Asset sale to fund Sydney Rapid Transit

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Transport
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Video: Rebuilding NSW, NSW Government (10 June 2014)

A $15bn asset sale of the poles and wires business, announced today by the Premier Mike Baird, will fund new transport infrastructure in Sydney with the dual centrepieces being an under the Harbour rail crossing to create a ‘Sydney Rapid Transit’ (SRT) network and North-South extension of the WestConnex freeway. The sale will involve a 99 year lease of the electricity distribution network, but will exclude the regional poles and wires after political pressure from regional MPs.

Sydney Rapid Transit

The new SRT network will see single deck trains operating from Rouse Hill to Bankstown via the CBD and will be built in 3 stages. Stage 1 will be the North West Rail Link, which will also convert the existing Epping to Chatswood Rail Link to rapid transit style operations, and open in 2019.

The Sydney Rapid Transit line will include 3 new CBD stations - Central, Pitt St (Town Hall), and Martin Place. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit Fact Sheet, p. 2)

The Sydney Rapid Transit line will include 3 new CBD stations – Central, Pitt St (Town Hall), and Martin Place. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit Fact Sheet, p. 2)

Stage 2 will be an under the Harbour rail crossing and CBD railway with stations at St Leonards, Victoria Cross (North Sydney), Martin Place, Pitt St (Town Hall), and Central Station – but no station at Circular Quay. Stage 3 will involve linking this up to the Bankstown Line, with SRT trains terminating at Bankstown Station – though no stations are indicated between Central and Sydenham and the current alignment does not pass through Redfern.

Proposed Sydney Rapid Transit network. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit, p. 1)

Proposed Sydney Rapid Transit network. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rebuilding NSW – Fact Sheet 3, p. 1)

Initial plans, as outlined in Sydney’s Rail Future in 2012, showed an SRT network that also included a line out to Hurstville and continuing on from Bankstown to Lidcombe and Cabramatta. Even the changes to last year’s timetable, which made trains on T4 effectively run all stops to Hurstville and then terminate or run semi-express to Hurstville before continuing appeared to be setting the line up to be converted into rapid transit style operation. The changes to the Bankstown end mean that the line terminates about 20km out of the CBD, neutralising many criticisms that the line was “too long to be a metro”, but also raises questions over what to do with the remaining line out to Lidcombe and Cabramatta. Transport expert Gerry Glazebrook has previously recommended converting these lines to light rail as part of a wider light rail network surrounding Parramatta, which in the context of recent government support for such a network does question whether this is under consideration.

Gerry Glazebrooks Western Sydney light rail network, shown as incorporated into the Sydney Morning Herald's wider Public Transport Inquiry, involved converting the Western ends of the T3 Bankstown Line beyond Bankstown Station into light rail. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Public Transport Inquiry, p. 185.)

Gerry Glazebrooks Western Sydney light rail network, shown in blue as incorporated into the Sydney Morning Herald’s wider Public Transport Inquiry, involved converting the Western ends of the T3 Bankstown Line beyond Bankstown Station into light rail. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Public Transport Inquiry, p. 185.)

The benefits of SRT are outlined as an increase in capacity through the CBD equivalent to 60% more trains and 100,000 additional passengers per hour. It’s the latter, rather than the former that matters, even according to the Government’s own factsheet:

“The total number of people reliably carried on a train line in an hour is the true measure of rail capacity”Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit Fact Sheet, p. 1 (10 June 2014)

Single deck metro systems overseas achieve a capacity of 40,000 passengers per hour in each direction, compared to 24,000 passengers per hour in each direction for Sydney's double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit Factsheet, p. 1)

Single deck metro systems overseas achieve a capacity of 40,000 passengers per hour in each direction, compared to 24,000 passengers per hour in each direction for Sydney’s double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Sydney Rapid Transit Fact Sheet, p. 1)

The 100,000 additional passengers seems to come down to an additional 40,000 passengers/hour in each direction from the new line and then another 20,000 passengers/hour on the Western Line from infrastructure improvements. However, the 40,000 figure is listed as a target, and will depend on factors like the amount of seating per train, crush capacity for standing passengers, and how well the system copes when highly patronised. Existing double deck trains are often cited as having a maximum hourly capacity of 24,000 passengers/hour in each direction. Few specific details appear available about the Western Line improvements, with Government documents giving general comments about ‘advanced train control systems’, ‘upgrading power supply’, ‘building additional track’, and ‘new stabling’.

WestConnex

Additions to the WestConnex freeway will also be added, with a Northern extension linking up the M4 to the Anzac Bridge and a Southern extension linking up the M5 to Sutherland.

WestConnex and its new North-South extension to the Anzac Bridge and Sutherland. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rebuilding NSW Fact Sheet 4, p. 1.)

WestConnex and its new North-South extension to the Anzac Bridge and Sutherland. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rebuilding NSW Fact Sheet 4, p. 1.)

Commentary: Harbour Crossing is why NWRL is single deck

The Government has been dogmatic in its insistence that the North West Rail Link (NWRL) be single deck, and that the new tunnels be built narrower and steeper than the current double deck trains can operate through. What it has not done is to explain its reasoning why, and as a result just about every transport expert, lobby group, academic, journalist, and advocate has become an opponent of its plans. Yet this under the Harbour crossing shows why the NWRL must be single deck – a double deck train would require stations that are too deep.

It now appears that even single deck train are unable to climb up from under the Harbour quickly enough to reach the surface for a station at Circular Quay. With double deck trains, how much further would it be before a station was possible at all? The Pitt St Station near Town Hall? Central Station perhaps?

The Epping to Chatswood Rail Link was originally devised to include a bridge over the Lane Cover River, but opposition to this required it to tunnel under the river. The result meant removing a station at Kuring-gai (where UTS previously had a campus which later closed in part due to poor transport) and making the remaining stations incredibly deep – North Ryde is 35m underground. Had this been designed for single deck trains, as the rest of the NWRL will be, this may have been avoided.

UUPDATE (9:23PM, 10 June 2014): Bold words added to the paragraph below for clarity.

The NWRL itself will have a station at Castle Hill that is 25m underground, but with double deck trains the shallow gradient would require it to be 70m underground, twice as deep as North Ryde. This is so deep that escalators would, to quote Transport for NSW, “probably not even be an option” and all passengers would be required to use elevators to travel between platform and concourse.

The proposed Castle Hill Station will be 25m underground with single deck trains, but would be 70m underground with double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, Rapid Transit System.)

The proposed Castle Hill Station will be 25m underground with single deck trains, but would be 70m underground with double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, North West Rail Link Fact Sheet, p. 2.)

It is unfortunate that this means current double deck trains will be excluded from the new line. But Sydney has a rail network that is moving towards being operated more as independent “sectors” that do not interact with each other. Rather than being a hinderance, this is a feature that prevents disruptions in one part of the network from spilling over to other parts of the network. Nor is it the case that future double deck trains could not be built to fit into narrower tunnels and travel at steeper gradients. So in the long term, towards the end of the century, options remain open to mix and match how the rail network is organised – just as is being done now with the creation of the Sydney Rapid Transit network.

