NWRL trains unveiled and will run every 4 minutes

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , , ,

VIDEO: Sydney’s new train unveiled as part of NWRL, Transport for NSW

Trains on the North West Rail Link (NWRL), the first part of a future Sydney Rapid Transit network, will run every 4 minutes during peak hour as part of the $3.7bn operations contract signed by the government. This is more frequent than the originally promised 5 minute frequencies previously committed to by the government, while off peak frequencies will remain at 10 minutes.

Artists impression of the trains to run on the NWRL at Kellyville Station. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Artists impression of the trains to run on the NWRL at Kellyville Station. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Trains on the $8.3bn railway will initially have 6 cars, though platforms will be built to handle 8 car trains. Maximum capacity on the line is 30 trains per hour, twice the planned 15 trains an hour required for 4 minute frequencies. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 15 trains per hour will allow for 17,280 passengers per hour, with 5,500 to 6,000 of those seated. Assuming that the maximum of 30 trains per hour is reached, this is two thirds the seated capacity of Sydney’s current double deck trains (which are too large to fit through the tunnels being built for the NWRL) but almost one and a half times the total overall capacity of double deck trains. This will partly be achieved by having less seating, with both longitudinal and transverse seating shown on artists impressions. Unlike most of the Sydney Trains rolling stock, the transverse seating shown is not reversible.

Trains will be driverless, the first in Australia to do so. This removes the need to reserve the front and back of the train for drivers and/or guards, allowing passengers to view straight ahead or behind for the first time. They will also benefit from level boarding with no gaps between platform and train, as well as make use of screen doors at platforms. Space will be available on trains for pram, luggage, and bicycle storage.

Trains will run every 4 minutes during peak hour, every 10 minutes off peak. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Tunneling on the new rail line began last week, 4 months ahead of schedule. The line is expected to open in 2019, initially terminating at Chatswood. An under the Harbour rail crossing would form the second phase of the Sydney Rapid Transit network, connecting it to the CBD, while a third phase would convert the Bankstown Line to single deck metro operation and extend the network further to Bankstown. The second phase is conditional on the money raised from the 49% sale of the state’s “poles and wires” electricity distribution network.

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Comments
  1. Frosty18 says:

    Will these trains run on 25KV AC or 1,500DC Overhead ?

  2. @Frosty18 –

    The only info I’ve found is this page on the Alstom website for the types of trains that will run on the NWRL.

    http://www.alstom.com/transport/products-and-services/trains/metro-metropolis/

  3. Frosty18 says:

    @Bambul
    Thanks for the info

  4. JC says:

    Good point. So we will have a choice. Not taking the 1500V option would be even more bonkers than the tunnel size. It would mean rewiring/repowering Chatswood-Eppimg and mean *very* long closures. If it is only the stations that need refitting, there is no reason to close the line at all. Any significant engineering stuff could be none weekends/nights, and the station refits could be done one at a time after the new trains are runnning. We would just have to risk getting on and off the new trains without the benefit of platform doors for a few months.

  5. Mushalik says:

    How will they fill the trains? The M2 has just been widened, the area is low density and there are only 4,000 park and ride spots at stations, enough for just 4 trains. Only massive high rise towers around 4 stations may generate sufficient patronage. It is now clear that Australian housing is overvalued so we cannot be sure whether all these residential developments will go ahead.

    Another oil price spike and credit crunch before 2020 (a religious war has started over Middle East oil fields) and the NWRL will be in big financial trouble.

    Under no circumstances should the existing Epping – Chatswood tunnel be converted to single deck automatic trains with screen doors along platforms to preclude the use of double deckers. The whole project is ill-conceived.

    A much longer light rail network for the same money or a rail line on the M2 (like Transperth) would have been much better.

  6. Alex says:

    @Frosty18 – my understanding was that it will be 1,500V DC.
    @JC – today’s SMH is suggesting seven months closure: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/hundreds-of-buses-to-replace-epping-to-chatswood-rail-line-for-seven-months-20140918-10il6w.html.

