Tuesday: Budget includes $60bn for infrastructure

The NSW Budget included funding for $60bn of planned infrastructure spending over the next 4 years. The spending includes new heavy rail lines (North West Rail Link, South West Rail Link), light rail lines (CBD and South East Light Rail, a yet undetermined light rail line from Parramatta), roads (WestConnex, NorthConnex, roads around Badgerys Creek in Western Sydney, Northern Beaches roads and Bus Rapid Transit), and new public transport vehicles (trains and buses).

Major transport infrastructure projects included in the 2014-15 NSW Budget. Click to enlarge. (Sources: NSW Treasury, Transport for NSW, Open Street Map.)

Major transport infrastructure projects included in the 2014-15 NSW Budget. Click to enlarge. (Sources: NSW Treasury, Transport for NSW, Open Street Map.)

Wednesday: NWRL Skytrain construction begins

Construction has begun on the 4km Skytrain viaduct for the North West Rail Link (NWRL). Two stations, Kellyville and Rouse Hill, will be on this portion of the NWRL, elevated above the ground. It will also include a rail bridge crossing Windsor Road.

Video: NWRL Building Skytrain, Transport for NSW (17 June 2014)

Friday: New Rail Operations Centre for Sydney Trains

$11.4m will be spent this year to create a new Rail Operations Centre, which will consolidate the operations and communications functions that are currently geographically dispersed across Sydney. The concentration of these operations will allow for improved communications in responding to incidents on the network.

However, concentration of operations has been criticised in the past. Last year a fire at one of Sydney’s signal boxes (there are 19 in total, with most equipment concentrated in 2 depots) caused a virtual shut down of all trains for 30 minutes on the Sydney Trains network (other than the T4 line). The lack of contingency was blamed for the shut down, with no back up plan available to take over once the signal box was evacuated.

Friday: Transport Police make 5,000 arrests in 2 years

The Public Transport Command (PTC), police responsible for safety on public transport, was established in May 2012 and since then have issued 92,000 infringements, laid 9,000 charges, and made 5,000 arrests. Along with Transport Officers (responsible for checking that tickets are valid) the PTC replaced the old transit officers. Police and Transport Officers now patrol all forms of public transport (Transit Officers were only found aboard trains) but have been criticised for being fewer in number than the old Transit Officers.

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Comments
  1. Alex says:

    Bambul, good post as usual, but there appears to be a problem with the NWRL “skytrain” video. It’s all green for me.

  2. Alexsg says:

    Update – it works on my iPad but is there meant to be no sound!

  3. QPP says:

    This week’s news on the OTS (NWRL Package 3) preferred bidder, plus the one in your post Bambul about the Skytrain (Package 2) and this piece from the Tele (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/the-hills/first-north-west-rail-link-drill-christened-elizabeth-will-arrive-in-sydney-soon/story-fngr8i1f-1226965294495) on Package 1 should surely be enough to convince even the most diehard opponents* that the operating mode of the NWRL is a done deal.

    TfNSW are now committed on all three major projects; TBMs are manufactured to the smaller diameter and on their way; the segment factory for the tunnel is complete, up and running, and producing smaller diameter segments; the portal structure at Bella Vista is constructed to the smaller diameter; viaduct construction is starting to suit the SD operating mode; now the government is also contractually committed on the PPP concession.

    There’s no going back from here without years of delay and a 9 figure sum down the pan. Which ain’t happening

    *Take your pick as to whether Jacob Saulwick, the Greens or the Beecroft NIMBYs are the last to finally throw in the towel

  4. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > There’s no going back from here without years of delay and a 9 figure sum down the pan. Which ain’t happening

    The current plan means an 11 figure sum down the drain IMHO. Cheap at half the price to fix.

  5. QPP says:

    It’s not like you won’t get a railway out of it…..

  6. Ray says:

    >It’s not like you won’t get a railway out of it …<

    Yes, it's a done deal, but at a very high price for the integrity of Sydney's rail future. A sad day. So much for the bastard politicians and bureaucrats who don't have half a brain between the lot of them.

  7. JC says:

    I agree with QPP that we are moving towards a big new railway that is potentially useful – and an obsession with all bits of the system being the same is not logical or helpful.. but I really wonder with Ray about what planet the “bastard politicians and bureaucrats who don’t have half a brain between them” are from… A high-spec high-frequency metro in the land of the business parks and McMansions that goes under but doesn’t serve the stretch of Sydney from Chatswood to Sydneham, one of the few bits that has the density to support a metro – then stops short of making a decent regional connection from Bankstown to Liverpool. Looks to me like they have deliberately set out to make the worst use of a good thing.