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Comments
  1. Alex says:

    “The NWRL itself will have a station at Castle Hill that is 25m underground, but with double deck trains the shallow gradient would require it to be 70m underground, twice as deep as North Ryde. This is so deep that escalators would not be an option, and all passengers would be required to use elevators to travel between platform and concourse.”

    I’m puzzled by this. I’ve recently returned from a trip to Tbilisi in Georgia and travelled a couple of times on the metro. Rustaveli station, the deepest on the network at 60 meters has two single-run escalators 120 meters long. There are deeper stations with longer escalators in Russia and Ukraine.

    I’m not saying this is desirable, but it is feasible.

  2. @Alex –

    Fair (nuanced) point. I’ve made a minor edit to reflect that. I was originally quoting TfNSW, but failed to omit the ‘probably’ at the beginning.

    I do wonder if that sort of depth could only be achieved in former Communist/Asian/Middle Eastern countries. I personally took the escalators at Wheaton Station on the DC Metro, which is 35m underground. There is one station even deeper, Forest Glen at 60m, but it is elevator only.

    I’d imagine that Australian standards would require a 70m deep station to use elevators only, though even if escalators were also allowed, that depth alone is worrying from a construction cost and then operational perspective.

  3. Alex says:

    Thanks – I agree stations at this depth are probably not desirable, especially when serviced by escalators and especially those typical of Tbilisi and other former Soviet countries where the escalators descend in an unbroken run to the platform level.

    This approach raises a number of issues. First is emergency access and evacuation – there don’t appear to be any alternate exits from the Tbilisi station except via the train tunnels. Second is that because the escalators there are a single run the station entrance has to be a considerable distance horizontally from the platform level – presumably in the case of Rustaveli station, 60m away. This would make adding lifts for disabled access somewhat problematic.

    Third is just the sheer amount of time it takes to travel between the platforms and the entrance, though this has its plus side. Few people bother to barge down the escalators to catch a train, partly because it doesn’t make much difference and also because like most former Soviet metros when you get down there the trains themselves are very frequent and fast (and incidentally incredibly noisy).

  4. QPP says:

    Good. I’m fully supportive of the government’s plans and am very pleased the SRT plans are being pushed forward with a realistic route and a funding route attached (although I can see why some might not like that side of it).

    I always thought the whole obsession with double deckers for NWRL was a complete sideshow and in capacity terms neither here nor there. Nor did I ever believe that the lack of integration with a network that is severely bottlenecked and suffers from a lack of redundancy and a very high level of public subsidy was a problem. I would far rather have interconnecting lines, I don’t care if rolling stock from one line can or can’t be used on another. In rolling stock cost terms it makes almost no difference, and in reality in a compromised state it’s not as if you can just re-route trains and run an on-the-fly timetable in an urban environment anyway, railways just can’t be operated like that.

    NWRL never made total sense as the metro shuttle its opponents insisted it was, but then the government were always open about it being the first step in a process towards a new network. We now have a roadmap (scuse the pun) towards that network

  5. QPP says:

    I meant to add, I dislike the received wisdom that seems to be abroad that the entire industry is against the single deck NWRL plans. I’m not, and I hear very little such talk amongst the design consultants, construction contractors, rail operators and TfNSW people I spend most of my time with. I would say the reverse to be quite honest.

    Most of the opposition *I* have seen/heard (and I’m not saying this is wholly unrepresentative either) has come from journalists, superannuated ex-railway people, RailCorp insiders, unions and NIMBYs. Obviously there will be others opposed but as a professional engineer working in the railways it particularly grates when some of these constituencies put words in the mouths of “rail engineers” – we do not all hate the plans

  6. Tandem Train Rider says:

    As usual, lies, lies and more lies to justify (to my mind) an incorrect decision.

    I just looked up the HK ridership stats: http://gia.info.gov.hk/general/201106/08/P201106080126_0126_79963.pdf

    And the max is 52K rather than 60k (though the wikipedia data is a bit old). And never mind their trains are 25m/15% longer. CrossRails? 200m trains, though with a probable effective headway of 28tph IIRC.

    There is no way in the wide world the NWRL format will do 40k PAX/hr, because it’s only a 3 door format and will have similar boarding rate issues to the current DDs when the bulk of the patronage interchanges and two or three stations. It will also have a similar problem with CityRail in unequal passenger distribution because of constrained entry/exit points on the legacy collection platforms.

    The busiest European metro lines typically max out in the low 30kPAX/hr. There is only one line in all of Europe that achieves >40kPax/hr, and that’s RER Line A.

    That said, given the collection routes it’s inconceivable this new line will generate that much patronage anyway

    In terms of capacity we don’t lose all that much with the SD format (only ~10%). The big loss is lack of integration means the new track pair doesn’t deliver much benefit.

    I think there are two notable changes to the plan vs Sydney’s Rail Future: ditching the Hurstville route, and ditching branching at Birrong. I think they have come to the realisation they can’t just cut off HR access to Port Kembla other than via Mossy. And they have also probably realised the problems of full automation and branching.

  7. ObserverOfThings says:

    Ok so from Macquarie Uni station getting to Town Hall station is about 36 minutes right now. When the NWRL is done (but not the new Sydney harbour line), I’ll have to get off at Chatswood and change to get to Town Hall, I don’t know how much extra time this will add but it will be more. When the harbour line is done, and I can stay on the same train straight to Pitt Street, does anyone have an estimate what my journey time might be?

  8. JC says:

    All looks OK but seems to suffer from obvious flaws – perhaps its the north shore bias of the liberals having no idea what happens in the city.

    It seems they are being deliberately perverse on putting the lowest density of stations where there is the highest density of activity (residential/employment).

    What about stations at Barangaroo (at least foreshadowed) and Sydney University both of which appear to be on the route?

    And where does this leave Erskineville and St Peters? Surely this dense area would benefit from metro service? or do they end up on a Hurstville to Bondi Junction semi-metro competing for track with the DDs from the Shire?

  9. QPP says:

    >>Ok so from Macquarie Uni station getting to Town Hall station is about 36 minutes right now. When the NWRL is done (but not the new Sydney harbour line), I’ll have to get off at Chatswood and change to get to Town Hall, I don’t know how much extra time this will add but it will be more. When the harbour line is done, and I can stay on the same train straight to Pitt Street, does anyone have an estimate what my journey time might be?<<

    Probably too soon to say (but won't be far off if they've worked out rough alignment). It ought to be faster than current services but don't expect your journey time to be halved

    It is true that with the Chatswood change you can expect your journey time to go up, a bit, but you should also expect the number of services to increase from MU – at the moment it's only 4 trains an hour but the NWRL is supposed to run 3 or 4 times that number.

