond Erskineville and proceeds to City Circle Inner.

    Operating pattern would be 16tph (All stations from Lidcombe and Liverpool express). They would split at the flying junctions, with 8tph crossing to the City Circle Outer, merging with 12tph from the Western Local (total 20tph) and 8tph continuing onto the City Circle Inner, merging with the Airport Line (12tph).

    Illawarra Local

    Would merge with Illawarra Main beyond Erskineville providing access to Illawarra Dive to Sydney Terminal and then proceed underground to link with tunnel from Western Main leading to new CBD link. It would cater for express services from the East Hills Line and South Coast. Cambelltown and Leppington on the SWRL would connect directly with the NWRL and Northern Beaches via the new CBD link, creating a new sector (a modified MREP). South Coast and Southern NSW Trainlink services would continue to have access to Sydney Terminal via the Illawarra Dive.

    Operating pattern would be 20tph (16tph from Campelltown/Leppington via East Hills express tracks plus 4 intercity from the South Coast). The East Hills Line trains could also include a mix of all stations services from Revesby to allow for services from a possible Badgerys Creek Airport to run via the Airport Line.

    Once the connection to the new CBD link from the Western Main merges with the Illawarra Local, train frequency is then increased to 24tph (double deck), with 8tph from the Western Main and 16tph from the Illawarra Local (East Hills Line).

    Illawarra Main

    This would continue to service Cronulla, Waterfall and Hurstville all stations through to the Eastern Suburbs Line from Erskineville as it does at present. A flyover from the Illawarra Local to the Illawarra Main south of Wolli Creek (as recommended in the Christie Report) would help alleviate crossing conflicts between these lines.

    Operating pattern would be 20tph through to Bondi Junction.

    Airport Line

    Airport Line would continue to feed into the City Circle as at present. Junction arrangements at Wolli Creek could possibly be modified to allow for the flexibility of all East Hills Line services proceeding to the city via either Sydenham or the Airport.

    Operating pattern would be 12tph to merge with 8tph from the Bankstown Line at Central.

    I have not bothered about considering the effects of conversion of parts of the network to metro operation, because apart from the fact that I’m not convinced it would provide a better outcome in terms of overall line capacity, it would remove all of that flexibility that is now inherent in the system. I also believe that running 24 DD tph on the new line through the city could match the capacity of 30 SD tph.

    I would welcome you critique.

  39. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Ray, what happens north of the harbour?

  40. Ray says:

    TTR, I was only focusing on the approaches to Central on the city side, but in the North, the Suburban to North Shore Line would be much as it is today, with 20tph to/from Gordon, Hornsby and Berowra. The new CBD and cross harbour line as I said would be 24tph to/from the Northern Beaches Line and the NWRL. The split between them could be 12tph each or some other proportion depending on patronage. The Upper Northern Line could also potentially be diverted back down the ECRL (now NWRL) again, freeing up paths between Strathfield and Central on the Suburbans for additional Western or South Line services. Hence my comment about flexibility being inherent in an integrated system.

  41. Simon says:

    I disagree with dividing the Western Line’s services. They should all go into the new tunnel.

    Perhaps there’s no reason why the bureaucracy have never proposed to connect the Western Line with Metro Pitt, perhaps there is.

    And why 8tph from Newcastle/Central Coast? Are we removing Coast via Shore?

  42. Simon says:

    Oh right, 8tph is including Blue Mountains.

  43. Ray says:

    Simon, whilst I understand your suggestion that all Western Line services should be diverted to a new CBD link to maximize capacity on the Western Line approaches, which under my scenario would be 28tph including those from the Northern line, the CBD link would be notionally limited to 24tph with double deck operation. Then what happens to the Suburban tracks through to the North Shore? I’m sure you’re not suggesting that the residual 4tph would merge with other services from sector 2, which would destroy your whole argument about sectorisation which you champion (and which I agree with).

    The capacity of all lines feeding into the CBD is limited by the capacity of the inner city lines to handle this load. Under my strategy, excluding Intercity services to Sydney Terminal, that would be 8tph from the Western Main to new CBD link, 20tph from the Western Suburban to North Shore, 12tph from the Western Local to City Circle outer, 16tph from the Bankstown Line (split between the City Circle Inner and Outer), 16tph from the Illawarra Local to new CBD link, 20tph from Illawarra Main to Eastern Suburbs Line and 12tph from the Airport Line to the City Circle Inner. From the north side of the harbour it is more straightforward, with 20tph from the North Shore Line and 24tph from the new cross harbour/CBD link.

    An important consideration which you have overlooked, is that a prime advantage of a new CBD link with the East Hills Line (from Campbelltown/SWRL) is to minimize the interchange of passengers at the busiest CBD stations (Central, Town Hall and Wynyard) by providing a direct service to the North Shore and Macquarie Park employment centres. That would not be available under your proposal, only reinforcing the congestion at these stations. Interchange at Central for example, under my proposal, would be split between cross platform transfers (platforms 16 & 17) between Suburban, Local and Bankstown City Circle Outer and upper and lower platform transfers (platforms 20, 21, 24 & 26) between the Bankstown City Circle Inner, Airport Line, Illawarra Main/Eastern Suburbs and new CBD link to North Shore (and Northern Beaches).

    You are correct in your acknowledgement that 8tph on the Western Main for Intercity services includes the Blue Mountains (4tph each from the Blue Mountains and Newcastle/Central Coast). It is unlikely that additional Blue Mountains services would be required in the short to medium term, and Newcastle/Central Coast services could potentially be increased, but that would be limited by the capacity of the Northern Line from Hornsby to Strathfield. The full quad from Epping to Strathfield would enhance this capacity. You also have to consider that there is a limit to the number of Intercity services that can be accommodated at Sydney Terminal in the peak, which also includes those from the South Coast. I don’t know what that capacity is, but perhaps someone can confirm it. Some of the South Coast services can be diverted to Bondi Junction, indeed as they are now. In the meantime, the option would still be available to run some of the Newcastle/Central Coast services to the city via the North Shore line.

    Again I stress, a completely integrated network provides FLEXIBILITY where service patterns on different lines can be adjusted without compromising overall network efficiency.

  44. Simon says:

    I agree that the Western Line has 20tph, which may be the limit of the new tunnel. I’d prefer that the interurbans were kicked out, if that is necessary. As for the 4tph from the Central Coast, I’d say they should be moved around to via Shore if a new harbour crossing is implemented.

    It may be superior to go with less, longer trains.

    Regarding your comments “a prime advantage” is the interchange etc., What nonsense! There’s a reason no quality operator in the world thinks like that. It’s far more important to just have a single set of stations in the CBD and avoid dividing the services.

  45. TandemTrainRider says:

    > Again I stress, a completely integrated network provides FLEXIBILITY where service patterns on
    > different lines can be adjusted without compromising overall network efficiency.

    Flexibility is often a byword for lack of sectorisation in Sydney. Without wanting to be too rude, I think Ray’s proposal for operating the cross harbour tunnel fails to realise one of the major benefits of the scheme: it should create a new sector.

    I think the real problem Sydney has is there aren’t enough sectors for the number of suburban and interurban stations, the problem is being exaserbated by the NWRL’s alignment over the bridge. Most of this current planning debarcle can be traced back to the Envonmental Assessment process decision under the previous government that pandered to a very few Nymby’s at Beacroft.

  46. Ray says:

    Simon, I don’t think it’s realistic to kick out the Intercity services from the Blue Mountains and Newcastle/Central Coast. Can you imagine the outcry. It’s not even worth thinking about. They have to be accommodated. I deliberately allowed for 4tph from each of those lines, which is the current frequency, to maximize the number of paths which would be available for Western Suburban services. Additional Newcastle/Central Coast services can use the North Shore Line as they do at present. The full quad from Epping to Strathfield could also allow more of these services (up to another 4tph) to run via the Main North and the Western Main to Central, bringing that lines capacity up to 20tph as far as the Eveleigh junction with the new CBD link. The option of diverting Upper Northern Line services (4tph) back to the ECRL (NWRL), if needed, would also free up another 4tph for Western Line services, bringing it up to a total of 24tph (16tph via the Suburban tracks through to the North Shore Line and 8tph via the new CBD link) , up from the current 16tph via the Suburban tracks through Central and 20tph as I initially proposed under my scheme including the new CBD link.

    The capacity of a new CBD link and cross harbour tunnel has to be maximized and under my scenario for an all double deck service, that would be around 24tph, or possibly more. The number of paths available for Western services on a new CBD link (8tph) plus those on the existing Suburban tracks (potentially 16tph) has to be balanced with those from the South West, which I have suggested as 16tph (excluding the Airport Line). There could be room to adjust this balance.