    To quote: “To upgrade the existing line to run driverless trains, new signalling systems need to be installed and screens fitted between the station platform and the train line. The government also says it will install new lighting and air-conditioning systems.”

    Not sure why the latter upgrades are necessary though, because the current lighting and aircon are only a few years old.

    @Mushalik – I recall that patronage projections have always indicated that there will be reasonably high demand for the NWRL. This was even well before the current metro proposal, so it’s not just a matter of some private sector firm inflating the figures as happened with some of the road tunnels. Whether the projections provide a rationale for a metro rather than double-deck trains is another matter.

    Also there are “urban activation precincts” planned for around the stations with moderate levels of medium and high density, as well as employment zones. Detailed plans have been released for three – Bella Vista, Kellyville and Showground – see http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/NewsCentre/LatestNews/TabId/775/ArtMID/1658/ArticleID/203/New-Homes-Near-Transport-and-Jobs-for-Sydneys-North-West.aspx

    To quote (figures are for these three precincts alone): “The further investigations follow the release of the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy last year. Broad plans outlined the vision for each precinct and identified the potential across the three precincts for up to 19,000 jobs and 12,000 homes, with a mix of housing types including townhouses, detached homes and apartments.”

    Given this level of development and demand a LR might have been feasible but it would probably have had to operate at capacity and would be significantly slower.

    Personally I agree with you about the Epping-Chatswood conversion – I think it is a retrograde step and obviously would not be needed if the NWRL was built to take conventional trains. But frankly I don’t have enough time to participate in yet another endless debate about metro v. DD trains. And there is not much point now, given that the contracts have all been let and it is a fait accompli – we’re getting the thing whether we like it or not.

    Anyway, Sydney voters and in particular those in the NW will have an opportunity to pass judgement in 2019, just after the NWRL opens and they can use the PERL section again after seven months of buses.

    In the meantime the best thing we can do is to try to make it work and to ask questions about how the exchanges are going to be handled, how fares will be structured and whether and how the thing should be extended across the harbour without stuffing up the existing rail network entirely but also maximising the advantages of a metro. For example, the current plans, which are sketchy at best, suggest there won’t be a station between Central and Sydenham, which is lunacy. There should be an additional station at least to serve the Sydney Uni/Camperdown area.

    There is also the wider question of whether the NWRL is a stalking horse for the eventual break-up and privatisation of the whole Sydney rail network. The more I look at this the more I think this is on the cards.

  7. mich says:

    See the picture of the inside of the train ? These trains are likely to be fitted with the same kind of seats often seen in the USA – capable of seating one bargearse or two children, but not two adults, even skinny ones.
    No doubt Gladys propaganda will still count that as two seats.

  8. mich says:

    I wonder what are the comparative injury statistics for people falling off platforms compared to people falling over standing on trains ?

  9. mich says:

    “how fares will be structured ” ?

    They say it will use Opal.

  10. Alexsg says:

    @mich – Opal is first and foremost a ticketing system within which fares can be varied fairly easily. It would not be too difficult to introduce a different fare structure within Opal specifically for the NWRL since it is so segregated from the rest of the rail network.

    Another option would be to keep the same fare structure but to regard the NWRL as a different mode and to charge a flagfall for interchanges between the heavy rail and metro networks, much as Gladys has decided to do with bus-train transfers.

  11. MrV says:

    Be better off to have longitudinal seating on both sides, and maximise the standing area. A compromise with forward/rear facing seats, that in reality will be taken up by the bargearses (as @mich mentions) seems pointless.

  12. JC says:

    I agree we should just get on with it – we will end up with mtros where we should have suburbans and suburbans where we should have metros – but hey at least we will have something! You are right to identify that activism /lobbying etc needs to focus on getting the best possible out of what’s on offer – and I would add to your list….