  10. QPP says:

    >>In terms of capacity we don’t lose all that much with the SD format (only ~10%). The big loss is lack of integration means the new track pair doesn’t deliver much benefit.<<

    Can I ask what the issue is with integration (or lack of it)? Straight question. Opponents of the NWRL make a big thing of it but I'm not seeing what the problem is with running two systems

  11. Tony Bailey says:

    ‘The proposed Castle Hill Station will be 25m underground with single deck trains, but would be 70m underground with double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, North West Rail Link Fact Sheet, p. 2.)’

    You actually believe that?

    You believe the video that accompanied the Government announcement showing a single deck train with lots of two and two seats and only one person standing?

    Even their own planning-

    http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/integrated-public-transport-service-planning-guidelines-syd-metro.pdf

    Says-

    ‘Table 34 Train Service Planning – Service Performance Indicators

    Rapid Tier

    Capacity
    30% seated
    70% standing’

    There is nothing wrong with running services like that in inner areas with short journey time, but all of the way from Rouse Hill to the City when conventional Sydney trains would offer a lot more seats.?

  12. Tony Bailey says:

    Alex,

    And you might add that all new infrastructure under Tokyo needs to be at 50m because of the existing dense network.

  13. QPP says:

    >>‘The proposed Castle Hill Station will be 25m underground with single deck trains, but would be 70m underground with double deck trains. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW, North West Rail Link Fact Sheet, p. 2.)’<<

    That's not actually what it says. If you're going to quote, you must at least quote correctly

    It actually says:
    "This means that when the rapid
    transit network is extended under
    Sydney Harbour, the stations in the
    CBD will not need to be as deep.
    If the new system was built for
    double deck trains, stations would
    have to be about 70 m deep –
    twice the depth of any station on
    the current Sydney train network"

    and then later on:
    "On the new North West Rail Link
    stations, the deepest station is
    25 m underground at Castle Hill.
    This compares to North Ryde
    station, which is the deepest in
    Sydney at 35 m."

    Nowhere does it say that Castle Hill would be 25m underground running SD trains, but 70m with DD trains

  14. QPP says:

    I apologise Tony. The misquote wasn’t yours, it was Bambul’s I guess

  15. Alex says:

    @JC – I agree with you – the apparent lack of stations immediately south of the CBD on the stretch to Bankstown makes no sense. This is an area with increasing residential densities and lots of traffic generators – depending on the alignment you would think at least a station at or near Sydney Uni would be a no-brainer.

    @Bambul – I’m also puzzled as to what is meant to happen west of Bankstown – the schematic diagram seems to suggest retaining some sort of truncated conventional rail service between Liverpool, Cabramatta, Lidcombe and Bankstown.

    Garry (not Gerry) Glazebrook’s proposal to convert this network to light rail complemented his other proposal which is also shown in the map section from the SMH Public Transport Inquiry – a more direct heavy rail route between Bankstown and Liverpool via Bankstown airport. This would also work for the metro – in fact it would make more sense rather than terminating it at Bankstown.

    Incidentally the numbers quoted in the Sydney rapid transit brochure suggest that the central section of the line will have up to 30 trains an hour while the NW section will have 20 and the Bankstown end only 15. I would have thought that with automatic driverless trains that it would be far simpler to have everything running end-to-end rather than staging turnbacks either side of the CBD, or am I just being old-fashioned?

  16. Aenveigh says:

    Surely the only issue with DD trains achieving the grades of the SD fleet is the power/weight ratio, which could be improved by ordering appropriate rolling stock order to match. That way the NRWL fleet could interoperate, then later on as the rest of the Sydney fleet upgraded interchange could improve.
    Fewer future-proofing/interoperability issues then – it’s just replaceable rollingstock that need to change, not the concrete tunnels etc. And if you decide it doesn’t need to integrate, you don’t need to order the ‘high powered’ trains for the rest of the network.

  17. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > Can I ask what the issue is with integration (or lack of it)? Straight question. Opponents of the NWRL make a big thing of it but I’m not seeing what the problem is with running two systems

    One of the benefits of the second crossing – in fact the main benefit – is it adds another sector: allowing better sectorisation and more capacity on every other sector.

    The limitations of the NWRL format greatly restrict which routes it can be connected to on the south side. When the 3-tier concept was initially touted, the Inner West, Bankstown and Hurstville lines were all part of tier 1. With Sydney’s Rail Future the Inner West was excluded (presumably because of the difficulty of physical integration as well as capacity issues). Now it’s just Bankstown – the lightest used line on the network (bar Carlingford) – less the ex-Liverpool traffic.

    If it were done in compatible HR then we would be looking at something like the MREP: something that could take a significant load off the existing network.

    It’s not so much the choice of format but the inefficient/sub-optimal deployment of it arrising from that choice. It’s a battle of ideology over topography.

    As for the 70m deep platforms? IIRC the NWRL passed it’s EIS process using <3% grades and no super deep platforms.

    AIUI, the "need" for 5% capable trains is not to do with a station at Circular Quay (that needs to be deep to get under the ferries), it's about North Sydney. Again, and integrated format and the 2nd crossing doesn't necessarily need to stop at Nth Sydney (though would be preferable obviously).

  18. Tim says:

    Hi. Thanks for your blog.
    Excuse my ignorance if this has been answered elsewhere but isn’t the problem of a second harbour crossing tied to the north-west rapid metro still that it exacerbates rather than relieving the capacity problems on the western main line between Strathfield and Central since central coast trains will all have to go via this route whereas some now go via Macquarie Park? (This is from “1855 revisited”.
    Has the second harbour crossing been brought forward because the plan to terminate the north-west rail link at Chatswood was never viable anyway?
    (Surely all the transport infrastructure hoopla is just a smoke screen for the electricity privatisation anyway)

  19. Gareth says:

    It’s good that the three branches hideousness is gone, but this new design still raises some questions:

    Was consideration given to routing the line over the Harbour Bridge, either using the former tramway alignment or by putting the track underneath the existing roadway? If the former option was chosen, a new tolled road tunnel could be constructed as a PPP to ensure road users didn’t suffer a loss of capacity.

    Why wasn’t the line routed via the Airport Line to Revesby using the inner tracks from Wolli Creek? There are already some apartments at Bankstown and a swathe of new developments at Canterbury, but the rest of the Bankstown Line passes through low-density suburban areas. Admittedly, I can’t see that lasting, but the area certainly doesn’t justify a metro in its current state. By contrast, high density development around Green Square, Mascot and Wolli Creek is already well established, with plenty more on the way. The Airport is a major trip generator. Significant numbers of workers already use Green Square and Mascot stations and both stations experience large number of people boarding and alighting in the peak. Both stations have narrow platforms. Many commuters take a short journey from one of the Airport Line stations to either Wolli Creek of Central and change to another line. The corridor between the CBD and the airport forms part of the ‘Global Economic Arc’, which extends over the harbour, up to Chatswood, then west to Epping and the Hills. So this rapid transit line could follow the arc and provide a strong public transport cross-harbour connection to directly link the northern and southern sections together and provide access to the airport. Instead it heads to undistinguished suburbs, while the Airport Line has to struggle on with thoroughly unsuitable two doors per carriage, double deck rolling stock and a poorly designed connection to the City Circle.