    I don’t quite get your point about having “a single set of stations in the CBD”. It’s certainly not nonsense to suggest that a “prime advantage” of a direct service from the South West connecting to a new CBD link is to minimize the interchange of passengers at the existing busiest stations. It’s not an issue with Western/Northern Line services, because they already proceed through to the North Shore via the Suburban tracks. Successive reports dating back to the original Christie Report in 2001 have consistently stated that a new CBD link with either the East Hills, Airport or Illawarra Lines will not only provide a direct link to the North Shore employment zones, reducing the need to interchange, but also provide alternative interchange options for other lines and take pressure off Central, Town Hall and Wynyard. Just seems like common sense to me.

    In reply to TTR, you have misinterpreted my comment about “flexibility” and perhaps I should have been more explicit. I am all in favour of maintaining “sectorisation” as far as it can be implemented, but what I meant to say was that having one completely integrated network, whether it is double deck, single deck or a combination of both, has the advantage of having more flexibility to plan services within a sector. For example, Upper Northern Line trains could run via either the Northern Line to Strathfield and the city or via the ECRL (NWRL). Similarly, East Hills Line trains could run via either the Illawarra Local and Sydenham or the Airport Line. I wasn’t suggesting that the alternative service patterns could be interchanged in day to day operation, but the optimal permanent pattern could be implemented without being constrained by an overlayed incompatible system, such as is now proposed with the rapid transit concept.

    I did in fact comment that my new CBD link/cross harbour tunnel proposal would create a new sector. It would be a modified MREP, which would include the NWRL, potentially the Upper Northern Line from Hornsby to Epping, the current ECRL to Chatswood and extended through to St Leonards and North Sydney, the future Northern Beaches Line, the cross harbour tunnel and CBD link through to the connection with the Western Main at Eveleigh and the Illawarra Local through to Campbelltown/Macarthur and the SWRL via the East Hills Express tracks.

    When the Clearway’s program was introduced, there were 5 sectors proposed:-

    Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra

    Airport and South


    Campbelltown Express


    However, they have since appeared to have fallen by the wayside.

    The NWRL’s alignment over the bridge, and I presume you mean the current plan terminating at Chatswood, may be as far as it goes. Who knows?

    You’re certainly right in tracing the whole debacle back to the Cheltenham/Beecroft NIMBY’s, who were instrumental in having the original plan changed to eliminate the direct connection with the Northern Line, which would have allowed the flexibility (there’s that word again) of operating services to the city via either Strathfield or Chatswood. That’s no longer an option.

    To their credit, the previous Labor government in its dying days did bring the direct connection back on the agenda in their submission for funding in August 2010 to Infrastructure Australia. But it was all too late.

  47. TandemTrainRider says:

    > In reply to TTR, you have misinterpreted my comment about “flexibility” and perhaps I should have
    > been more explicit. I am all in favour of maintaining “sectorisation” as far as it can be implemented,
    > but what I meant to say was that having one completely integrated network, whether it is double
    > deck, single deck or a combination of both, has the advantage of having more flexibility to plan
    > services within a sector.

    I thought I was being a bit harsh because I really did know what you meant by that.

    The advantage of a ubiquitous format – and largely the reason we ended up with it (hard to say it was “planned” that way) – is it allows short and long haul routes to operate together on the same sectors.

    From this point, it doesn’t really matter which routes feed into whiuch sectors, so it’s rational to do it geographically. Leaving aside the fact the short and long routes overlap, sector allocation by route length automatically requires the use of non existant flyovers, because clearly all multiple short routes are not going to approach the city from the same direction.

    As I suggested earlier, the reason we have so many routes (other than the convoluted topology culminated from a multitude of “missing link” projects) is the number of stations has expanded with the city.

    I’d suggest a far more logical – if not exactly politcally appealing – approach to fixing the ratio of collection to aggregation stations is to cull a few (or more) of the lightly used but tightly spaced inner stations. Do we *really* need a station at Macdonaldtown for instance? McT, St James, Erskinville and Newtown are all *less* than 1000m from one another. We just need one decent station at Newtown. Plenty of others on my chopping block – some quite well used ones too.

  48. SimonL says:

    Ray, I never meant to truncate the Blue Mountains line at Penrith, but it could go over the bridge.

    It seems you don’t get it on my other points. If I’m at QVB and I want to go to Parramatta by train, I don’t want to have to think which station might be the best to walk to. I want just one way of doing it. Might be a case in peak to have multiple stations when the frequency is high anyway, but off peak it would be just awful.

  49. Ray says:

    Yes, I agree Simon it is an option for Blue Mountains services to go over the bridge, or via a new CBD link, just as it is for Newcastle/Central Coast services to do likewise from Strathfield or run via the North Shore line. All South Coast services could also run through to Bondi Junction. But in the process, Sydney Terminal would become deserted, only servicing the few remaining regional and interstate NSW Trainlink services. It would be a complete waste of Infrastructure resources, not to mention the takeover of the limited number of train paths available to suburban services through the CBD.

    I understand what you’re getting at with regard to having a single corridor through the CBD where all lines converge and in an ideal world, that would be great to have. I may be wrong, but I think that scenario applies in Zurich. However, the reality is that in Sydney we have 3 different corridors through the CBD, the Suburban/North Shore, City Circle and Eastern Suburbs Lines. They all do converge at Central, but follow different routes thereafter. If for example I wanted to travel to Parramatta and I was at Centrepoint or Macquarie St, which are close to St James or Martin Place stations, I would have to make a choice whether I walked across town to Town Hall or Wynyard to get a direct ride, or caught a train from the closest station and interchanged at Town Hall or Central. That is unavoidable. That is the system we have and we have to make the best use of it. No matter what route a new CBD link takes, it can’t service every sector.

  50. michblogs says:

    “, but like spoiled brats, Barry O’Farrell and Gladys Berejiklian picked up their bat and ball and said “stuff you”, we’ll do it our own way. ”

    That’s a bit rich. Who elected that billion dollar deadbeat Eddington ?

  51. Ray says:

    michblogs, just for the record, the State Liberal government lodged a submission to Infrastructure Australia to transfer the $2.1 billion, promised by the then Labor government during the 2010 Federal Election for the Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, to the North West Rail Link.

    Their request was denied by Infrastructure Australia because their submission lacked detail and there was not sufficient justification demonstrated for the project at the expense of other higher priority transport infrastructure. However, IA offered to enter into further negotiations with the State government if further information was provided. The State government declined their offer and shortly after announced the revised NWRL as a privatised stand alone rapid transit shuttle from Rouse Hill to Chatswood, converting the existing ECRL in the process. If they were so confident that their proposal could be justified, they could have taken up IA’s offer, but they didn’t. That’s what I call spitting the dummy.

    I think you’re a bit rich in your remarks about Sir Rod Eddington, a respected businessman well regarded by both sides of politics. After all, IA was set up to take the politics out of decision making on major infrastructure projects so they could be independently assessed and recommendations made about priorities. Similarly, Infrastructure NSW was established by the Liberal government to independently assess infrastructure projects and make recommendations to government. So far, many of their recommendations have been ignored, no doubt prompting the early resignations of Chairman Nick Greiner and CEO Paul Broad. I’m sure they thought they had better things to do, rather than waste their time and energy on making recommendations which were ignored.

  52. TandemTrainRider says:

    I remember seeing on The Drum IIRC one of the comentators suggesting the ALP’s internal research showed the main reason Maxine McKew lost Benalong was *because* Labor made another rail promise in Sydney.

    Given that was the case I think it was always unlikely that funding was going to be forthcomming. It was all about trying to paint the other lot as the ones cancelling the project.

  53. rails says:

    I think if anyone actually believes that the federal Government was going to pay anything towards the NWRL they are kidding themselves, it was competing directly against the project that the Labor party had put forward and was still saying they would build at the last election (the PERL), even though that project never went before IA and no wonder considering they said they would not consider it worthwhile for at least another decade. As did all the NSW Government planning documentation.

    Even if IA had recommended the money go to the NWRL the Federal Labor Government would not have handed it over, Gillard made that very clear at the time. The federal Liberal party then decided that money should go towards the Pacific Highway. So what would be the point? The NSW Government knew they were never going to get any federal funding for the NWRL so they went it alone. I don’t see that as being spoiled brats, I would rather not see the time and additional costs wasted on something that would not happen.

    Correct me if I am wrong but under the current plan the NSW Government contribute only 50% of the total project cost, the private sector contributes the other half, that is a good outcome really. If they can repeat that for the second harbour rail crossing and the Beaches link then they will be built.

  54. Ray says:

    If that was the case, TTR and rails, why did the NSW Liberal government even bother to lodge a submission with Infrastructure Australia? They must have thought they at least had some chance.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that Infrastructure Australia is an independent statutory authority, just like the Reserve Bank and the Productivity Commission. The government of the day cannot direct it on how it reports or makes recommendations. It can however, choose to ignore its advice, but it must justify its decision by giving its reasons for doing so.

    I agree that the PERL was a belated cynical attempt by the Gillard government to bolster its chances in the seat of Bennelong during the 2010 election campaign, when it wasn’t even on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list. Nor was it a priority for either the previous State Labor government or the current government. But it back fired on them (the Feds that is).