    More seats – there is no reason not to have mostly 2+2 and less unnecessary standing room – since the demand for crush loading out on McMansionland will be minimal (HK MTR has the UK crossrail contract – so they can do outer-suburban)

    Minimise the closure time – as above there will be a need for some short closure for signalling etc – but the station work – especially the lighting and aircon (??). With proper project management this can be done after the new trains are runnung by closing one station at a time for a month or so. I thought the whole point of privatisation was to be more cstomer focussed.

    And for the longer term, a real commitment to 2nd harbour crossing – or at least the Chatswood-Crows Nest-North Sydney bit….and def the Central-Sydenham black hole. [I have always thought it was just a sick joke that the high density metro seems to deliberately avoid the high density suburbs].

  13. JC says:

    …and from the bargearse point of view I don’t think it will be that bad. The trains will be about the same width as current stock (HK MTR trains are 3.0m, Waratahs are 3.035m) – and they will be 4 across (not 5 like in the Waratahs). They will also be facing and thereforte easier top get iwithoutnto and out of without the bum in the face and the stilettos on your feet that feature in the current airline style. If it is 2+2 facing for most of the train it will be more comfortable most of the time than the status quo (except for the inner sections at peak time).

  14. mich says:

    Six passengers per sq metre, in extreme comfort. And only 90 km/hr max, which really isn’t very good. The red rattlers could do better than that.

  15. mich says:

    I think you have parlly missed the point on the strange seating. Perhaps you haven’t caught many US city buses. With seats the size of regular sydney bus seats, or melbourne trains, if a large person is sitting down, you can sit next to them. Only super-large people make that impossible. US buses have seats which are about 170 cm narrower, impossible to sit next to even an average-sized adult. if you look at the photo/impression in thursday’s Herald, you will see what I mean. The photo bambul has used here is different.

  16. mich says:

    From the alstom amsterdamm case study: Urbalis and metropolis will be deployed on the new north south line and the existing metro lines with zero service disruption.

  17. mich says:

    New Amsterdam line 9 km. New Panama line, 13 km with cbd in the middle, not the end. Refurbished Lille line, 13 km, also with the CBD near the middle, with automatic steering !

  18. Ray says:

    The thing that really sticks in my craw, is the deliberate misinformation and outright lies to justify the rapid transit concept.

    Here are a few examples of questionable claims in the Overview for the ECRL conversion.

    “The benefits that rapid transit will bring to the Epping to Chatswood railway are significant, taking the number of trains from just four trains an hour in the peak direction today to 15 rapid transit trains in the future – new rapid transit will deliver almost four times the number of trains”.

    There’s an inference here that only rapid transit can dramatically increase the frequency, whereas they conveniently neglect to mention that DD trains can in fact easily match that. The NW rapid transit is never going to demand any higher frequency, let alone 30 trains an hour.

    “Enable 20 more trains an hour in both directions through the Sydney CBD City Circle line each morning peak hour”.

    This is very sloppy and clearly a false statement. They have deliberately overlooked the fact that with the removal of the Bankstown line services from the City Circle, the Inner West line and Airport line will continue to feed into it.

    “Free up capacity for the critical Western line”.

    How?

    “Deliver less crowded CBD rail stations with less people getting on and off at Wynyard and Town Hall”.

    This is questionable at best. It is only Bankstown line passengers that will have an impact.

    “A 60 per cent increase in train services to the CBD from across Sydney”.

    Most of this increase will be on a new line from the North West and bears minimal relevance to the rest of the Sydney Trains network.

    “The platforms will be level with the train doors”.

    As if you have to take a giant step up now. New station infrastructure would also obviously have level access to DD trains.

    “All trains on the North West Rail Link will be new, modern, `next generation` single deck rapid transit trains”.

    Not exclusive to single deck rapid transit.

    “Sydney’s rapid transit capacity of about 40,000 people per hour. Sydney’s current suburban trains can reliably carry 24,000 people an hour per line”.