    Where are the inner city stations? I understand that Rouse Hill to the City is a long journey and that the list of stations are provisional, but one station between Chatswood and North Sydney and none between Central and Sydenham? Extra stations between Chatswood and North Sydney would have promoted further high density development along this growing corridor – something the existing North Shore Line can’t do due to its legacy alignment. The new line doesn’t even acknowledge the Government’s own plan to develop the rail corridor between Central and Redfern. Integration of the new line with a capacity boosting redevelopment of Redfern station, which set it up for this new future would have gone some way to addressing the decision to avoid linking up with the Airport Line.

    What happens to parts of the existing network? The map on page 2 at http://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/miscellaneous/sydney_rapid_transit.pdf implies that the Bankstown – Lidcombe – Cabramatta lines become some sort of impotent shuttle service in the vein of the Carlingford Line. If the Airport and Revesby alignment had been chosen instead of the Bankstown one this issue wouldn’t have occurred. Additionally, the map also implies local Illawarra services will terminate at Sydenham, where passengers will be required to change to a rapid transit service. This seems like a half-arsed reinterpretation of the previous rapid transit plan, created because TfNSW couldn’t get the freight train access issues solved.

  20. QPP says:

    I believe some Central Coast trains now travel via the Shore line, and some via the Main North line. No need for any of that to change? I don’t think any go through the ECRL

    I don’t think the second harbour crossing has been “brought forward”. It was always an integral part of the whole RTN plans in the first place, it was just a question of “when?” and “funded how?”. The NWRL has never made total sense as a simple shuttle between Rouse Hill and Chatswood but then that was never the intention, a fact that certain RTN opponents seem to continually ignore. Nothing has changed here I don’t think.

  21. shiggyshiggy says:

    Obviously there are numerous reasons for why they have chosen to do what they doing. What’s interesting is the politics of it. Privatisation is not popular, mostly because the Australian experience of it has been pretty lacklustre. However, we have a state government with a commanding seat majority, comfortable two party lead, and a demoralised and side-lined opposition.

    Whether all this will remain the case is any ones guess. Robertson saw of privatisation when the ALP was last in power (so he would say) but that was a vastly different political circumstances. Is infrastructure spending a vote winner? Maybe,maybe not.

    Remember, we are now going into a period of voters feeling quite anxious over cuts to CURRENT services(health, education), so perhaps the idea of future benefits of future transport infrastructure wont have quite the same ring too it as it did a few years back. It is really irrelevant what side of the political spectrum you stand: The Coalitions federal budget is deeply unpopular, and this federal budget is so amazingly unpopular it can’t but affect state politics. If polling is anything to go by the NSW Coalition has remained relatively immune from the blow-back, but that was in a situation where not much boat-rocking had taken place….now we have a big privatisation program in an environment of distrust over politicians generally(ICAC) and broader suspicions of Coalition intentions(federal cuts/privatisation programs)

    All of this complicate by the upper house, and by an election next year. I’m impressed that Baird and Co have taken such a brave step..but what choice did they really have?

    Sydney will be a city of at least 7 million people by 2050. Something has to change.

  22. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > Why wasn’t the line routed via the Airport Line to Revesby using the inner tracks from Wolli Creek?

    Because they need the Airport Line to remain HR so it can connect to the 2nd airport – which *may* be as close as Badgeries Creek – but (at the time these decisions were made) may have been at Canberra, or somehwere inbetween.

  23. Rails says:

    Quick blogging on this Bambul, was surprised when it turned up in a google search. Nice one.

    The plan all looks good from the NWRL through the North Shore and CBD to Central, from here I was shocked yesterday to see how they had seemingly stuffed up the Southern end of this project. However reading through it I think there are a few hints to suggest that the link to Bankstown is only part 1 of stage 3. They specifically list that Bankstown will be getting 15 tph of the total 30 tph available.

    That suggests to me that they intend on a second branch or some form of further expansion, they make mention of the link to Hurstville in one of the media releases but I wonder if they are holding off until the planning for the rail to the Western Sydney airport rail link is done as they may end the remaining half of the line to Revesby or some other combination for the SW? There may be expensive changes or detailed engineering required for further expansion that become Stage 3 part 2.

    I don’t know what their reasoning is for stopping the line short at Bankstown station instead of a few stations further up, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t think its a distance thing despite me raising this as an issue in posts on this blog. I expect to see that they will look to expand the line further in time with either the full 30 tph going all the way to Liverpool or they add that second branch. Your light rail question is an interesting one though.

    I may be wrong but to me it seems that they are now going to complete the Erskineville to Sydenham Clearways project and my understanding is that line cant take over the other stations along this corridor which kind of defeats the purpose of the Single Deck form but does create more space for the existing network. It would make it much harder to add the Hurstville Branch too but the Revesby branch would be possible I think. Its also of course more expensive which may explain some of the decisions. If this is the case its interesting as I posted on here I thought this was their original plan.

    Not much discussion on the web about the Western Sydney rail package:

    “The package of works also includes upgrading the power supply to support the introduction of more frequent trains, building additional track to enable express trains to pass all-stops services, new stabling and works to existing track and junctions.”

    I am curious as to exactly what this contains.

  24. RichardU says:

    “something has to change”? Perhaps the emphasis on catering for more people from the north the travel to the CBD in the peak hour and asking electricity consumers in the whole state to pay for it.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if metro users were expected to pay a “station access fee” like Airport station users do. And complain loud and long about it.

  25. shiggyshiggy says:

    ““something has to change”? Perhaps the emphasis on catering for more people from the north the travel to the CBD in the peak hour and asking electricity consumers in the whole state to pay for it.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if metro users were expected to pay a “station access fee” like Airport station users do. And complain loud and long about it.”

    I wonder what the reaction would be if all users of the rail network had to pay the actual cost of their travel….I imagine it would be non too popular! You can say the same about a myriad of services people regularly use. I wonder what would happen if drivers had to pay the actual costs to society of the pollution cars produce, for instance. Making a point about the unfairness of societies cross-subsidies isn’t really making a point at all. Have you been trapped in a cave for the last century?

    Baird is making a judgement on what he and his government believes is electorally possible: that privatisation of one infrastructure asset is acceptable to voters if it is then spent on a another infrastructure asset. Whether or not its completely fair to the whole of NSW is beside the point. It only has to appear to be fair to the majority of voters, in the majority of seats(which are in Sydney, in case you hadn’t noticed). You can rail against the injustices of this, but all I can say is welcome to democracy.

  26. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > What’s interesting is the politics of it. Privatisation is not popular, mostly because the Australian
    > experience of it has been pretty lacklustre. However, we have a state government with a
    > commanding seat majority, comfortable two party lead, and a demoralised and side-lined
    > opposition.