    To give them the benefit of the doubt, I believe that Infrastructure Australia would have independently assessed the NSW government’s submission to switch the funding from the PERL to the NWRL, but they found that the submission was lacking in detail and had not demonstrated that it had an acceptable cost/benefit ratio to make it viable. IA offered to enter into further negotiations, but the State government declined their offer. You can read into that what you like, but in my book that’s spitting the dummy, when they still had the opportunity to strengthen their case. I don’t discount the fact that this was a ploy from the start to justify their decision to go down the privatisation path.

    I’m not sure if there is actually a 50/50 split of the project cost for the NWRL, but from my observation the State government has so far fully funded the initial project costs and the tunneling and skytrain contracts. The next stage is for the Operations, Trains and Systems contract, which will be a Public Private Partnership. Two consortia have been listed to submit tenders which will be awarded in the second half of 2014.

    The successful contractor will be responsible for building the eight new stations, the commuter car parks, the track, signalling, mechanical and electrical systems, the stabling and maintenance facility, construction of the rapid transit single deck train fleet, converting the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link for Rapid Transit and once completed, operating the system. There will no doubt be a contribution from the government required to cover community service obligations and maintaining the fare structure at the same level as the Sydney Trains network. Whether the ultimate cost equates to a 50/50 split between the public and private sector, I must confess , I don’t really know. I hope the consortia tendering for this contract have done their sums and don’t fall into the trap of relying on inflated patronage figures, such as in the case of the Cross City and Lane Cove Tunnels. Otherwise we’ll be stuck with another Airport Line debacle (also implemented under the Liberals).

    However, one thing I’m sure of is that with the intended expansion across the harbour and confiscation of parts of the existing network, it’s a high price to pay for stuffing up the efficient operation of the rest of the Sydney Trains and NSW Trains networks.

  55. rails says:

    Lets be serious, they had to submit or the Federal Labor Government, every newspaper outlet and folks like yourself would be bleating how there was money on the table and the NSW Government didn’t try for it. Even though in reality it wasn’t there in a true sense. The Federal Government who are the ones actually make the decision, IA advise. The Labor Government said they would not contribute and that they were committed to the PERL. The Liberal opposition (at that time) wont build local rail projects period. It would have been a waste of time. I don’t believe IA would asses the switching of money between projects, that is not what they’re job is, they provide a list to recommend what should be built, what goes ahead and with what funding split is the Government’s job.

    You also have to be realistic, it was a rehash of work the previous Government had done because of the short amount of time the Liberals had been in Government when they had to submit something to IA, a lot has changed in that time. It never surprised me that it wasn’t up to scratch because I know the previous Government never wanted to build the NWRL at all so the preliminary work was not done. They rarely did the proper preliminary work, they just announced stuff, like the CBD Metro where the preliminary work was done after the announcement, same happened with the WEX/ CBD Relief (that then started to morph into a SHC project due to political pressure). Although to be fair I think the current NSW Government have got some benefit out of that.

    Yes, I don’t know the exact split but it appears to be close to 50:50 from the info I have seen. As for your last point, I wont start on that but do you seriously believe that the 4-6 tph on the 2.3 billion dollar ECRL is efficient? In fact, do you actually believe that the Sydney and NSW trains i any real way an efficient network right now?

  56. TandemTrainRider says:

    > If that was the case, TTR and rails, why did the NSW Liberal government even bother to lodge a
    > submission with Infrastructure Australia? They must have thought they at least had some chance.

    @Alex, that is indeed a very good question. Perhaps the better question is why did they do such a half arsed job of it? On that we can really only speculate, but perhaps one answer is the state government’s own internal advice showed the NWRL project was never going to meet any objective cost benefit criteria. That being the case any decision to fund the NWRL at either state or federal level would necessarily be a political one.

    BTW @Rails, do you work for News Corporation?

  57. rails says:

    TTR, Eh no, We’re down to that level are we? I am not at affiliated with any media outlet, political party or interest group actually. In fact I have no stake in what happens with the NWRL/ RTN at all other than living in Sydney and wanting good infrastructure for my city. That’s like me asking do you work for Railcorp, or are you a card carrying member of the RTBU and the NSW Labor party…

  58. TandemTrainRider says:

    > … other than living in Sydney …
    @Rails, clearly. That’s why I didn’t accuse you of being Andrew Bolt :-).

  59. Simon says:

    Why do such a half assed job of the NWRL submission to IA? Well they were hardly going to publicly suggest:
    (a) trimming trains to the upper shore (2tph)
    (b) sending the upper northern line to Central (i) or to terminate at Chatswood
    (c) Terminating half the planned 8tph NWRL trains at Chatswood, or St Leonards if the quad to there would be built

    Two of which would have been needed to make things work.

    Similarly, they were hardly going to put a forecast on how many vehicle drivers would switch to PT because of this line.

  60. Ray says:

    I will concede there may have been another agenda operating here and I did qualify my comments by suggesting that I didn’t discount the fact that the Liberal government’s submission to Infrastructure Australia was a ploy from the start to justify their decision to go down the privatisation path. But unless you have inside information, which I don’t, you can speculate all you like about what the State government’s true intent was. TTR, rails and simon nonetheless all make some valid points.

    rails, you have misconstrued my comment about the efficient operation of the residual Sydney Trains and NSW Trains network following conversion of parts of it to Rapid Transit operation. I was referring to the fact that operations would be compromised by denying Sydney Trains and NSW Trains access to the East Hills Line via the current Illawarra Local through Sydenham, forcing all of the former from the rapidly expanding South West Growth corridor onto the Airport Line. The quad from Revesby to Wolli Creek Junction would be a wasted resource, unable to realise its full potential. It is yet to be seen whether the Airport Line infrastructure can in fact support higher frequencies than 12tph. NSW Trains would also be forced to revert their southern regional and interstate services to the south line via Granville (which used to be the southern main line decades ago), not Lidcombe and Regents Park, because that route would also be converted to the incompatible Rapid Transit system. Just as an aside, why would you terminate these Rapid Transit services at Cabramatta rather than continuing it through to Liverpool (obviously requiring additional tracks over a relatively short distance). Unless you’re suggesting that all regional and interstate services should be abolished. And don’t mention Illawarra freight.

    The other major shortcoming is that the Rapid Transit proposal only provides minimal additional capacity through the CBD from the Western Lines, which are the most heavily congested. Whilst it will divert Bankstown Line services to the new CBD link, freeing up paths on the City Circle for diversion of services from the Western Lines, this will be at the cost of compromising sectorisation (eg. Diverting Northern Line services from the current Sector 3 to Sector 2). The Hurstville all stations Rapid Transit services will no longer be part of Sector 1 to the Eastern Suburbs, which suggests that Sector 1 will be underutilised. It’s a complete balls up whichever way you look at it!

    I take you point about whether the Sydney Trains/NSW Trains administration operates the current network as efficiently as it could, but Ron Christie, the former Coordinator General of Rail, in a recent letter to the SMH, stated that successive senior rail administrators (and I have a personal relationship with one of them at the highest level ) were aware of what needed to be done to improve the operational efficiency of the rail system, but their political masters at the time weren’t prepared to take that radical step. He also commented that other administrations had undertaken the necessary reforms to improve their networks’ efficiency without the need to resort to outside private operators.

    You may have gathered that I’m not supportive of the government’s current plan for the NWRL and the Rail Futures concept, but It’s got to the point now where I can’t be bothered justifying my stance on the rights and wrongs of their proposal after debating the point ad nauseam.

    In a perverse sort of way, I’d just like to see them get on with it, and watch how it crumbles. Then there will be no argument about whether the right decision was taken.

  61. TandemTrainRider says:

    > In a perverse sort of way, I’d just like to see them get on with it, and watch how it crumbles.
    @Ray, the problem I have with this is the only way out of the mess being created is to extend the problems it’s created further and wider. To me, the NWRL is lowering the lowest common denominator. It’s achieving nothing, but the long term damage is huge.

    I don’t know if you saw it but I argued over the page that the most likely outcome is conversion of the core of sector 3 to “rapid transit” (a ephemisim for making all PAX stand), the main north become it’s own isloated sector terminating at ST, and the rest bolted onto sector 2.

  62. rails says:


    I did misunderstand you. I am supportive of the RTN plan in the North and all the way to CBD other than how things have ended up for the Northern line. I think the ECRL is currently wasted and is well suited to forming part of the RTN. I think it’s great how you can use this piece of infrastructure and a Second Harbour Rail Crossing to support not only the NWRL but a Northern Beaches line and the PERL as well as creating capacity through the lower North Shore and indeed for the Central Coast should they choose to. It allows for the Western line to remain as Double Deckers while using Single Deckers on an alignment that is best suited to that form, one of the very few in Sydney actually. However I’ve also said that the current plan is not the only solution but it does work and some of the reasoning against it is just rubbish.

