This week in transport (14 September 2014)

Posted: September 14, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , , , ,

VIDEO: TBM1 Elizabeth assembly and start of tunnelling, Transport for NSW

Monday: NWRL tunneling begins 4 months ahead of schedule

The first of 4 tunnel boring machines (TBM) began work on the 15km twin tunnels that will form the core of the 23km North West Rail Link. Tunneling was expected to begin by the end of this year. The current TBM, along with a second when it is ready, are beginning from Bella Vista and will cut a pair of 9km tunnels through to Cherrybrook, where a second pair of TBMs will cut another pair of 6km tunnels to Epping.

Tunneling is likely to take about 2 years, with station and tunnel fit outs to take an additional 2 years, and a final year to bring the line to operational rediness in time for a 2019 opening.

4 tunnel boring machines like these will be used on the NWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

4 tunnel boring machines like these will be used on the NWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Monday: Sydney Trains cancel cleaning contract midway through

An agreement with Transfield to manage cleaning services for Sydney Trains has been cancelled 2 years into the 4 year contract. The cleaning will still be contracted out, but the management of the private contractors has been brought in house within Sydney Trains.

Thursday: Opal bus rollout two thirds done

Opal readers have been enabled on buses in Sydney’s Inner West as well as in the lower Hunter region. This brings the number of Opal enabled buses up to 3,290. There are 5,000 buses in NSW that are on track to be Opal enabled by the end of the year.

850,000 Opal cards have been issued, a large increase on the 500,000 Opal cards that had been issued at the start of August.

Friday: Granville parking and bus interchange upgrade complete

Granville Station’s bus interchange upgrade has been completed, along with an increase in 40 car spaces for commuter parking. Construction on an additional 20 car parking spaces is also planned to commence soon.

Saturday: SWRL completed, will open in early 2015

The South West Rail Link has been completed a year ahead of schedule and $300m under budget. The line was originally announced in 2005, with a $688m budget and an expected opening date of 2012. However, by the time it had been scheduled to be completed in 2012, the budget had blown out to $2.1bn and the opening date pushed back to 2016.

The line will be opened early next year, with January being rumoured as the planned date. The new line’s timetables and operating patterns will be worked out between now and when it is opened.

Map of the SWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Glenfield Transport Interchange Review of Environmental Factors, page 2)

Map of the SWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Glenfield Transport Interchange Review of Environmental Factors, page 2)

VIDEO: South West Rail Link complete, Seven News (14 September 2014)

  1. QPP says:

    It (the format of the NWRL) was entirely a TfNSW call. Leighton could only wish/dream of being able to influence the government to that extent.

    I know it plays well in the community to believe that everything the government does is corrupt, but when it comes to procurement of projects I have never worked in a country (now 6 and counting) that has stricter probity rules, more strictly applied. And the ability of TfNSW not to leak in unsurpassed in my experience. Normally when a contract is in procurement, the industry gets to know fairly soon after tenders are submitted who is in the box seat. Not in this state. It’s completely locked down until a week or two out from award, which is impressive

    I think things can appear corrupt because the market is quite small, so (as ever in this country) there are only really 2 Tier 1 contractors for big infrastructure projects, and a smallish and quite incestuous group of consultants. For projects of any complexity, the government doesn’t have much choice but to award the design to one of the bigger design houses who work on all the jobs, and the construction to a consortium that involves one of the Lend Lease or Leighton OpCos, because giving it to someone else is a big risk

    This doesn’t mean LL or LHL make good money out of construction; they don’t. LL makes a lot more from development than contracting, LHL makes more from mining services.

    BTW, there’s no suggestion that the Leighton bribery stuff ever went on beyond the international business, primarily in the Middle East. I don’t know the details, but mainly because I haven’t looked into it in any detail. It’s pretty much impossible to do business in much of the Middle East without paying bribes of some sort. Some companies are just better at hiding it (or, even more cynically, better at bribing the right people to keep it secret or better at not irritating the previously bribed into spilling the beans….). So again, if you are looking at this news story and thinking “A-ha! That MUST be what went on with the NWRL” then you’re barking up the wrong tree

  2. QPP says:

    The OTS contract for NWRL has been fully signed up today:

  3. JC says:

    I bow to QPP’s first hand knowlegdge if these matters – but I’m not sure the NSW body politic will be convinced that transport contracts are uniquely free of the corruption we have seen in mining, planning etc etc.

    But if so it is almost more depressing. The state of Sydney transport – all the over-priced substandard equipment, misspent investment etc etc is due only to breathtaking incompetence over several generations.

  4. shiggyshiggy says:

    I just came back from London. I noticed that the tube has different tunnel sizes, and therefore, different train specifications.

    Can someone remind me again why it is an issue that the tunnels are being bored smaller?

  5. QPP says:

    It’s an issue if you are of one of the following opinions:
    a) You have an ideological objection to privatisation
    b) You think integration with the existing network offers enough flexibility in future operating patterns to be worth the compromise of limited trains per hour in the short-medium term future until bottlenecks elsewhere are dealt with
    c) You think DD trains are inherently superior

    On that basis I’m perfectly OK with separate networks. As you have pointed out, other cities have separated systems that work fine; one of the downsides of integration is lack of redundancy. From a customer PoV, if there is a failure in (say) the ECRL tunnel, it makes no difference if you get off an SRT train at Epping and catch a ST train to the CBD, than if it was a ST train that went all the way and could somehow be redirected. Either way it’s degraded operation and in the real world, there just aren’t the spare train paths in timetables to allow trains to be re-routed on the fly.

    I have no ideological objection to privatisation. As a taxpayer, I dislike the very high operating costs of ST that I pay for in my taxes and welcome anything that gets the level of central subsidy down, be that competition or efficiency driven some other way

    I have no inherent belief that DD trains are superior. From a “passenger per hour” perspective there’s almost nothing in it and IMO the whole suggestion that metro trains are “mickey mouse” or “not heavy rail” is a complete furphy. I don’t care what the format of the train is particularly – it is capacity, speed, reliability and comfort I care about, not how many decks it has and there is nothing intrinsic to DD that offers marked superiority in this regard.

    So no, I haven’t got a problem. I think it is perfectly clear why the government has pushed ahead with deliberately building tunnels too small for DD trains; it lessens the ability of future governments to prevaricate, cancel or amend plans or get caught up in the endless churn of debate. We’ve had more than enough of that in the past 15 years, I would prefer to see something concrete being provided.

  6. JC says:

    Separate systems = fine; single deck metro trains = fine; forcing through new management structures for ST (or even provatisation) = fine. Perversely locking in any/all of these decisions for 100 years for the sake of a few, probably cost-free cm = immature, ideologically driven incompetents are in charge.

  7. shiggyshiggy says:

    Does the width have something to do with depth/angle the tunnels will be going under the harbour?

    How would you describe the various organisations/bureaucracies that run Sydney’s train network?

    What has been their operational experience in the last 30 years?

    How have they delivered projects, and run the system, in that time?

  8. Simon says:

    Or perhaps you are in camp (d) who believe that the 2nd harbour crossing is unjustified and want through trains

  9. QPP says:

    True. But then the bottleneck through the CBD and up to St Leonards can’t reliably manage the peak throughput now at, what? 18 or 19 tph?

    So you end up with a NWRL that will have 4 or maybe maximum 6 tph on it. Not enough for future growth IMO

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