    I think the politics of it are very clever, and will favour the LNP for many decades to come.

    At the 2015 election they have well and truly forked the ALP. The ALP can’t make pro public transport noises and anti-privatisation noises at the same time.

    And by the time the design screwups come home to roost, the ALP will almost certainly be back in government again (presumably in either 2019 or 2023) and they’ll wear the blame :-).

    Electricity Privatisation has been the stumbling block for the political arm of the NSW government (all flavours) for nearly 2 decades now.

    The real question is whether or not privatisation will get through the NSW senate, and you’d have to say the chances of that are next to none now, and probably pretty slim post 2015 even if the Coalition win the election comfortably.

    The real question for me is not so much what they are planning now, but what the contingencies are if/when they don’t get to privatise the power grid.

  27. moonetau says:

    Quoting Gareth:
    “Was consideration given to routing the line over the Harbour Bridge, either using the former tramway alignment or by putting the track underneath the existing roadway? If the former option was chosen, a new tolled road tunnel could be constructed as a PPP to ensure road users didn’t suffer a loss of capacity.”

    Exactly! How much cheaper would this option be?

    Furthermore retaining gov’t ownership of the poles and wires will result in greater revenue to the state over time than selling them in the next year or two.

    I can not see any sense in either the privatisation or in the deep and expensive crossing.
    Nor in Westconnex for that matter!

    The only explanation is that both decisions are ideologically driven.

  28. MrV says:

    Good that they are advancing plans, but I do wonder about the fact that the Epping-Chatswood and CBD to Bankstown section is already built, so they will be spending money on these lines to do the conversion but it doesn’t increase the public transport catchment area at all in these areas, and only marginally in the Chatswood – CBD section.
    There is also going to be significant disruption when these sections of the network are closed for conversion.

    Also a shame there is no way of getting a station in at Barangaroo given the 30000 workers they are planning to put there, who will have to be serviced by Wynard. A station at Barangaroo with the next southbound stop on Pitt St would give a good cross-city link. I guess they will use light rail to link in this area.

    Still favour a brand new line on the south side, routing via the Airport (as Gareth suggests) or the old Anzac line propsoal.

  29. QPP says:

    >>The only explanation is that both decisions are ideologically driven.<<

    That's a pretty big conclusion to jump to

    There appears to be a widespread assumption at large that using the SHB in some way for more tracks "must" be a whole lot cheaper

    Really? Quite apart from the compromises that are inherent in most of these ideas (eg constricted alignment between St Leonards & North Sydney) that would impose significant constraints on capacity of any additional tracks, I can think of a dozen or more major engineering challenges that would have to be overcome just off the top of my head – none of which would be cheap

    If such a proposal would end up costing somewhere in the same order of magnitude, which is quite possible, why would you do it, if you would end up with a compromised solution at the end of it all?

    Leaping to "ideology" as a conclusion is a bit, well, simplistic (I'm being kind) really

  30. moonetau says:

    Yes curve and gradient issues between Nth Sydney and St L. (specifically the 2.3km between Waverton, which is lower than Nth Syd, and St L where the ruling gradient is 1: 48 – on the Bridge it is 1:30), but nothing that can’t be overcome with a curve towards Crows Nest.
    Some buildings in CBD may have to be acquired and demolished (as they did to create the Wynyard Walk).
    The cross city tunnel would also be an issue.
    Others?

  31. @Moonetau –

    The preserved corridors under the CBD are along Sussex St and Pitt St, not York St where Wynyard Station is located. The number of building basements and utilities in the way would prove a huge obstacle to link either of these corridors up to Wynyard Station, both in terms of time, money, and delays.

    Though nothing is impossible it is almost certain that, together with a new under the Harbour road tunnel to replace the Eastern 2 lanes on the Bridge, the total cost would be more than just building a new under the Harbour rail crossing.

    Of course, if cost were no obstacle we could demolish the entire city and rebuild it from the ground up, preferably flattening the city out while we’re at it.

  32. moonetau says:

    Yes I know where the protected corridors are. I understand that the block surrounded by George, Market, Park and Pitt Streets (ie the Hilton Hotel) is the main issue as it hasn’t been preserved.

  33. Alexsg says:

    In case people have mised them, linked to comments in today’s SMH on the government’s transport proposals, including a response from Sandy Thomas:

    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/dont-fall-for-bairds-train-bribe-20140611-zs46p.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydney-traffic/infrastructure-promises-hinge-on-westconnex-expert-says-20140611-zs4c7.html

  34. Matt Adams says:

    Are there any maps on the protected corridoor in the CBD?

    I also wonder whether a new Martin Place station could be positioned mostly South of Martin Place and provide the ability to properly connect into St.James via underground pathways

    The other big issue using the old tram alignment is that it would block the Cahill, which provides much better access to the East of the city from the North – the SHT doesn’t without a detour back through the already jammed Wolloomooloo.

    And there isn’t much point destroying the Cahill roadway unless you also ditch the rail line – and putting that line and Circular Quay station underground I suspect has significant engineering challenges given the proximity to water, and the gradient required then to get back to Wynyard/ St James.

  35. Sam says:

    The road projects will always be built before the public transport projects. WestConnex and any new links or extensions to it as well as a southern freeway will result in less momeyh for public transport.

  36. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > Are there any maps on the protected corridoor in the CBD?

    I’m pretty sure this is correct, even though it’s not exactly from an authoritive source. IIRC I’ve seen an image *like* this on past this on previous DoT websites in years goneby.

  37. moonetau says:

    Matt, the tram alignment runs under the lanes 7 and 8 as they come off the bridge and does not interfere with the Cahill.
    The gradient from the Quay to St James would not be an issue with an underground station at the Quay. Wynyard lower level (City Outer) is 4m above sea level, the Quay is 10m and St James is 17m. An underground station at the quay would have to be about 6m below sea level and thus would have to rise 10m to Wynyard and 23m to St James. The ruling gradient between the St James and the Quay is currently 1:33, about the same as the approaches to the bridge.

    BTW the information above is in the public domain unlike information about roads and buildings which is not. I tried to get some of the latter from TfNSW (under GIPA) and they wanted a lot of money to do it or sent me to Sydney City Council.

  38. Jed says:

    These new harbour crossing plans seem incredibly shortsighted. Other people have already mentioned the lack of a station at Circular Quay, how the current rail services between Bankstown and Cabramatta/Lidcombe would be hobbled, and the lie about the passenger capacity. But here’s another good question: After the harbour tunnel is built, what then? The bridge is already constrained for road capacity, and at some point in the future you’re going to want public transport from the CBD to the northern beaches, and perhaps even HSR.

    How about, instead, we rebuild the bridge with two decks? It’s already over 80 years old, and will be around 90 years by the time anyone gets around to doing any of this stuff. That’s nearing end of life for similar bridges around the world. So, rebuild the bridge, reroute the city circle line to stop at the Quay underground, then the metro link is free to join the current city circle alignment after Martin Place to both stop at Circular Quay and get onto the bridge.