    I have however noted before that I do have reservations about what they have decided to do in the South. There was never enough information released to assess it properly although the document being discussed here does reveal more information.

    Some of my concerns would probably be different from yours too. Firstly I would not get too stressed about it as the reality is by the time the RTN gets to the other side of the CBD there will be none of the current decision makers in place. The advisors will probably be long gone too. If it really is as bad as what people make out and the status quo for these lines is preferable (which it’s not but others might disagree) then run the RTN elsewhere. They have planned for the RTN to be in three stages,

    1. NWRL
    2. SHRC to CBD
    3. Conversion of southern lines

    So run it along the West Metro Path to Parramatta/Westmead. Or join the RTN to the airport line and terminate it at Revesby (MREP style) or you could run some other combination to integrate into the existing network or a new line elsewhere. Either way I believe what they are doing in the North is good (although there is some pain before the SHRC is finished) and I believe that we need a fast loading, high capacity, automated Metro style line for the CBD and we will get it. I like the three tier network and don’t believe that Sydney should only have Double Decker trains run by Cityrail/ Sydney Trains. I also believe that there is some serious inefficiency in the existing system and it needs a lot of work still. Again other may disagree. If we went down the path of a completely separate system like the Labor party proposed, you would get exactly what Nathan Rees said back then, no further investment in Cityrail. That would be a bad outcome and that is what TNSW are claiming to try and avoid by integrating the RTN with Sydney Trains.

    I understand what they are trying to achieve in the south though. You can see that they want to use the RTN to create more capacity on the existing Sydney Trains lines and create a two tier configuration. Past taking the Bankstown line out to simplify the network significantly they have in mind for not only the Illawarra line to run as a two tier link but the East Hills line as well.

    The Illawarra line would be completely utilised, it would have 10 tph from Hurstville to the CBD and the North Shore via the RTN to service the inner stations, then the outer stations are serviced by Sydney Trains with 5 tph from the South Coast, 5 tph from Waterfall and 10 tph from Cronulla, all terminating at Bondi Junction. All the outer trains are running express from Hurstville to Redfern with the exception of Wolli Creek. So 20 tph for Sydney Trains and 10 tph for the RTN for a total of 30 tph.

    As I have mentioned on here before, getting more capacity to the Illawarra line seems to have been a goal for as long as I can remember, they seem intent on expanding this one as Single Deck more than any other line. I think the Bankstown line is second because it gets in the way so to speak but it also has a lot of stations close together so it will work with Single Deck Trains.

    The East Hills would see the RTN take over the local services to Revesby. So 10 tph to Revesby via the RTN to service the inner stations and the outer stations again serviced by Sydney Trains with I think 8 tph to Leppington and 12 tph to Campbelltown all running express from Revesby to Redfern with the exception of Wolli Creek. So again, 20 tph for Sydney Trains and 10 tph for the RTN for a total of 30 tph. I can’t see any reason why the Airport line can’t run 20 tph after the power works are done, why do you think it can’t? They are still using the Revesby quad to its potential in this scenario, they are just having the Double Deckers run through the airport and the Single Deckers via Sydenham.

    I must admit when I saw their original graphic for the finalised layout of the RTN/ Sydney Trains Network I thought that they were just going to complete the extra Sydnenham track pair into a new tunnel at Redfern, there is room for it. However it’s clear that is not their plan. I think they could still do this and then build a flyover or flyunder to join the Hurstville locals but it would be an expensive project and then what happens to the trains when they hit the city anyway? Where does the extra Double Deck capacity get used? You need another city path to make use of it.

    Regarding the Bankstown line ending at Liverpool rather than Cabramatta, I thought this too but you can that they are going to have plenty of Capacity on the Main South line with between 12 and 16 tph Double Deckers through Liverpool to the CBD, plus they have the room to build the turnback and station at Cabramatta and don’t have the room to easily add tracks to Liverpool. It makes sense that this line would be left to run only Double Deckers in this scenario. This also leads into what I believe they plan to do regarding freight. I may be wrong but I think they want the feds to pay for the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton freight line and move all freight to run via this corridor along with the SSFL away from the inner city lines. I have seen the Government plans to have a new freight line from the Main South through the Badgerys Creek area to meet the Western line. So this also makes sense then to leave this corridor for Double Deckers and freight rather than Single Deckers been thrown into the mix when they are not needed. Having said this I found it interesting that Rod Staples kept talking about the RTN to Liverpool, he probably just meant Cabramatta but who knows.

    Now you get to my bugbear and where I completely agree with you, once you get past Central I don’t think their plan creates the capacity required for the Western Line and the Northern Line, the Southern line has heaps of capacity under their plan as do the other lines really. However the growth in the North and Western corridors means that you need more here and not enough has been done, I do still believe that when they started down this path they thought they could squeeze enough out of the existing corridor to provide for the medium term but they haven’t been able to deliver.

    Now I thought that this could be solved by a plan to run the RTN to Homebush instead of either Hurstville or Revesby but that document seems to say they will not run the RTN to the West and the reason is not specified. That kind of sunk me a bit too on their plans for the Southern half of the RTN but in reality I think they should continue with their plans but they need another solution for the Western and Northern Lines. The Metro West reserved corridor is just sitting there waiting to be used and I think that is what will happen allowing the capacity for the Western/ Northern lines. Now the argument would be that they should do that first. Well if as some people say they are never going to build the SHRC, the NWRL will be a white elephant and the Single Deck trains don’t work in Sydney then the next cab off the rank will be something for Metro West. I don’t think that is how it will happen myself but it’s a possible scenario.

  63. Ray says:

    TTR, I didn’t see your post “over the page”. I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Could you be more specific? However, I agree with your line of thinking that the long term damage with the current NWRL proposal would be huge for the rest of the Sydney Train’s network. Hence my disillusionment with the government’s long term plans for the overall rail network.

  64. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Ray, sorry, I meant “The Page” as in Railpage, and I was refering to this post:

  65. SimonL says:

    I agree with Ray, there’s not much reason to argue about what’s happening in Sydney.

  66. Ray says:

    Thanks TTR. I now understand what you’re getting at. A bit tongue in cheek I thought. I’m surprised some took your comments seriously.

  67. TandemTrainRider says:

    > A bit tongue in cheek I thought.
    It was a bit tongue in cheek, but at the same time I *do* think that’s the direction we’re blundering towards.

  68. Ray says:

    In a belated response to rails, I agree with you that the ECRL is currently wasted, but bear in mind that it was initially part of an extended link from Chatswood to Parramatta and later a link to the North West. The current frequency of 4tph from the Upper Northern Line from Hornsby (now augmented by another 2tph in the contra-peak flow direction) is about all that could be justified as it stands. With its extension as part of the NWRL, there will obviously be a significant increase in frequency, whether it were to be an integrated double deck service or rapid transit.

    I think you can forget about the PERL. In an article published in the SMH a year or so ago, Dr Dick Day, the former General Manager of Planning and Timetable Development at Railcorp, stated that “a few minutes analysis of traffic volumes would demonstrate that the recently established priority bus service is a far more cost effective transit solution in at least the medium term”. I would go further and suggest that Parramatta City Council’s Western Sydney Light Rail Network, which proposes an initial link from Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood as the first priority, is a more sustainable long term solution. It is not only shorter (by around 3km) than the original PERL or the Metrobus (M54) route, but provides more stops than the PERL and at a fraction of the cost. It will be mostly in a segregated right of way allowing optimal average speeds. The future planning for the PERL proposes it as a shuttle service from Parramatta to Epping, which would require an interchange at Epping to continue to Macquarie Park. The Light Rail option would provide a direct service.

    The ECRL may be well suited to forming part of a future rapid transit link, but not to its further extension to the outer suburban areas. This is where there is a divergence of opinion on the relative merits of retaining the existing integrated double deck operation against the conversion to rapid transit. Whichever way you look at it, the NWRL beyond Epping can’t be justified as being a high capacity corridor warranting a “rapid transit” service. Compare it with the patronage on the Western Line and number of services. There is no comparison. As it stands, the extension of the ECRL to the North West can only be either an integrated double deck (or compatible single deck) operation or a separate rapid transit operation. My preference is for the former.

    As for the south, the proposed rapid transit without question compromises services from the south west by forcing them onto the Airport Line. In my reference to increasing the capacity of the Airport Line, I was referring to the comment in the leaked report that there was a medium risk in obtaining approval from the Fire Department with regard to the fire and life safety strategy under increased train operations and also the fact that bidirectionality of tunnel ventilation may not be achievable. It made the further comment that the number of trains allowed within the ventilated section may have to be limited. Hence my comment that it is yet to be seen whether the Airport Line infrastructure can support higher frequencies. A tender or expressions of interest advertisement (I’m not sure which) was placed in the Sydney papers in the last few months for the upgrading of the Airport Line. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no outcome to date.