    This is the most deceptive claim of all, comparing apples with oranges. They compare a crush load rapid transit train on a new upgraded line with a less than crush load double decker on the existing infrastructure. To make a valid comparison, you have to acknowledge that a DD train would also benefit from a new upgraded line increasing its frequency to at least 26 trains per hour. Paris RER DD’s run at 30 trains per hour. Their respective line capacities, comparing like with like, would then be similar. There is also the tradeoff of dramatically reduced and fixed seating on the rapid transit trains on a long outer suburban journey which may not go down well with the public. You give the customer what they want, don’t you, or suffer the consequences?

    Some other observations:-

    The existing ECRL track connections with the Northern Line at Epping and the North Shore Line at Chatswood will be removed.

    From mid 2018 the train timetable will change to provide services from Hornsby to the “city” via Strathfield instead of via Macquarie Park. However, no detail is given on whether these services will terminate at Central or continue through the CBD to the North Shore (probably not likely until at least after the next election to keep the Cheltenham/Beecroft folk guessing).

    Some of the most bizarre suggestions for alternative travel arrangements during the ECRL shutdown are –

    “Customers from Eastwood who want to travel to Artarmon can catch a train to Hornsby and change to a T1 North Shore Line train to Artarmon”, and
    “Customers from Gordon can catch a train to Hornsby and then change trains to travel to Beecroft”.

    Why would you bother? You could probably walk it faster.

  19. Alexsg says:

    @Ray – I agree with a lot of what you say, but as I noted earlier the contracts have been let and like or not we have to accept that the NWRL is going to be built as a SD metro.

    In any case, whatever the technical virtues of either metro or DD systems are, they are not really the point – this decision is much more about ideology. The government wants to build a private line with automatic operation and low staffing costs that no future government can integrate back into the current network. Instead, bits of the DD network will be converted to metro and effectively given to the operator, and I’m not sure that process will stop with either PERL or the Bankstown line.

    I think the long-term aim is to break up the rail network and sell and/or franchise the bits to the private sector – provided in the first instance that the metro operates successfully and proves to be popular with the punters. And I think this will be an interesting test, with voters getting the option to respond next year but particularly in 2019.

    Whatever happens though, this first metro line will be built. And though they may criticise the metro concept, I don’t think Labor if it won office would contemplate reneging on the contracts, a process which would cost millions.

  20. gseeney says:

    First I just want to mention what a fantastic blog this is – above the start of comments anyway!

    This could be a great place to discuss evidence based transport planning, but instead it is overrun by a few repeat individuals that repeat their claims about the NWRL ad nauseam and add nothing new.

    I agree 100% with the general thrust of Alexsg’s posts – can we please use the signing of the contracts to draw a line under the SD vs DD debate on the NWRL and move on to discussions on how what has been proposed can be best integrated with the rest of the network based on the settled fact of what is being built.

    A few examples:

    Discussion about fares – it has been stated many times by the minister that the fares will be integrated with the rest of the rail system with no difference between the NWRL and Sydney Trains. The questions that we should be asking now are around what HASN’T been promised and that is integration between buses and trains! If there is not integration of fares between buses and trains before the line opens in 2019 there will be a great many existing bus commuters who will be disadvantaged. This is a much more valid place to focus discussion as it is legitimately up in the air.

    Final makeup of the Sydney Trains timetable post 2018 – it has been stated that the upper Northern Line trains will go to the city via Strathfield, and everyone is assuming that these will terminate at Strathfield. It is probably true that that is the case based on current planning, but lets remember that the timetables of 2018 are more than a few iterations away, and timetables and train routing can be changed up until right before they are released and shaped by political pressure (remembering that this will be leading up to the 2019 election). If you accept that the NWRL is going ahead as planned (it is) then the conversion becomes less ‘OMG NWRL taking away upper northern line services!!!!!’ and becomes a discussion of how best to provide services to the Northern and Western lines into the CBD based on available capacity split between the existing line and Sydney Terminal. As an example, a legitimate argument could be made for allowing 4tph from the upper Northern Line to head through the CBD at the expense of 4tph from the Western Line terminating at Central, based on the fact that Western line commuters have other services to choose from that may end up more direct. This is just one suggestion to show that accepting that the NWRL is going to be SD doesn’t have to be the end of the debate around its flow on impacts.