    About the only good bit is the long overdue recognition of the under-servicing of the string of centres in the City of Canterbury, which had population and activity intensified by the great 3-storey walk-up rebuild of Sydney in the 60s and 70s – but has never had the infrastructure to match.

  8. Tandem Train Rider says:

    @JC I think you are wrong on so many levels with that last post.

    Fixing the problems arising from the narrow tunnel decision – and there are a lot of them – is going to soak up all of the capital available to invest in rail for the next 20 to 30 years, with little or no improvement in PT delivery.

    > About the only good bit is the long overdue recognition of the under-servicing of the string of centres in the City of Canterbury
    The Bankstown line generates a *peak* load of less than 6000 PAX/hr. About half the capacity of a light rail line. And there are reasons for this. For all the low rise red brick MDUs, are large chunk of them were built before we thought up basement parking, so a fair percentage have the ground floor as garages and most blocks have less than 10 units. The land block sizes are huge compared with “modern” Sydney, so for all the MDUs there is as much free standing housing with 1/4 the density of newly released lots. And then there is the fact the catchment is also served by both the Western Line and the East Hills line. Further, strata title of the small MDUs means redevelopment is all but impossible (because every title holder has to agree), or will require serious law reform in this area.

    Given it’s low volumes, there is no question the Bankstown line would benefit from a lower capacity, higher frequency type of service. But the point is that’s *because* of it’s low volumes. It’s quite littereally the last place we need to be investing in transport infrastructure. The fact capital is being redirected there and away from places it really is needed, and that is 100% down to the choice of tunnel size and the ideology that we “need” a metro.

    > and an obsession with all bits of the system being the same is not logical or helpful
    It is the obsession with doing things differently (but more significantly incompatibly) that is neither logical nor helpful.

    To give you some idea of how large a problem this is, I think the rational policy would have been to build the NWRL with the “correct” dimensions and do the upgrades to Chatswood to Strathfield they are now planning anyway (to cope with the Chatswood interchange). This would include/enable ATO and 24tph across the ecsiting infrastructure, and *defer* the need for the second harbour crossing by (at *least*) 20 years. This alone delivers the same broader capacity benefits as the proposed RT second crossing, but to the routes serving the outer suburbs where the growth in patronage is comming from.

    And when it it does come time to build it, it’s done in stages starting at the city end, providing a stub/additional sector to cope with demand growth across the existing network – most likely from the growing outer suburbs.

    But the kicker for me is by the time the whole boondoggle is finished, the NW growth area won’t be in Kellyville, Rouse Hill or Marsden Park where it is now, it’ll be 5-10km further out at Galstone, Dural, Nelson, Oakville etc – where there won’t be any public transport or any prospect of it.

  9. JC says:

    @TTR. Some fair comments about the bankstown line.

    But…

    I guess my point is that the relatively dense core of Sydney would be best served by a well interconnected high frequency service. Given the volunmes LR technology would probably suffice – but getting a metro-style service approach(whether light or heavy) is bet suited to the existing inner west, east hills, bankstown and city-hurstville lines. Investment here to promote urban consolidation, reduce car dependence and congestion would be of much greater long term benefit.

    And…

    Dulwich Hill LR is is the evidence you should need to see that if you really improve the qualiuty and convenience of PT in this part of town, you will be rewarded with patronage (and I’m not convinced you can say the same about McMansion land.

    and..

    Campsie, Lakemba etc are not “served” by the East Hill and Inner West lines – this is exactly the anti-urban thinking that creeated the mess in the first place.

    and..

    there is scope to further increase debsities on the bankstown line esp in the commercial areas close to the (metro) stations – and the urban core is expanding. We keep hearing that Marrickville is the new Newtown – dare we expect that Csanterbury will be the new Marrickville

    and..

    On the sameness for sameness sake: I don’t dispute many of the points you make – but we shouldn’t be obsessed about uniformity. The proposals are not bad because they are different, they are bad because they are bad.

  10. Alex says:

    I broadly agree with TTR about this. All the decisions about the metro/rapid transit appear to be a case of “function following form” rather than the other way around.

    While there is certainly a case for a high-frequency metro it’s not out in the NW. I can’t think of any city that is building metros like this in their outer suburbs unless they have a system that is largely metro-based to start off with, let alone any city that has commenced a new metro system with a line solely in the outer suburbs.

    I’m a supporter of the NWRL, but I think that the metro is fundamentally the wrong mode. Either the patronage projections are right and a large proportion of the users will be forced to stand most of the way (and then change at Chatswood at least in the short term), which means we would have been better off with a DD line – or the projections are wrong, in which case the job probably could be done by light rail.