    For my part, assuming the government’s current Rail Futures plan was to proceed (not that I agree with it), it may have been smarter to build the 2 extra tracks from Erskineville to Sydenham, separating the Bankstown Line from the Illawarra Lines and extending them to Wolli Creek Junction to connect directly with the East Hills Line Express tracks. The additional cost in comparison with the overall cost of a new CBD rail link and cross harbour tunnel would be minimal.

    This would leave the Bankstown Line connected directly with the existing Sydney Trains network via the City Circle (inner & outer). Considering it was a a second best option (Plan B) after the impracticability of connecting a new CBD link to the Inner West Local Line, it wouldn’t be a great loss to exclude it from the rapid transit line. I can’t see that it warranted a high frequency rapid transit link anyway, particularly when it would have to cater for all stations as well as express services from Cabramatta, limiting its frequency. Rapid transit systems are not conducive to mixing all stations and express services, not to mention branching. By retaining an enhanced Bankstown Line as part of the Sydney Trains network, it would allow services to continue through to Liverpool rather than having to terminate at Cabramatta. To put it into context, terminating at Cabramatta under the rapid transit proposal would be akin to terminating a rapid transit line at Granville, requiring interchange to reach Parramatta. It’s an absurd proposition. There is a campaign now running by the Labor Member for Auburn to restore the service to Liverpool via Regents Park, since abandoned under the new timetable. If this was to be reintroduced, then it would also be at risk under the rapid transit proposal.

    The extension of the Erskineville/Sydenham sextup to Wolli Creek Junction could connect directly with the East Hills Line express tracks allowing Macarthur/Campbelltown and Leppington services to run express from Revesby to the City Circle via Sydenham, sharing the line with Bankstown services, which would also be express from Sydenham. A connection at Wolli Creek Junction from the East Hills express tracks to the Airport Line would also allow the train flow to be balanced between the line via Sydenham and via the Airport Line. The current Illawarra Local Line would be converted to connect the rapid transit line with the new CBD and cross harbour link and to Hurstville and Revesby. The Bankstown Line would be excluded.

    This still doesn’t address all of the shortcomings of the confiscation of parts of the existing network, but it’s an improvement on what has been originally proposed.

    For example, NSW Trainlink services would still be denied access to the East Hills Line and dare I mention it, Illawarra freight would also not have access to the Illawarra Line. The Maldon to Dombarton freight line may well resolve this dilemma, but there is still no guarantee that it will actually go ahead. This is where I have a major issue with the government’s rapid transit proposal. They haven’t come out and said what strategies they will implement to modify the existing network to enable the rapid transit proposal to be incorporated (not integrated) without compromising those existing services. This should have been sorted out, and publically acknowledged, before the rapid transit proposal was released. What if they subsequently find that parts of their proposal are not workable? Then we’ll be left with the NWRL white elephant.

    The plan also still doesn’t address expansion of capacity on the Western and Northern Line. Failing construction of a flyover from the Western Main to the Suburban tracks at the Central flying junctions, it’s inevitable that some Northern Line services will have to terminate at Central. If that was to happen, I’d prefer that the services from Epping in the peak terminated and those from Hornsby continued through the CBD to the North Shore Line. Then every Northern Line station would continue to have the option of a direct service across the harbour. Everything must be done to make this work.

    I don’t have a problem with a rapid transit/metro system per se, so long as it is completely separate from the existing SUBURBAN network. The first priority should have been to upgrade and correct the shortcomings of the existing network, and then, and only then, look at further expansion with a new separate network.

  69. Simon says:

    Ray, keeping the Bankstown line on Sydney Trains would dilute what they are trying to achieve: reducing the size of the Sydney Trains network, and the amount of trains they have to manage.

    I’m actually not sure that rapid transit can even reach the existing Cabramatta station. Might be more like a Cabramatta East i.e. Carramar. Isn’t the SSFL in the way of expanding the station to the east? They’d need to slew the Sydney Trains over to the west to squeeze in the rapid tracks.

    I’d give you pretty good odds on Maldon-Dombarton. I say it won’t be built. Which is where the bit in the RTI comes in which states that rapid rolling stock needs to co-exist with freight.

    Interesting idea about sextupping Sydenham-Wolli, but it’s still a pretty constrained location. You’d need a flyover at Wolli Creek and you’re still merging with what is only two tracks to Sydenham.

  70. rails says:

    Thanks for the response Ray,

    The interesting thing is thought that the PERL has not been forgotten by the Government, only a few months ago Rod Staples was saying how they have designed the NWRL with integration with the PERL. I don’t think you can be sure that it will be a shuttle either, built for Single Deck trains there is no reason for it to be a shuttle, there will be 10-12 free paths on the ECRL left and the PERL, the platforms remain at St Leonards and based on the last version it will no longer join the Western line at Parramatta but will terminate at North South platforms under the existing station.

    I know in the document being discussed the PERL appeared in one of diagrams as a shuttle but that means little. Also the thing with the PERL in the 2010 configuration is that if it is integrated as Single Deck trains it will be a quicker journey with many more services to entice people to change. The original PERL using 4 tph Double Deckers is a waste of time, I would not ever support it, Costa actually did us a favour canning it. However if the PERL was integrated as RTN it has real merit IMO and it would be one of the few ways to actually remove passengers from the City bound Western line trains. While I think the Parramatta councils plan also has merit I don’t think the PERL is dead yet. I also recall but may be wrong that the terminus is for the proposed Parramatta to Macquarie Light Rail is not optimal either? I think it’s at Macquarie Uni isn’t it? Surely most passengers will then still have to transfer to the ECRL to get to their destination? Based on the figures I’ve seen from transport projects lately I am also not sure that the cost difference would be as much as made out but time will tell.

    As I am sure you know originally the NWRL wasn’t actually going to connect into the ECRL, it was going to run via the lower Northern line, while it was mainly the local NIMBYs that derailed that plan I think it was for the best though, you don’t want any more trains being sent to that corridor and they have now shown a substantial number of passengers from the NWRL want access to the Lower North Shore.

    I have been over this argument many times regarding the mode for the NWRL and to be honest I am getting tired of it and while I agree if you look at the NW in isolation it’s easy to be critical of the mode choice but it’s not in isolation, it’s part of a corridor at first to Chatswood then to North Sydney and the CBD, a corridor that has many major stops where passengers will be getting on and off and is connected to the most number of major employment nodes of any line in Sydney. It’s not like nearly all the other lines in Sydney where people get on at their outer suburban station and only travel to the CBD. It’s not really the mode (Double Deck or Single deck) it’s the amount of seats compared to the distance travelled and as long as the trains deliver the 600 seating per 8 carriage train with the numbers touted it will be able to service the outer stations, those people won’t be standing. Certainly like a lot of the bus passengers do now.

    The NWRLs success also relies on supporting passengers who have to drive or catch a bus to the station and interchange with rail, you want fast loading and frequent services, 4 – 6 tph double deckers would not be the best option and that is probably all they would receive from the “integrated option” just like the ECRL. While there are lots of plans floated, really to get more services to these stations in double deck form you are looking at the second harbour crossing, so both service types are on par there. If you know you are getting a second crossing then it has to be a separate sector, that is a core aim the network is trying to achieve. So between the CBD the mode should not be limited by having to run Double Deck trains because the rest of network does, the most criticism seems to be the loss of the upper Northern trains, the irony being that they are only there because the PERL was scrapped and the NWRL deferred. It was a quick fix to actually be able to use the line and also give some capacity to the fast growing Western Line instead of the PERL doing so.

    I am not sure you can argue that the NWRL shouldn’t be in Single Deck format because it’s too far and people won’t get a seat then say that it can’t be justified as a rapid transit service because there aren’t enough passengers? The numbers certainly exist in the NW catchment and there is no doubting the substantial growth for this area in the future including a lot of extra density surrounding the stations. As mentioned this is a car dependent area and people will have to drive or catch a bus to the station and that will work well for this form of service, when people get stuck in traffic and don’t arrive at the station at the time they intended they won’t have to wait a long time for the next train, you will also have people spread out arriving at the station in their individual cars and on buses from different areas so again the higher frequency works well. As a side benefit the NWRL also means that you can easily build the stabling/ facilities for 50% of the trains required for the RTN network.

    I do now recall what you’re saying regarding the Airport line but a lot of the options have risk, that assessment is not enough to derail the planning I don’t think but it’s a valid point. The Bankstown line wasn’t a less preferred option than the inner west line was it? I haven’t seen that written in any reports? I may think it is though! However I already mentioned my thoughts on the termination at Cabramatta, I don’t think it absurd when you look at the full plan, the numbers of passengers on both branches of the Bankstown line are quite small when you get past Bankstown itself, the train numbers should be fine as its really the more inner section that the Single deck format is aimed at, that is where the congestion is and where the Double Deckers are not proving suitable. As a side point the two branches also do provide the capacity to terminate enough Single Deck trains without large infrastructure changes. Also that campaign for the Regents Park reinstatement is rubbish and won’t go anywhere. It a symbol of part of what is wrong with our current network actually.