    Even if it costs the same (or slightly greater) than the current tunnel plan it would be well worth it. You get the extra rail link, double the road lanes, space for future HSR, and two reserved bus lanes. You could even redesign the pylons while you’re at it to put in a commuter grade monorail line.

  39. Mitch says:

    I think when you have so many transit black holes in Sydney, any effort to save money on projects so that others can be funded, should be welcomed. By using the harbour bridge you could get 2 projects for the price of 1 by incorporating a Northern Beaches line into the plan, primarily funded by the money saved on a deep harbour rail tunnel.

    (I know my ideas may cause some disagreement but consider this)

    Essentially if the rail line took back the Eastern lanes of the bridge, it would just reclaim two inefficient road lanes. Currently it is only one lane of car traffic (which is congested because 4 lanes merge into 1) and the other lane used for buses would not really be needed if you constructed a Northern Beaches Railway which would also help to reduce bus congestion in the CBD.

    You can resolve the Cahill Expressway dilemma by keeping the existing over-bridge, and by allowing Harbour Bridge users to access it, after you partially rip up the eastern lanes of the the Bridge to get to the Wynyard tunnels. The only people that would be disadvantaged in this situation are those from Kirribilli and Neutral Bay. They would be still able to just use the existing Arthur Steet entry onto the bridge (and the modified entry to the Cahill expressway to get to the Eastern Suburbs and Airport). This at most would add an extra 3 minutes to travel time so I don’t see it as a terrible inconvenience and it would not really interfere with the Cahill expressway.

    I also don’t see an issue with using North Sydney station. Firstly it was just rebuilt and is now incredibly spacious. It would also save building a new station under North Sydney and a short tunnel to St Leonards where the platforms are already built would save building another station from scratch. From the North Syd-St Leonards tunnel you could simultaneously construct tunnels connecting to a Military Road rail corridor continuing to the Northern Beaches, terminating at Mona Vale. It would require additional funds but essentially the project would mean both a metro to the Beaches and the North West, two areas lacking in decent public transport, fixing some of the most congested corridors in Sydney.

    As Bambul pointed out the only major difficulty about using the bridge is getting from York Street to the Pitt Street reserved corridor, and obviously the Southern alignment to Sydenham needs to be sorted out. But by using the bridge you increase capacity, have the potential to save money by reusing existing infrastructure and infrastructure that is built for the purpose but is currently sitting unused.

    I am also not sure why people complain that we need more road lanes crossing the harbour? Where are these lanes going to go? The city is already a bottleneck and is not a centre for dispersed trips so public transport makes the most sense even if it does steal back two dud car lanes.

  40. michblogs says:

    Which part of castle hill is so steep that the station would have to be 70 metres underground ? I think a lot of those assertions are just made up.

  41. Jed says:

    @Mitch:
    The Cahill Expressway has 4 lanes (6 after the tunnel merges with it), the Western Distributor has 6 lanes, and the bridge itself has 8 lanes, one of which is currently a bus lane. On the northern side, the Warringah Freeway is a lot harder to count, but it has 10 lanes after Military road. Put all that together and you can make a credible argument for the bridge needing 10 general road lanes.

    Regarding the northern beaches, my pet idea is a monorail following Military/Spit/Pittwater road. You get the same sort of 2-for-1 deal when it comes to upgrading the spit bridge, and it would save a ton of money compared to tunneling rail up there. The capacity of a typical commuter monorail is about 90% of the current double deck trains, so that isn’t an issue.

  42. QPP says:

    @Mich:

    “By using the harbour bridge you could get 2 projects for the price of 1 by incorporating a Northern Beaches line into the plan, primarily funded by the money saved on a deep harbour rail tunnel.”

    The big fat assumption at the centre of this is that what is being done with the second harbour crossing tunnel (as proposed) could be replicated for much less money by using the existing bridge. I think that’s a massive assumption that would be unlikely to be realised – there are dozen of issues you’d have to overcome in doing so, from constraints inherent in certain parts of the network upstream or downstream from the crossing, to pure engineering/spatial/cost issues

    Why do you all think it would be so much cheaper?

  43. QPP says:

    “Which part of castle hill is so steep that the station would have to be 70 metres underground ? I think a lot of those assertions are just made up.”

    The government hasn’t said that, it was a misquote, see earlier

  44. QPP says:

    “The capacity of a typical commuter monorail is about 90% of the current double deck trains, ”

    I don’t think so. Although arguably for that route you wouldn’t need something of the capacity of heavy rail anyway

  45. Jed says:

    @QPP:
    Take the Bombardier Innovia 300 for an example. A 4-car train is spec’d at 356 passengers at 4/m^2 (as far as you can go without being overcrowded by Australian standards). Each monorail train can have up to 8 cars, so around 712 per train. Then, it’s also spec’d at max 48 tph, but this is where I get a little skeptical, so call it a conservative 30 tph.

    712 * 30 = 21360 pphpd, compared to double deck 24000 pphpd. That’s 89%.

    It is a bit nebulous to estimate due to different seat/standing configurations and the tph specs, but there you go.

  46. QPP says:

    The key point is *can* have up to 8 cars. Most monorail systems stick to 3 or 4 cars for other reasons, vehicle weight and geometrical constraints of the track being a large part of it.

    Realistically I think the max pax per vehicle you’re looking at with monorails is 500, looking at what is actually in service worldwide in some pretty high density cities (like Mumbai), possibly less. More of a half way house between light and heavy rail, in reality, assuming it would work on similar minimum headways as any other sort of modern system

    Not saying there’s not a place for them. Politically it might be difficult in this city given that many of the public will think of monorails as being a bit lightweight, expensive and pointless given recent history here…….

    By the way, on the subject of how “easy” it would be to convert the 2 lanes on the eastern side of the SHB back to rail, what sort of structure do people fancy for the bridge to take the lines over from what is now the car park/laydown area/yard to the east of the tracks coming out of North Sydney station, over to the eastern 2 lanes? There’s some spans required there…..

  47. moonetau says:

    North Sydney Skyline
    Demolished in 1958 IIRC.

  48. Jed says:

    @QPP:
    I fail to see how vehicle weight or track geometry would prevent adding more cars, but yes, point taken. The longest monorail I know of is in Sao Paulo, using 7 car trains.

    The problem with most of what’s being discussed here is politics. Nobody wants to touch the bridge because we’ve gone and made a piece of critical infrastructure into a piece of national heritage, somehow thinking it’ll last forever. Nobody wants to touch monorails because the one that used to be in Sydney was a *really* horrible design.

    I still have no idea what the motivation for ending the current plans at Bankstown is though. The NWRL is longer, and I’ve been on fully automated branching metros before.