    Furthermore, having decided to build the NWRL as a metro line every other decision appears to be a cascading compromise to make the metro work. This includes the decision that the Bankstown line should form the southern arm and that there should be only three stations south of the harbour before it gets to Sydenham.

    The station announcement in particular is a decision which defies all logic given the sorts of areas that metros are best at serving. The inner west is completely ignored, even though as Garry Glazebrook suggests, at least one extra station in the vicinity of Sydney University and Newtown would seem to be a no-brainer.

    I agree with QPP that the metro is now a fait accompli, though I don’t share his enthusiasm for the way this has been done. However if we are going to have it lets try to make it work as best as possible so that it at least resembles a proper metro in the CBD and inner suburbs, even if this means revisiting some of the decisions about the corridor, number of stations and their placement south of the CBD

  11. shiggyshiggy says:

    Everything about this metro plan is a dirty compromise, but you know what? It is still better than what we were going to get: nothing. Neither side of politics, either the in the state or federal parliaments, appeared very interested in urban rail in Sydney. Oh they appeared to be interested in planning urban rail, but building the lines? No thanks, that’s too hard. Here’s a new toll road. Catch a bus peasants.

    Much has been made of the short-sightedness of our politicians with regards to urban rail development, three or four year terms being seen as a major reason(although, maybe its just because they’re a bunch of craven self-centred bastards, I guess we’ll never know) And yet, here is a government providing a real, and attainable, long term urban rail plan. Why will this plan succeed when the others failed? Because future governments will have little choice but to follow through with large scale investment in the new system. It is stupid to build the line in the outer-suburbs first from a patronage/density point of view. It does go against worlds best practice. But you know what it does do? It forces whomever is next in government to follow through with the plan, in some way or another. This is in contrast with the current network, which can apparently just be mostly ignored, barring a little tinkering here and there.

    The ALP tried the same tactic with the silly CBD metro, but were so incompetent they couldn’t even get a simple political wedge off the ground. The supporters of rail within the NSW political class have taken a leaf out of the book of motorway builders the world over: build it anywhere you can, because the fact it exists will create the drive to finish it. It isn’t rational from an engineering perspective, but it is rational from a political perspective, and that it was is important. This is all politics, all of it.

    I don’t particularly like the new plan, considering how its misses key areas of the inner city and lavishes vast sums of treasure on some outer suburban hell-hole, but it is going to be built. At least that’s one thing in its favour.

  12. QPP says:

    @Alex:

    “I broadly agree with TTR about this. All the decisions about the metro/rapid transit appear to be a case of “function following form” rather than the other way around.”

    – couldn’t you say exactly the same about the proponents of a DD only system? For most of them it seems to be the SD element of the SRT plans that are the biggest drama. Why? A railway is a railway, isn’t it?

    “While there is certainly a case for a high-frequency metro it’s not out in the NW. I can’t think of any city that is building metros like this in their outer suburbs unless they have a system that is largely metro-based to start off with, let alone any city that has commenced a new metro system with a line solely in the outer suburbs.”

    – That’s true, but then the government was always completely open about the intent that the NWRL was phase 1 of a greater scheme (and one which ultimately made more sense of the metro mode). *On its own* the NWRL as a metro doesn’t make much sense. But the point is, it was never intended to be on its own, and the recent crystallisation (and funding proposition) for the next phase shows that

    “I’m a supporter of the NWRL, but I think that the metro is fundamentally the wrong mode. Either the patronage projections are right and a large proportion of the users will be forced to stand most of the way (and then change at Chatswood at least in the short term), which means we would have been better off with a DD line – or the projections are wrong, in which case the job probably could be done by light rail.”

    – I can’t agree with the statement about “a large proportion of the users being forced to stand most of the way”. There are less seats, sure, but the idea that the SD trains are a standing room only affair and that most people will be standing, most of the time, is a furphy put about by the DD obsessives.

    “Furthermore, having decided to build the NWRL as a metro line every other decision appears to be a cascading compromise to make the metro work. This includes the decision that the Bankstown line should form the southern arm and that there should be only three stations south of the harbour before it gets to Sydenham.”

    – I think you are reading way too much into the route map as currenty shown. No one has *decided* there should be only 3 stations south of the harbour as far as I am aware. The scheme/route map currently proposed is at a very early stage – exactly the stage when debate should be held about the shape of what it will actually be

    “The station announcement in particular is a decision which defies all logic given the sorts of areas that metros are best at serving. The inner west is completely ignored, even though as Garry Glazebrook suggests, at least one extra station in the vicinity of Sydney University and Newtown would seem to be a no-brainer.”

    – See above, what “announcement”??