    I don’t think Governments usually do release exact details on what there are going to do usually, certainly not when the changes are decades away. There are many options and as I said, who knows if it will all go ahead as planned anyway. To me the important thing is to get the NWRL/ SHRC built to the CBD. Where it goes from there is still open I think but I do think that tey can make the plans put forward work. However there is one other project needed I think that would pull all of this together but I fear that the WestConnex has put an end to that one. That is what worries me.

    I have to say it is funny, I read so many comments on here and it’s like you’re all going to war, Single Deckers vs Double Deckers, the Single Deckers being the evil empire trying to take over the galaxy. They are all just trains! There should be no talk of confiscation as Sydney Trains doesn’t own anything, we the people do. I don’t get this sense of entitlement for Sydney Trains and its train type. If Single Deckers work better use them, if Double Deckers do use them. It won’t always be perfect, especially when you are changing an ad hoc set of lines that were created for different reasons in a different time but you can improve things. The existing network sure as hell needs it. All I can tell you again is that if they didn’t go down the integration path nothing would change on the Sydney trains network. That has been made crystal clear in the past.

    Also you can’t just separate the Suburban network from an RTN style network because the reality is that the Sydney Trains network is a hybrid, it’s not only running services for the outer suburbs its supporting inner ones too. That is part of what they are trying to separate out but some seem to have this idea that it’s all Sydney Trains sandpit and that the RTN should go build their own, well that is not right, there is a need to service both markets on the existing network. It’s not just about those further out, some of the stations/ lines being talked about have very small numbers of passengers and catchments and they should not be sucking capacity from stations further in for little gain. Sydney Trains has to stop trying to be all things to all people and then we might get somewhere.

    So while I know you don’t agree but they are trying to improve the existing network by separating out the inner and the outer corridors with suitable modes and proper express paths, if it works the results will be good but I actually fear they are taking on too much. I think the Sydney Trains network will be more streamlined and the RTN will be more complex and prone to failure! In the end I don’t think we will ever agree on this, there is such emotive language around the subject and I don’t get that. I just want to see a good solution in place and believe in being open to as many options as possible and forgoing the political crap. I think we will get there in the end and then wonder what all the fuss was about.

  71. Dudley Horscroft says:

    I’m coming into this discussion fairly late, but I seem to remember some years ago the idea for the Parramatta Epping Rail Link was that western line trains could use the alternative and it would be very much quicker for those who wanted to go to the North Sydney area, plus running trains in the loop from Parramatta to Parramatta in both directions would remove the problems with reversing trains at North Sydney.

    The distance from Carlingford station to Epping Station is roughly 3.5 km. This assumes an end on junction at Carlingford and then a tunnel under Carlingford Road to Epping to enter the new stub tunnels supposedly being constructed (the old ones for this line are to be used for the NWRL). The Waratah trains have an acceleration and braking rate of 1 m/s^2 (for how long?) and a top speed presumably at least 80 km/h, so should be able to do this section in 3 minutes or less. It follows that if the new line were single track, and the timetables correctly aligned, 8 trains per hour in each direction could just about be feasible, with 6 trains in each direction easily obtainable. At the other end of the line the distance from the existing line south of Camellia Station to Parramatta Station – following Hassell St and Argyll St is less than 2 km, so there would be no problem with a single track over this section. And the trains would surface west of Church St Parramatta to join the existing western line tracks.

    If the Waratah trains have sufficient power to give an acceleration of 1 m/s^2 there would be no problem with a gradient of only 5%, or even 10%. From my journeys (few) on Waratah trains I think that the stairs up and down are wider than on the Tangara trains. Is this correct? If so there should be less of a problem in alighting or boarding passengers and they will negotiate the wider stairs more easily, even though not two people abreast.

    I have no problem with single deck trains with plenty of doors and few seats where stops are very frequent and journeys are short – think the London Underground stock, though one should note that the new S stock (with tramway type acceleration, 1.3 m/s^2) with three doors each side replaces stock with four doors per side. On longer routes seating becomes more important than standing space. I wonder, after the NWRL comes into operation, how soon it will be decided that the single deck stock should be shifted to another line where it would be more suitable, and new double deck stock is designed that will fit in the new tunnels. Those from the UK may remember the “Low Bridge Buses” where the upper deck gangway was at one side, in a lowered recess, which projected down into the the lower deck, so that passengers on the far right had limited headroom. One can perhaps envision a similar arrangement on the NWRL DD trains, with, on the lower deck two side gangways with banks of four seats in the middle, and on the upper deck pairs of seats with a lowered centre gangway, recessed into the lower deck and giving lower headroom over the centre seats! Or vice versa!

  72. Ray says:

    I understand what you’re saying Simon about the Bankstown Line being excluded from the rapid transit concept in my scenario, but I was only attempting to suggest a more simplified operating structure with all stations rapid transit services to both Revesby and Hurstville, rather than mixing all stations and express services on the Bankstown Line, which would limit its frequency (again I stress I don’t agree with the whole rapid transit concept anyway).

    With regard to the Cabramatta terminus for the rapid transit scheme, you may well be right. I haven’t been out that way for some time, so I can’t really offer an informed comment.

    I also think you are right on the chances of the Maldon-Dombarton link being built, particularly under the current Federal Coalition government (although that could obviously change in the future). Bear in mind that the reference in the leaked report about co-existing with freight was with regard to the then proposed compatible single deck rolling stock operating on an integrated network, not the rapid transit stock which came later as part of a separate network.

    I can’t say for certain if the Sydenham to Wolli Creek sextup is feasible, but again I’m just floating an idea in my navel gazing. The connection between the rapid transit Illawarra Local to Hurstville and the rapid transit East Hills Main to Revesby could be a flat Junction, or a grade separated flyover. The connection from the East Hills express tracks to the additional sextup tracks at Wolli Creek would have to be a flyover. Although costly, it would nonetheless be achievable. The East Hills express tracks would also obviously merge with the Airport Line, providing alternative paths to the City Circle. The rapid transit tracks would be completely separated from the current network. There’d be no merging from the East Hills Express tracks to the extended sextup until it reached the Bankstown Line just before Sydenham Junction.

  73. Ray says:

    I respect your opinions rails, but we do appear to have diametrically opposed philosophies on how the Sydney rail network should be managed and expanded. That doesn’t necessarily mean that either of us is right. Let’s just say that we agree to disagree. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so let’s just see how it pans out (although I’ll probably be dead by then).

    However, one point which I will vehemently challenge is the secrecy surrounding the future of the Sydney rail network. For example, the leaked SMH report, which disclosed that there were still some issues to be resolved, was followed less than a month later by the Sydney Rail Futures proposal. This suggests that the bureaucrat’s recommendations were ignored and that there was another agenda operating behind the scenes.

    You have to look no further than the farcical North West Rail Link community consultation. The initial NWRL proposal by the current government was presented as a fully integrated double deck operation in the consultation process and there was no suggestion that it would be operated as a privately run single deck shuttle service from Rouse Hill to Chatswood. Yet it mysteriously emerged as the preferred option. The community was never been given the opportunity to debate this change of policy.

    In fact during the latter consultation process for the Environmental Assessment, there were an overwhelming number of submissions opposed to the government’s plan, but they were summarily dismissed with the bland comment that the proposed rapid transit plan had already been committed to and in effect no further consultation was contemplated, So much for open transparent debate.

    What about the south? They have never been given the opportunity voice their opinions. It’s just been a case of this is the way it’s going to be, so just get used to it.

  74. rails says:

    Very true Ray, you are a very knowledgeable and informed poster and I do take what you say with a lot of consideration but yes none of us really know until it all happens, we can only form our own view based on our own beliefs and the information available.

    I know I am in the minority on this page and on Railpage but there are other sites that I am on that are very supportive of these plans either in part or as a whole, its also funny that there are a few people that were quite disappointed that the Single Deckers aren’t making it to the inner west line due to the frustrations they have with the existing format. So it really does depend on the individual I guess.

    I have no knowledge regarding the NWRL consultation so couldn’t comment on that however there would be no reason to get community feedback on the changes for the South of Sydney being so far away, you would expect the next lot of feedback would be for residents from Chatswood to North Sydney although even that is a fair way down the track.

  75. Ray says:

    Thanks rails, appreciate your response.

    I agree that it would have made more sense to extend the rapid transit concept to the Inner West Local rather than the Bankstown Line (Plan B) , but the leaked report also revealed that it just wasn’t feasible with its comment that “the link to the Inner West Line was removed to simplify the tunnel connection at the southern end (around Redfern) and instead provides connections to Bankstown, Hurstville and possibly Revesby”. Of course these comments at the time were in the context of an integrated network.

    With regard to the south, unfortunately they will have no choice once the NWRL and new CBD link rapid transit proposals are in place.