  49. Mitch says:

    @QPP

    I don’t necessarily see the constraints upstream on the North Shore. Either way a 2nd harbour crossing on the bridge or in a tunnel still has to make its way down the North Shore from Chatswood. If the tunnel option wins they want a new station at Crows Nest followed by a new station at North Sydney then on to a possible Barangaroo station following the metro Pitt alignment. Essentially by using the existing infrastructure you would save significant money on three new stations by using the bridge (possibly five if you used the unused platforms at Central and halfbuilt ones at Redfern) and you wouldn’t need to tunnel under what looks to be one of the deepest sections of the harbour. I’m happy to be proven wrong, I just want an answer :)

    Obviously detailed studies need to be done to show which option is better/most cost effective but I’m not sure why the bridge option isn’t included in the analysis? It seems like they just assume the tunnel is the best option without an explanation.

  50. QPP says:

    @Moonetau:

    Yes, precisely, the geometry of that bridge shows the constraints of the span

    If you want a rail system that can have line speeds of 10kph or so to make the curves, AND restrict vehicles to the weight of 1950s trams, AND ignore current design standards then it’s easy. Otherwise it most certainly isn’t.

    By my reckoning, even if you butchered the median of the road (which would impact road space) to put a pier in there, you’d still have spans of 50-55m required for any reasonable alignment. And that is a vast span for a heavy rail bridge to accommodate, it makes such a bridge extremely expensive and introduces all sorts of other complications, such as reengineering the structures of the bridge approach to take the loads from the supports, etc etc etc

    Suddenly the supposedly obvious and cheap route of using the bridge becomes very expensive.

    I’ve been in the position before of re-using old infrastructure and it can, very occasionally, be cost-effective. Usually it isn’t.

  51. QPP says:

    @ Mitch:

    “I don’t necessarily see the constraints upstream on the North Shore. Either way a 2nd harbour crossing on the bridge or in a tunnel still has to make its way down the North Shore from Chatswood. If the tunnel option wins they want a new station at Crows Nest followed by a new station at North Sydney then on to a possible Barangaroo station following the metro Pitt alignment. Essentially by using the existing infrastructure you would save significant money on three new stations by using the bridge (possibly five if you used the unused platforms at Central and halfbuilt ones at Redfern) and you wouldn’t need to tunnel under what looks to be one of the deepest sections of the harbour. I’m happy to be proven wrong, I just want an answer :)”

    We could go on for ever I think, but there are some fairly severe constraints on the existing alignment through Waverton & Wollstonecraft. I think the line speed through here is limited to 40kph because of the curves and gradient. Also there’s no room in the corridor for most of its length anyway, so what do you do? A substantial (and expensive) piece of property acquisition to replicate an alignment that’s already severely compromised, or tunnel from St Leonard’s?

    If you’re going to tunnel anyway from StL to North Sydney (at least), then the economics of doing it as part of a longer tunnel start to look more attractive. Then you’ve got other constraints, compromises and costs involved in using the bridge: Getting across to the eastern lanes in the first place (ass above), the modifications you’d need to the bridge to reconfigure it for rail loading and alignment, replacing the gradient down off the bridge into the disused Wynyard tunnels and remodelling the roads coming on/off the Cahill

    Then you’ve got the steep gradient down into Wynyard which is another capacity constraint as heavy trains have to start braking pretty early to make it down into the station to stop safely. Then you’ve got capacity issues at Wynyard which is already badly overloaded at peak, with narrow platforms, inadequate capacity in stairways etc from platform to concourse and a borderline concourse.

    Then you’ve got to get south from Wynyard somehow. There’s no room at Town Hall (and that station is even worse than Wynyard for capacity problems) and not much of a route to get down there either. So do you swing east towards Pitt St and create a new station? Is there a route to get over there? And again, it’s another section of tunnel, so just like at St Leonards, if you’re going to have short tunnels at both ends, the economics of doing that as part of a longer drive start to (rapidly) get more attractive

    One of the key benefits I think TfNSW see in building a completely new route (and to some extent a new operating mode) is that once you’ve made the decision to start from a clean sheet of paper you can get rid of a lot of compromises – you can make the alignment work for higher line speeds and shorter headways, you can build in capacity in your stations, you can design it around a train control system that will cut headways further and so on. You can also construct it, mostly, as a “greenfield” project, which is vastly more efficient in terms of how much bang you get for your construction buck. Yes it’s in tunnel, and tunnels aren’t cheap, but neither is re-engineering existing in-use assets to try and make them work. In Sydney, brownfield (ie, inside the operating rail corridor) rail construction is between 3 and 5 times as expensive as greenfield work depending on its complexity.

    As per previous, there seems to be an assumption abroad that using the SHB would be a whole lot cheaper and I just don’t see it. Maybe it would, if the SHB and all the other assets people are talking about using weren’t in daily use, but the fact is they are. That alone makes building offline (ie a new tunnel) a whole lot more attractive.

  52. Alex says:

    @QPP “Yes, precisely, the geometry of that bridge shows the constraints of the span…If you want a rail system that can have line speeds of 10kph or so to make the curves, AND restrict vehicles to the weight of 1950s trams, AND ignore current design standards then it’s easy. Otherwise it most certainly isn’t.”

    OK I understand that current design standards will have tougher requirements, but I thought that the bridge that was demolished was actually a rail bridge to begin with connecting North Sydney station to the rail tracks on the eastern side of the SHB. As such it was built to heavy rail standards and was only meant to be used by the trams temporarily.

    The other option which was explored in the SMH Inquiry report was hanging additional tracks in the girders immediately under the centre of the current bridge deck. This I recall is feasible and in fact I recall that the government years ago was looking at a much more complex plan to hang an additional roadway under the bridge until Alan Jones got wind of it and Bob Carr dumped the proposal.

  53. QPP says:

    It was originally a heavy rail bridge, yes, but standards have changed a lot

    You could muck about with the geometry (but bear in mind there’s a pay off in terms of track alignment and line speeds if you get too convoluted), if you go on SixMaps and measure the span you’d need though, you’d be looking at 50m minimum – much more if you decided you needed to span the whole road in one go

    These days, 100 year design lives, whole life costs and maintenance considerations make steel bridges a very hard sell in the rail environment, particularly where access for inspection/repainting/repair is difficult, as it would be here. The usual structural solutions for rail bridges are concrete prestressed (post tensioned) box girder, prestressed through girder, or precast supertee girder with in-situ deck.

    None of these can really go beyond 40m with rail loading so you’re looking at some sort of “long span” solution, which means some sort of arch (these get expensive to make sufficiently stiff laterally and torsionally, and involve steel – see the SHB or the old rail bridge that’s in the picture linked), or I suspect these days the preference would be for a cable stayed design – but that has implications for the foundations of the main pylon(s), which would be taking an awful lot of load, so you’d have to do some fairly major surgery in and beneath the bridge approach structures.

    None of this is impossible, you can engineer most things, but it all starts adding up and is just an example of why re-using old infrastructure may not save anything

    It MAY save something, I don’t know the detail, it’s just the assumption that it must offer massive savings (and, worse, that therefore the only reason it isn’t being suggested is because of some sort of corruption or other hidden agenda) I was taking issue with.