    “I agree with QPP that the metro is now a fait accompli, though I don’t share his enthusiasm for the way this has been done. However if we are going to have it lets try to make it work as best as possible so that it at least resembles a proper metro in the CBD and inner suburbs, even if this means revisiting some of the decisions about the corridor, number of stations and their placement south of the CBD”

    – I think a lot of this is up for grabs, as it should be at this stage. This is all good. I don’t think anyone has locked in any decisions about stations, although I’m sure there are constraints that aren’t obvious to the average punter

    I wouldn’t say I was particularly enthusiastic about the way this has been done, and I have no doubt that there were political elements to the decision on mode – it makes doing it as a PPP much easier for obvious reasons, plus I am sure the tunnel diameter issue was done deliberately as a poison pill to stop a future administration changing their minds and only doing half the job, but I don’t have a massive problem with that – the legacy of successive governments doing just that has been the underinvested network we currently live with.

    What I don’t have is any particular concern with is the SRT not being “integrated” with the suburban rail network. There’s nothing inherently wrong with DD trains or the suburban network as it stands, although its operating costs (that we all pay for in tax subsidy) are way too high, it lacks redundancy in both rail and train control systems so the whole system is vulnerable to reliability issues arising on one part of it, and it has some significant bottlenecks especially in the CBD. *That’s* the important part for me, the main reason I am OK with the current plans is that it makes more capacity in the CBD, and parallel stations (thereby enabling major rework in the future) to the grossly inadequate stations in the CBD much more likely as the logic becomes almost inevitable

    ……And, as shiggy says, at least we’ll get *something*

  13. Simon says:

    TTR, I´m shocked by your remark that Bankstown is the single worst place for a metro. I can think of worse places – NW, Northern Beaches instantly spring to mind. There´s also the Northern Line, South Line and Inner West line behind it and Bankstown is only slightly behind the ESR for peak patronage.

  14. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Simon “TTR, I´m shocked by your remark that Bankstown is the single worst place for a metro.”

    I’m not saying it’s the worst place for a metro. Just it’s the place least in need of of an “upgrade”.

    If we’re just playing trains, then yes, there is plenty of scope to run more trains there. But if we’re transporting people then it’s achieving nothing.

    @QPP “- couldn’t you say exactly the same about the proponents of a DD only system? For most of them it seems to be the SD element of the SRT plans that are the biggest drama. Why? A railway is a railway, isn’t it?”

    The core problem with the current Sydney rail system is the ratio of collection stations to the number of sectors. In the past we have dealt with this issue through our hybrid format. The SRT proposal – entirely because it is SRT – does as little as it possibly could to address this issue, and in some respects makes it worse (transfering stations from the northern to southern arms of sector 3 for example).

    For mine, this fails the “what problem are we solving here?” test. Personally, I think if it is better than nothing, it’s not by much. I think the upshot will be huge ongoing capex, more total operaing expense to the taxpayer with very little improvement in public transport utility.

  15. michblogs says:

    “Northern Beaches instantly spring to mind.”

    Actually, the northern beaches would be an excellent spot for a metro. Reason: CBD to dee why is only 1/4 of the distance to kellyville, so people won’t be standing on it for an hour.. Futhermore, the NWRL will actually compare quite unfavourable to the existing M2 buses for travel time, whereas a metro to Dee Why will be much faster than the buses are. Futhermore, a metro to DY will have the ability to directly service the existing areas of fairly high residential and commercial density at Neutral Bay, Cremorne, Mosman and Brookvale, which are closer to the CBD than any new area served by the NWRL, and have existing high traffic congestion and severe constraints to road improvement.

  16. Alex says:

    To show I’m not anti-metro, I actually agree with mitchblogs on this. I think a metro would be a much better proposition in this corridor than the proposal for some sort of combination of yet another road tunnel and BRT (though the latter is needed in the short to medium term).

    I’ll have to agree to disagree with QPP on the benefits of a metro for the NWRL, but if one of the unanticipated benefits of this is to force the construction of a second harbour crossing as a SD corridor then a Northern Beaches metro is a logical option. I would build it as far as Brookvale in the first instance and then think about whether to a) run a BRT the rest of the way to Narrabeen from Brookvale, b) extend the metro to Dee Why and do the same or c) (my favourite idea at the moment) terminate it at Brookvale and have an interchange with a LRT running from Narrabeen to Manly.

    (I have to declare an interest at this stage – although I’ve lived in outer Western Sydney for many years, I grew up on the Northern Beaches and my father joined the committee lobbying for a rail line there in 1958…).

    I’ve also said before that I believe that in some respects building a metro out to UNSW is probably a better option in this corridor than light rail, though the latter is certainly better than nothing. I also think that either an UNSW metro and/or a new metro line to Parramatta seem to make more sense for the SRT once it crosses the harbour, than converting the Bankstown line.

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