  21. Alexsg says:

    @gseeny – thanks for the response and the comment on fares. I was overseas when Gladys released the statement with the comment on fares: http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/media/20130501%20Med%20Rel%20Gladys%20Berejiklian%20NWRL%20Operations%20Contract%20shortlisted.pdf

    Actually her statement says: “Importantly, the State Government will set and control fares – which will be determined the same way as fares on the rest of the Sydney rail network. The private operator will make no money directly from the fares.”

    I may be being picky or pedantic, but this doesn’t actually state the fares will be integrated with no difference to the rest of the network, just that they will be determined in the same way. Arguably to take your point about bus fares, you can also say the same thing – under Opal they are determined through the same process, but you still have pay a flag fall when changing between the systems. Nothing in the minister’s statement explicitly rules this out from happening with NWRL to Sydeney Trains transfers.

    On the other hand I accept that such a flag fall may be unlikely as it would mean that people going from bus to metro to train (or train-metro-train) would pay a double transfer which would be very unpopular politically. However my broader point, which in a sense chimes in with your comment about the timetable, is that while we have to accept there is no turning back on this decision, we should:

    a) argue for the best possible outcomes in terms of the decisions that are yet to be made around metro fares, timetables, station locations south of the harbour etc etc; and

    b) hold the minister and the government fully to account in relation to any and all of the promises and commitments they have made about the NWRL and its benefits.

  22. Joy says:

    Thank you so much for the information. It’s so nice to know that Sydney’s transport system is starting to advance, and that our Western suburbs are receiving an upgrade.

  23. Ray says:

    I acknowledge that the NWRL Rapid Transit is now a fait accompli and I don’t propose to enter into any further debate on its pros and cons. I have just been venting my spleen.

    I agree that we should now focus on how to make the most of what is before us and particularly how to further improve the existing Sydney Trains network, which will remain the dominant system for some years to come.

    I have previously made my attitude towards the future extension of Rapid Transit across the harbour clear, in that although I accept it is now inevitable, it should connect with future separate inner city Rapid Transit lines rather than converting sections of the existing network. Leave Sydney Trains alone! Suburban and Rapid Transit systems are incompatible. The London Crossrail project is a case in point, in that it is extending an outer suburban rail system through the London city centre without any suggestion that it is a rapid transit service or outdated technology, even though it won’t be fully automated. It is separate from the London Underground.

    While it is unlikely that Labor will win the next election, it could be in a better position leading up to the 2019 election if the Liberals don’t pull their socks up. In any event, I can’t see them cancelling any of the existing NWRL contracts if they got in next year. With the first TBM already in the ground, there’s no turning back, literally, as it can only move forward until it reaches the open cut station site at Cherrybrook.

    In response to @gseeny, I don’t think there is any assumption that upper Northern Line trains will terminate at Strathfield. The government has made an unequivocal commitment to route these services direct to the “city”, although they still haven’t given specific details on whether they will terminate at Central or continue through the CBD to the North Shore. There are no spare paths on the Suburban tracks from Strathfield to Central, so they will either have to take over the existing Epping to Central services, with the latter transferring to the Main tracks to Sydney Terminal, or swap with some Western Line services as you suggest. Either way, it’s not going to please everyone.

  24. gseeney says:

    @Ray – I’m glad you bring up Crossrail . Lets look at some facts.

    http://www.crossrail.co.uk/assets/download/4962

    The trains: Single deck, many doors, fast acceleration, trains with 1/3rd of passengers getting a seat, off the shelf trains

    Operations: Automatic train operation in the central (new) section, platform screen doors, private operating concession, built and operated separately to the tube but with integrated fare system and certainly seen as an integral part of the network

    The line: Connecting to and taking over existing suburban lines in order to improve service on those lines

    Sound familiar?