  76. rails says:

    Yeah, I was very disappointed to read that and it opened up certain concerns about the SIngle Deck plan I alluded to above. Previously I could see how they could use the inner west line and its new link to a separate CBD tunnel as an excellent way to provide the capacity for the Western and Northern lines, there are a number of different ways this could be done too. Some of these could differ vastly to what the Government has said will happen in the South of Sydney but as I said above I don’t believe any of that is set in stone, we have a long time before the Single Deckers get to Central and a lot can happen in that time.

  77. Ray says:

    Yes rails, you have a point. Although I’m not a fan of the single deck concept, it would at least have left options open if it had proceeded as part of a compatible integrated network. However, the separate rapid transit proposal complicates things.

    One thing which I’d be interested to know about is what the difficulty is in connecting the new CBD link with the Inner West Line at Eveleigh. It of course depends on where the tunnel portal was to be located and I can only assume that because the Inner West Local and Illawarra Local tracks run closely together between Redfern Station and the Macdonaldtown turnback and storage sidings there just isn’t enough room for it. Once you get past the Illawarra Junction divergence, there would be room where the rail corridor widens as part of the sextup proposal for the line from Erskineville to Sydenham. I don’t think the same situation applies on the Inner West Local.

  78. TandemTrainRider says:

    > I don’t believe any of that is set in stone,

    I think you’ll find the root cause of all these problems: the size of the NWRL tunnels is quite literally set in stone (or soon will be).

  79. rails says:


    I would love to know that answer too, I don’t know exactly what they have looked at either. I believe there is another option to serve the inner west line but I would imagine that they have not reviewed this and probably unlikely to do so since it would see some minor downtime on all three of the tracks along the Western corridor and they seem adverse to doing anything that would risk upsetting that corridor. If it happened there would be two options,

    1. Run the entire Main South/ Inner West Corridor from Glenfield and Liverpool to just before Newtown and send it into the new tunnel. Newtown and MacDonaldtown would join the Western line. This would see the Bankstown line running as it does now but using Single Deck trains.

    2. Run the inner west line from the Homebush turnback to the new tunnel before Newtown. Again Newtown and MacDonaldtown would join the Western line. This would retain express trains for the Main South and still see the Bankstown line terminate at a new Cabramatta station like the existing plan.

    Either option would see the Mains line supporting the Interurbans still but it would also feed the North Shore line. The Suburban line would solely run into the City Circle. There are a number of variations of how you could separate out the Western, Northern and Southern corridors based on these two options so I wouldn’t go into that past saying that there should be enough capacity to provide direct CBD Services for all lines while for all or at least the most part retaining separate sectors depending on what you were trying to achieve. Its also obviously adheres to the same two tier concept they are trying to apply to the Illawarra and East Hills line.

    Having said this if they follow the path they are going on now there is one project that would solve all the issues and would cost the Government very little to implement but ticks all the boxes for the west and provides all the capacity you could need for the other lines. However I think unfortunately the WestConnex has put that one away, although it could still happen in the future.

  80. TandemTrainRider says:

    > One thing which I’d be interested to know about is what the difficulty is in connecting the new CBD link with the Inner West Line at Eveleigh.

    I don’t think the difficulty is with the physical connection, the difficulty is with the capacity and sectorisation after the Inner West is taken out of the heavy rail network. They still need to run 2 x tier 2 sectors at full capacity down that corridoor (unless Bankstown stays HR I suppose), as well as tier 3. There are “only” 3 track pairs, and if you assign one to each tier then someone ends up without enough capacity.

    A few years ago I suggested a possible solution might be a parallel busway along the inner west, allowing the local track pair to operate as a trunk route with HR stations only at Burwood, Ashfield and Newtown – a true 2nd tier line with the 1st tier palmed off to the roads.

    Even without the complication of a 3rd tier, management of this corridoor is problematic. A 3rd tier makes it impossible. I suspect this is why the RT wasn’t considered for the Inner West.

    The other route probably ideally suited to RT is the Airport and Inner East Hills line. But apart from the connection difficulties, this line *needs* to stay HR as it will eventually need to connect to a second Sydney airport at Badgeries Creek (or maybe Winton). I guess they could always try and move the airport back to Holdsworthy again :-).

  81. Ray says:

    This is slightly off-topic, but with the revelation that the NSW Labor Party has now pulled ahead of the Coalition Government in the polls and according to the Nielsen pollster, suggests there is a continued shift in voter sentiment that had begun by mid-to-late last year, it would be interesting to speculate on what the Labor Party’s policy might be with regard to Sydney’s Rail Futures if was elected in 2015.

    Having regard to the fact that most of the transport planning bureaucrats under their watch before they were tipped out in 2011 are still there, except for the new Director-General of Transport (from Queensland), would a new Labor Government change tack?

    The most critical element of the present government’s proposed Rail Futures, is the narrower tunnel design for the North West Rail Link which will impact on the eventual expansion across the harbour and to the south. Contracts are already in place, with the TBM’s ( Tunnel Boring Machines) under construction overseas. According to the government’s timetable for the NWRL, they are due to start operation in the latter part of this year. Would it be too late for a new Labor Government in March 2015 to halt further work on the tunnel construction, pending a renegotiation of contracts to construct the tunnels to the standard loading gauge which could potentially accommodate double deck trains, at no doubt considerably greater expense? IMO, the extra cost would be justified when you look at it in the context of the long term viability of the Sydney rail network. Unfortunately, that’s the price we would have to pay to correct the poor decision making by the present government. You can look no further than the Airport Rail Link, also a Coalition debacle, to demonstrate how their privatised rail policies have failed and the State is now picking up the cost to make it more viable and increasing patronage by reducing station access fees.

    The Labor Party’s shadow transport spokesperson Penny Sharpe seems to have a good handle on things (although I must admit I thought the same thing about Gladys Berejiklian when she was in opposition) so I hope she is able to espouse a credible alternative policy for the future of the Sydney rail system in the lead up to the election next year.

  82. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Ray asks:

    “Having regard to the fact that most of the transport planning bureaucrats under their watch before they were tipped out in 2011 are still there, except for the new Director-General of Transport (from Queensland), would a new Labor Government change tack?”

    I would suggest that the answer is emphatically no – they would not change tack. Remember it was under the previous Labor administration that the Metro single deck scheme was spawned. I do not believe that this was foisted on Transport NSW by the ALP politicians – if it had, it would have been dumped by the Liberals. Someone in Transport NSW is strongly in favour of single deck operation, notwithstanding all its problems, and is sufficiently powerful to get his way.

    It is anyone’s guess as to whether the TBMs could be enlarged to give full diameter tunnels at a reasonable cost – I would suggest that for rock tunnelling it would only be necessary to enlarge the cutting head – all the back end – which is a major part of a TBM – would remain the same. For soft ground it may be different, as there has to be support for the tunnel material until the lining can be inserted – this may be more complicated and expensive. More important, perhaps, is the thickness of the lining for soft rock tunnels, it may be possible to reduce this – think more frequent but smaller stiffening members.

  83. TandemTrainRider says:

    > It is anyone’s guess as to whether the TBMs could be enlarged to give full diameter tunnels at a reasonable cost
    My intuition tells me probably not.

    But they could very easily remove the 5% grade requirement – that’d probably save on construction costs.

    Even if the TBMs are completely refactored, I think that could be made to work financially if other bits of the project made necessary by the new form factor: specifically the dedicated maintenance facility – are cut from the project.

    It would not be too hard to devise an alternate policy that delivers the NWRL faster, cheaper and with direct connections. Whether anyone would believe the ALP could deliver this is another matter :-).

  84. TandemTrainRider says:

    Another thought on this …. how much tunnelling are they likely to do in ~six months of construction? Not a great deal I’d suggest. It would be impressive if they’d managed to get anywhere at all of actual tunnel. TBMs into the pits and a bit of testing tops.

  85. Ray says:

    In response to Dudley Horscroft’s comment about someone powerful enough in the transport bureaucracy to get his way with regard to the future operation of the Sydney rail system, I think you can look no further than Rod Staples. He was there under the previous Labor administration and was no doubt influential in proposing the North West Metro and the later disastrous CBD to Rozelle Metro. I know of his past history and I have never agreed with his philosophy about the future direction of transport planning for Sydney. I am still perplexed by the decision of the Coalition government when coming into power to retain most of the transport bureaucrats, including the Director-General, Les Wielinga , who has since retired. It will be interesting to see what influence, if any, the new Director-General will have on the government’s policy for Sydney’s Rail Futures.

    One thing which I would love to know, is the details of the previous Labor Government’s Transport Master Plan, before the then Premier, Nathan Rees, was unceremoniously deposed by Kristina Keneally on the very day that the Master Plan was to be released. The subsequently released plan was obviously a watered down version, which proposed amongst other things, the CBD – Rozelle Metro.

