This week in transport (20 July 2014)

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Transport

VIDEO: Opal Man: The wanderers discover the real flexibility of the Opal card

Monday: Tangara trains to be upgraded

Sydney Trains’ fleet of Tangaras, introduced between 1988 and 1995 and accounting for over a quarter of the Sydney Trains rolling stock, are be upgraded to add another 10 years to their working lives. The trains were originally designed for a 30 year operating life, meaning that without this upgrade the first Tangara could reach the end of its working life in 2018.

Tuesday: Privacy concerns raised over Opal cards

Concerns have been raised over government access to Opal card data, with numerous NSW and Commonwealth Government agencies able to obtain this data without a warrant. Stephen Blanks, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, argued that police would be able to collect data even on people who are not suspected of a crime and that warrants are “a reasonable price to pay to protect privacy and ensure these powers are not abused”. A spokesperson for Transport for NSW responded that “Transport for NSW may only disclose information to a law enforcement agency that is necessary for law enforcement purposes, for the investigation of an offence, for the enforcement of criminal law or to assist in locating a missing person” and that unregistered Opal cards would soon be available for those not wanting to link their card to their personal information.

Tuesday: NorthConnex EIS released

The Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthConnex freeway linking the M2 near North Rocks to the M1 near Wahroonga predicts that the current 18 minute trip along this route will blow out to 27 minutes if NorthConnex is not built. If the road tunnel is built, the increase in duration of this trip will be limited and be only 20 minutes. Motorists opting to take NorthConnex will take 5 minutes but pay $7 for the privilege.

Tuesday: Opal rolls out to one third of buses

400,000 Opal cards have been issued, with 1,700 buses set to be Opal enabled in July. There are 5,000 buses in NSW that are scheduled to be Opal enabled by the end of the year, with light rail set to be Opal ready by early 2015.

Opal enabled buses can be identified by stickers on the front. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

Opal enabled buses can be identified by stickers on the front. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Wednesday: Existing tolls could be extended to pay for future roads

The NSW Government has confirmed that it will consider selling the right to collect tolls on roads once the existing concession expires in order to fund the construction of additional roads. Leaked reports suggest that the right to toll the M5 for 34 years, between 2026 and 2060, could raise $1.7bn for the NSW Government.

Thursday: Gladys Berejiklian outlines past wins and future vision

The Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian has announced that shorter buses will soon arrive in Sydney and hinted at light rail from Parramatta to Macquarie Park. These will have the benefit of being able to easily navigate through some of Sydney’s smaller streets. She also suggested that a light rail line running from Westmead to Macquarie Park via Parramatta was her prefered route when she stated that it was important that light rail connect the health and education precincts. The NSW Government has committed $400m to light rail around Parramatta, but has not yet identified a preferred corridor.

Friday: Opal system glitch causes crash

Opal’s online system crashed, preventing users from receiving an accurate statement of their travel histories. The Opal website itself has also been inaccessible at points throughout the week. Travel transactions themselves have been logged correctly on Opal readers and cards themselves, and will be reflected correctly when the glitch has been resolved.

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Comments
  1. QPP says:

    Have only skimmed it, but the NorthConnex EIS seems really light on detail to me, when compared to other EISs I’ve seen for projects of a similar scale. I confess I’ve concentrated more on the construction elements than the air quality or projections of changed traffic routing

  2. MrV says:

    How much is the Tangara upgrade going to cost by the time they do all the design work and sourcing for all the stuff being upgraded.
    Looks like quite a list of things to be replaced. Would it be cheaper to sell/scrap them and order more Waratahs and that way you have a new train with 30yrs lifespan? You also consolidate the fleet toward 1 train type which must cut down on maintenance expenses. If there are 50 or so T trainsets, that is only a dozen or so new ones per year for the next 5 years.

  3. Alexsg says:

    I haven’t read the NorthConnex EIS but the SMH article linked to above says that the link which will be mostly in tunnel will be nine kilometres long. If the trip can be done in five minutes that is an average speed of 108kph which suggests a speed limit of 110kph.

    If this correct it would be a higher speed limit than either the M2 or M7 and much higher than the 80kph limit of most of the current motorway tunnels.

  4. Tandem Train Rider says:

    > How much is the Tangara upgrade going to cost by the time they do all the design work and
    > sourcing for all the stuff being upgraded. Looks like quite a list of things to be replaced. Would it
    > be cheaper to sell/scrap them and order more Waratahs and that way you have a new train with
    > 30yrs lifespan?