    One thing I have learnt in many years of trying to re-use old assets for new projects is that they never, ever, comply with current standards so you always have to spend a lot of money to make them work somehow, and they almost always cost more than you expect they will. Doesn’t mean you should never do it, but it has to be worth the grief (scars of St.Pancras station in London are still there for me – an example of where it was worth the grief, but sheesh, it took some engineering)

  54. Alex says:

    “None of this is impossible, you can engineer most things, but it all starts adding up and is just an example of why re-using old infrastructure may not save anything…It MAY save something, I don’t know the detail, it’s just the assumption that it must offer massive savings (and, worse, that therefore the only reason it isn’t being suggested is because of some sort of corruption or other hidden agenda) I was taking issue with.”

    Fair point – I always thought that the horse had well and truly bolted on the concept of returning the Cahill Expressway lanes to rail use anyway. And as you said trying to reconstruct all this while the bridge is in constant use would be a nightmare.

    I still think the under-bridge option has potential however, though whether this offers the best results in terms of what happens through North Sydney and at the other end into the CBD is another question.

  55. XP says:

    Most of the cost of the second harbour crossing is in the Central station to Wynyard segment – not the harbour crossing itself. The TfNSW rail capacity investigations released by SMH (see https://transportsydney.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/metro-plan-could-cost-more-and-northern-beaches-rail-line-in-the-planning/) costed the Central to Wynyard CBD relief line alone at approx $5bn, versus $8bn for the Redfern to St Leonards cross harbour link. Once you add in the cost of resuming two lanes of the harbour bridge +/- providing alternative traffic lanes over/under the bridge deck, it is unlikely to be cheaper than building the rail crossing in a new tunnel all the way to St Leonards and you lose the benefit of creating new catchments by locating stations in areas currently poor served eg. Crow’s Nest.

    In any event, the harbour bridge crossing isn’t the current capacity limiting factor of the north shore line anyway … it is the dwell times of loading/unloading at Wynyard and Town hall stations that is limiting the capacity on the north shore line. The idea of using the spare platforms at Wynyard has merit … in such a case, 26-27tph can cross the bridge on the existing tracks, and 9 tph can be then turned back at Wynyard and return north, with the other 17-18tph proceeding through to Central. From there, additional trains can leave from Sydney terminal and proceed onto the Western lines. Thus, the only station in which the 20tph limit applies is really just Town hall.

    See this paper for details:

    http://www.atrf11.unisa.edu.au/Assets/Papers/ATRF11_0118_final.pdf

    This approach will likely require signalling upgrades (of the order of $1b+) and reconfiguration of the Wynyard tracks, but doesn’t require any other new infrastructure … it can give maybe 7000 passengers per hr extra capacity, so still only a fraction of 2nd harbour crossing’s capacity.

  56. Simon says:

    Reading this has been difficult.

    I’ve got to say that some serious questions need to be asked as to why red rattlers could handle the 1 in 30 from Wynyard up to the Harbour Bridge, and vice versa, but they reckon a gradient steeper than 1 in 36 would be too much for the current trains on the ECRL, and new lines have similar limits imposed on them. The red rattlers only powered 1/4 of their axles, but all electric trains now power 1/2 their axles. Surely the current tech can match the 1930s tech of the red rattlers and get up the same grades with twice the motors!

    They said a similar thing in Qld, with the suggested limit being 1 in 33, but now they’ve magically managed to go to 1 in 30.7. FFS.

    And besides, these limits have nothing to do with single deck vs double deck. What exactly is the limit? Given that new rolling stock has to be ordered anyway, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that this is just made up BS to justify their decision. If the voltage is the limit, dual voltage AC/DC trains is a 1970s technology (first done on the first TGV I believe) and my understanding is that Milleniums were made with provision for 25kV AC anyway.

  57. Peter Egan says:

    “The NWRL itself will have a station at Castle Hill that is 25m underground, but with double deck trains the shallow gradient would require it to be 70m underground, twice as deep as North Ryde. This is so deep that escalators would, to quote Transport for NSW, “probably not even be an option” and all passengers would be required to use elevators to travel between platform and concourse.”

    Lots of factual errors in the NWRL fact from which this quote came. The old river channel in Sydney Harbour runs west-east from Blues Point to Dawes Point. The Sydney Rapid Transit line with a 4.5% grade results in a track depth of 50 metres to 55 metres at the Pacific Hwy/Miller St intersection. A submerged tube tunnel, like the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, would reduce the depth by about 10 metres. A route next to the harbour bridge (west side) would be 400 metres longer from the channel deep point and North Sydney Station depth could be 14 to 18 metres less deep – this adds just 50 metres, or so, to route length. If the North Sydney Station was placed under Mount St just west of the motorway, it could be reached by a line in a submerged tube tunnel at 3.3% grade and have a track depth from surface level at the stations eastern end of about 15 metres and 28 metres at its western end – this adds 350 to 400 metres to route length and about 20 seconds to journey time. This route would go under Milson Park Kirribilli at shallow depth.

    Whether single-deck, or double-deck trains use the NWRL has no impact on its design apart from double-deck trains requiring more emergency access capacity BECAUSE THEY CAN CARRY MORE PASSENGERS. The NWRL fact sheet on the skytrain and bridge needing more steel and concrete is total rubbish. The writer of the fact sheet obviously does not understand civil engineering design. The double-deck trains could be given a drive motor and electrical upgrade to get up a 4.5% grade – the cost would be about $1 million per train.

    The government is all about making their projects look different to Labor’s. They are obviously prepared to create mud to hide their aims. The Transport Minister loves fighting. Messing up Sydney’s rail network gives her what she loves.

  58. It is estimated that the Pyongyang Metro in North Korea is 110m below ground, although this cannot be confirmed.

    Also, I’ve been thinking about some ideas for the NWRL and I now know how I would design it:
    First, the trains would be semi-automated and would use a combination of 2×2 and longitudal seating, so that there was enough seats for those traveling long distances but still plenty of standing room for shorter trips.
    Second, I would have trains that are 12 cars long, which would require longer platforms, but the extra cost would be offset by building the new link as a elevated line for most of its length instead of underground.
    Third, I would further reduce costs by using dual voltage trains, so that the power supply on the Bankstown line would only need a simple upgrade instead of a complete replacement. The new link and the Epping line would use 25 Kv 50 Hz AC power, while the exiting DC system would be used on the Bankstown line, with trains switching between the two automatically.

  59. RichardU says:

    @michblogs,

    As to the depth at Castle Hill, it would be a lot easier to believe the reason for single deck trains if there were fewer excuses for having them.

    And while we are thinking outside the square, given the improvement in communications is it sensible to keep squeezing more people into the confined area that is the Sydney CBD? Some say Melbourne is growing faster (which suggests it has capacity to do so) and what is wrong with that?

    Having said that, a rail link to the airport (a decades old plan) has just been re-announced. These thing don’t just happen in Sydney.

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