    Whilst there would obviously be some difficulty in renegotiating contracts to construct the tunnels on the NWRL to the standard loading gauge, the need to convert the existing Epping to Chatswood Rail Link to the new metro configuration could potentially be avoided, also saving considerable expense. It would depend on how far the tunnelling had advanced, bearing in mind that the tunnel lining carried out up to that stage would also have an impact on the feasibility of widening the tunnel diameter.

  86. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Tandem Train rider suggests “But they could very easily remove the 5% grade requirement – that’d probably save on construction costs.”

    There is no reason I can see that removing a 5% grade requirement would reduce construction costs. I suppose it depends on what the alternative is – 3% or 7%.

    But a 5% grade requirement is very desirable on operational grounds as it can provide a decent grade up into a station and a decent grade down out of the station, thus providing regenerative braking that can actually be returned 100%. No waste energy in batteries or super capacitors.

    There are two methods of saving money on the scheme. Currently the line in the Norwest Boulevard area is mostly to be underground. This road is four lanes, mostly with a wide median. It would be feasible to elevate this section, say, immediately west from Brookhollow Avenue, using pillars set in the median. The current NWRL site shows a long curving bridge where the line has been elevated at the western end and it crosses over Windsor Road – a similar bridge would be suitable where the line turns from Norwest Boulevard to Windsor Road. Elevated construction should be about half the cost of tunnel construction, or perhaps even less.

    Further north, parallel to the Old Windsor Road, the line should be at ground level except where it is needed to be elevated to cross major roads. A suitable location is the bus transitway – which would need a bit of straightening here and there! The ground level line should be about one quarter of the cost of the elevated line.

    Substantial savings are possible, and the result would be better.

  87. Ray says:

    This is all purely hypothetical of course, but in the possibly unlikely event that the Labor Party wins the next election, it is worth reflecting on what their previous policy was with regard to the North West Rail Link (remembering that most of the same bureaucrats as today were running the show then).

    In an about face, the then Keneally Labor Government lodged a submission in August 2010 with Infrastructure Australia for funding for the NWRL, reverting to the original NWRL proposal as an integrated double deck operation, discarding the North West Metro/CBD-Rozelle Metro concept. Their submission also raised the option of reintroducing the direct connection from the NWRL to the Northern Line in the Cheltenham/Beecroft area.

    Despite vociferous opposition from the local community, this is nonetheless an option which warranted further consideration.

    Now that the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track project as part of the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor Program is well underway (again despite the opposition from the locals) this will ultimately lead to the full quadruplication from Epping to Hornsby. A connection from the NWRL could take advantage of this new infrastructure. All of this, including a tunnel connection, could be achieved within the existing rail corridor. It all depends on where the actual connection is located , which need not necessarily be where it was originally proposed. There are other options which are less likely to create community opposition.

    The advantage of the direct connection to the Northern Line is that it would provide greater flexibility in directing services from the NWRL, with the limited number of train paths available until a new CBD link is built, by either the Northern Line via Strathfield or the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link via the North Shore Line. This wouldn’t have been possible even under the current government’s initial plan for the NWRL (integrated Double Deck with direct tunnel connection to Epping).

    The other advantage is that there would be a considerable saving in the cost of tunnel construction by connecting with the Northern Line instead of the much longer connection with the existing underground platforms at Epping. The steep gradient to pass under Devlins Creek between Epping and Cherrybrook would also no longer be an issue as it would be avoided. It is all a bit deja vu, when you consider the mistake made by the previous Labor Government in pandering to a vociferous minority to construct the ECRL under the Lane Cove River at Fullers Bridge in Lane Cove National Park instead of a low level bridge which created a much steeper alignment (I think about 3%) which Tangara’s were initially unable to negotiate. It also made a station at the UTS campus at Lindfield impossible because of the deep alignment. When will they learn?

    However, it all depends on what the Labor Party’s policy will be in the lead-up to the next election and whether any change in policy is possible having regard to how far advanced construction of the NWRL has progressed.

  88. TandemTrainRider says:

    > the previous Labor Government in pandering to a vociferous minority to construct the ECRL under
    > the Lane Cove River at Fullers Bridge in Lane Cove National Park instead of a low level bridge
    > which created a much steeper alignment (I think about 3%) which Tangara’s were initially unable to
    > negotiate.

    The grades are 1:37 on the eastern side, 1:36 on the western side.

    IIRC the issue with the Tangaras is while they couild handle the grades, they couldn’t do it consistently on a shuttle service without exceeding the duty cycle of their traction motors.

    The bigger problem with this alignment is the loopy route (line goes up past Roseville station) and lower track speed (60kph max on those descents).

    But I agree, that was a massive planning failure IMHO. The Environemental Impact Assessment process went from trying to minimising adverse environmental imapcts to trying to guarantee there would be none at all.

  89. Ray says:

    Too true TTR.

  90. QPP says:

    I don’t see any chance whatsoever of the NWRL operating mode decisions being altered, regardless of what happens in the election in 2015.

    To change at that point would be monumental and it’s not just about altering the width of the tunnels, that at that point would be well under construction.

    From an engineering/construction point of view, you would have to immediately halt construction, pull out the TBMs, order new ones that will drive a bigger tunnel, engineer a way of altering the sections already constructed, engineer your way around all the knock on effects, renegotiate the tunnelling contract.

    And to do all that you’d have to first work out and re-engineer what your operating model was actually going to be, as this in turn drives the requirements for all the civil parts of the job. Bear in mind the OTS contractor (the main PPP consortium, with a $3-4 bn contract) will have been in place and working for months at that time, so you are tearing up everything they have done (and therefore paying them)……and renegotiating the contract for the Skytrain contractor, and cancelling orders for trains, and and and…..

    ……I could go on, for a hundred pages or more. It’s inconceivable that such a change would cost anything less than 100s of $millions all up, and delay the NWRL by a minimum of 3-5 years. After the NW and CBD Metro debacles, it’s inconceivable that any state government is going to do that. Particular a Labor one – they could then be accused of twice over wasting 100s of $ms on transport projects that went nowhere, and of pushing Sydney’s rail system 20 years back as a result.

    It’s just not going to happen.

    There’s no telling the Beecroft/Cheltenham NIMBYs that though. They were out in “force” at Cheltenham station on the subject yesterday morning. A cynic might suggest they know very well nothing will change, they are just giving themselves some legitimacy to be outraged for the next x years that the government doesn’t listen to them……

  91. Daniel says:

    A very very poor plan in my frank opinion. I doubt switching lines to metro operation will do much if anything to improve the existing service. The lines were designed for heavy rail and I find it difficult to imagine their suitability for metro operation due to factors such as station spacing.
    Whatever people think of Nathan Rees; his metro plans should be further pursued. Plan and build three lines that in the CBD intersect each other and interchange with the suburban trains over 15-20 years.
    Make the three lines cover six deprived and needing corridors;
    * underneath ANZAC parade to Maroubra with a station serving UNSW and the western slide of Moore park
    * Underneath the inner west between the South line and Inner West lines linking the following suburbs/areas not well linked via roads; Enmore park, North Marrickville (close to the high school), Dulwich Hill (the suburb, not the station), an interchange with the light rail, Ashbury and Croydon Park. With a possible interchange with Erskinville or St. Peters station and a station in the Waterloo area before the CBD. And the possibility to extend further westward in the future.
    * Underneath the Inner West following more or less the same alignment as the scrapped WestMetro with stations at: University of Sydney Camperdown, Annandale/Camperdown/Forest Lodge, East Leichhardt Under Styles St and close to Norton St, West Leichhardt (under Marion St) An interchange with Marion light rail station, Haberfield (close to the shops), Five Dock, Concorde, an interchange with Concorde West and terminating at the Olympic park. Focourse there could be another intermediate stop in the Canada Bay area. And in the future it could be extended to Parramatta.
    *Underneath the Parramatta River following more or less the same alignment as the NorthWestMetro and linking Pymont, Rozelle, Drummoyne, Henley/Huntley’s point, Gladesville and Ryde. The line could then be extended to Epping in the future via a variety of possible alignments.
    * Another harbour crossing with a possible station at the rocks and then directly to North Sydney and then to Crows Nest, Naremburn, Northbridge Willoughby then terminating at Chastswood with the possibility of future extensions.
    * Another harbour crossing (expensive I know) serving a station at Neutral bay possibly prior to an interchange at Kings Cross. Than on to Mosman (possibly via Cremorne) and then swing North to Bowgowlah, FreshWater then terminating at Dee Why. Once again it would link suburbs not distant in proximity yet not conveniently linked via the roads. And it could be extended further in the future.

    So those three corridors should be connected to three initial lines and they should get priority funding over anything and especially at the expense of any new motorways (i.e. WesConnex). I’m aware that they would take some years to construct but their benefits would be immediate and considerable.
    Those three lines could also form the nucleus for future lines serving other corridors such as out to Lane Cove or out east to Vaucluse via double bay and Rose bay.
    Solving Sydney’s appalling transport situation will be expensive any way, so they may as well make the maximum impact.

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