    The physical life of a typical rail vehicle is 40-50 years, (but obviously could b e infinite if you replace every failed component as required). The rational *economic* life is widely regarded as 30 years. As vehicle age, their failure rate increases, they need more maintenance more often, and that maintenance is more expensive as the relevant parts and expertise become less readily available.

    The Ts are at/near the end of their eccomic life, and yes, it would almost certainly be cheaper to order more A sets. Or they could chose not to, and perform maintenance cycles as if the Ts are barnd new, and then live with failures. NSW has a sorry history of the latter approach to fleet management.

    My own personal theory of optomising fleet use is to use the new members of your fleet (<20yo) for base load operations: 18 hrs a day, 7 days a week. And once they reach 20yo wrap them in cotton wool and only use them for peak load operations. So they run 5 hrs a day, 5 days a week. This way you can be generous with your maintenance cycles, and hopefully extend the useful/economic life of the older fleet members to 40+ years.

  5. michblogs says:

    They are in Chatswood, where you can’t use Opal yet.

  6. michblogs says:

    “The Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthConnex freeway linking the M2 near North Rocks to the M1 near Wahroonga predicts that the current 18 minute trip along this route will blow out to 27 minutes if NorthConnex is not built. If the road tunnel is built, the increase in duration of this trip will be limited and be only 20 minutes. Motorists opting to take NorthConnex will take 5 minutes but pay $7 for the privilege.”

    Five minutes ? Really ? What speed are they going to allow in this tunnel ?

  7. michblogs says:

    The goal of a single train type is doomed to failure. The Waratahs are already obsolete technology. Any established rail system is going to be planning to replace a quarter of it’s fleet, every ten years. You are always going to have three or four generations of technology in service at any one time, you might as well get used to the idea.

  8. MrV says:

    @michblogs

    Sure difficult to have strictly one train type. For one thing there is the practicality of money.
    However given the rollout of the A’s have really only just been completed there was no reason why they couldn’t have ordered more over time, certainly enough to replace the K, C and S sets for good.

    When you consider how much was spent on developing the train, why not spread that cost over more units? I guess this is why the govt. want to look at ‘off-the-shelf’, – as difficult as this will be. They realise the days of designing a train specifically for your network are fading.

    Sure, technology develops, especially with the electronic systems. But fundamentally the A set will be current for a number of years yet. The next generation is hardly going to be maglev.

    If you consider ST currently has 7 types of train operating, even getting this down to 3 or 4 types A, M, H, & T there must be some maintenance and operational savings associated with operating a more uniform fleet.
    Again we won’t know until the T upgrades are costed as to which option is preferrable.

  9. Simon says:

    Why are the Waratah’s obsolete?

  10. Tandem Train Rider says:

    @Simon: Too many decks.

  11. michblogs says:

    If you were to order more waratahs today, by the time they were delivered in, say, four years time, the computers in them would be about 12 years old – obsolete.

  12. michblogs says:

    I sent an email to my local MLA the other day, asking if the Liberal Party was prepared to guarantee that you will be permitted to drive through the Northconnex tunnel in five minutes, although it is 9 km long.

    He replied today, saying the speed limit would be, at most, 80 km, and therefore it would take about 8 minutes to travel through it. He denied that the EIS claimed it would take 5 minutes. Does anyone know exactly where this 5 minute claim is ??

    He also said there was some kind of public meeting on the issue at Hornsby RSL this tuesday, 29th, at 7 PM, which I might even go to.

  13. @Michblogs –

    The 5 minutes was from the article linked to in the post. I had a read through the EIS and couldn’t find any figures there, so I took the articles facts at face value.

  14. Simon says:

    michblogs, by that logic even the first unit off the production is obsolete when it enters service. It does what it needs to do doesn’t it? Is there some noticeable limitation from the old computers?

  15. QPP says:

    >>He also said there was some kind of public meeting on the issue at Hornsby RSL this tuesday, 29th, at 7 PM, which I might even go to.<<

    It's an "Air Quality Forum" – expect a heated session with the local campaigners angry about the ventilation stack(s)

    I would go, but some of the wife's friends who are active in the local NIMBY group (I live in Wahroonga) will doubtless be there and I don't want to be spotted/get dragged in. We have a "friendship truce" and agree not to talk about it as they know I don't agree with them

  16. MrV says:

    @michblogs
    Surely it is easy enough to upgrade the computing power independent of the train? So long as the units fits where they are supposed to and it still accepts inputs from the existing systems. Even if it still only ran the existing software, at least it would have better specifications to accept newer versions in the future. I still don’t see how this makes the train itself obsolete.

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