    The only difference to SRT is that we are building one of the suburban spurs first, entirely for political reasons – the NWRL had been argued over for so long that it just had to happen for the government to have any credibility. In reality the cross harbour tunnel should have been the first stage, and then this would be almost indistinguishable from Crossrail. Crossrail kind of proves the point that suburban/rapid transit are not really distinct categories, that the lines between them are blurred, and that they can be happily integrated in a single comprehensive system that uses the best available and most cost effective technology at the time for each line constructed.

  25. QPP says:

    @ Ray, some of your comments about Crossrail are furphies

    It may not be “driverless” or “fully automated” but it is being fitted with ETCS Level 2 so with that capability and will run on automatic in the London section

    Also the implied comparison between Crossrail (suburban in your eyes, I think) and LU (as being “rapid transit” ) isn’t valid. The tube is a legacy system that whilst serviceable and does a lot of heavy lifting in terms of people movement, isn’t something anyone would try to (nor indeed is trying to) replicate in the 21st century

  26. gseeney says:

    @Ray Regarding the train’s terminating at Strathfield – my appologies as that was a typo – I did intend to write Sydney Terminal/Central in it’s place. I certainly don’t think anyone is assuming the trains would terminate at Strathfield (Although I think there could be a valid argument made post CBD rail link for the Northern Line to be integrated into a revival of the old Strathfield – Hurstville proposal to form a frequent mid city semi-orbital route cutting across all of the main lines into the CBD)

  27. gseeney says:

    Actually if you take a look at the current timetable, I think you can see their intentions via the fact that the upper northern line paths are already in there.

    As an example (go and take a look and you will know what I mean…) move the upper northern line trains forward by the 3 minutes and it lines up perfectly with the current 2 extra peak hour Epping starters that currently run to Sydney Terminal. Moving these forward by 3 minutes also doesn’t conflict with the interurbans.

  28. gseeney says:

    Actually if that is the case it is a pretty good deal for the upper Northern line commuters heading to the southern part of the CBD. The travel time Hornsby to Central is 44 minutes via Strathfield, vs 59 minutes via ECRL and lower shore.

  29. Simon says:

    JC, not sure why the voltage is such a big deal? There’ll be extra space for bigger insulators with the smaller trains. I don’t see a problem with using it.

    Mushalik, quite right that the trains will be lightly loaded. But who cares? People voted for the line and now they’ll get it.

    Now, as for Ray’s comments, a lot of the actual lies about the project have come from the Premier as far as I’ve seen. Technically, I don’t think I’ve yet caught Gladys in a blatant lie – not sticking to the inference is her stock in trade though.

    I’d be looking for sources for:
    1. “The benefits that rapid transit will bring to the Epping to Chatswood railway are significant, taking the number of trains from just four trains an hour in the peak direction today to 15 rapid transit trains in the future – new rapid transit will deliver almost four times the number of trains”

    2. “Enable 20 more trains an hour in both directions through the Sydney CBD City Circle line each morning peak hour”

    3. “Free up capacity for the critical Western Line”

    4. “Deliver less crowded CBD rail stations with less people getting on and off at Wynyard and Town Hall”

    In fact, as far as I’ve seen Gladys has studiously steered clear of promising anything for the Western Line, let alone the “critical” Western Line. If the Libs have admitted anywhere that the Western Line is critical, I want to see that! The Premier has made this mistake, and I’m still waiting for a response to my query of this comment. Gladys’ usual comment is more like the deliberately deceptive “increase capacity 60%”.

    gseeney, the suggestion of Western Line trains not entering Town Hall to allow Upper Northern Line trains to do so is not legitimate or reasonable. Why not have the Southern Highlands do it then, since everyone needs to have a train to there?

  30. Alex says:

    @Simon – yes, in relation to the Premier and Minister’s statements there does appear to be a bit of disinformation – either that or they’re making it up as they go along. However in terms of promises wasn’t there something at some stage about upgrades on the Western line to increase capacity? Nothing too specific though.

    The impacts south of the harbour will be the other side of the political equation in the 2019 election. Not only will NWRL and PERL users get to have a say, but also those who will already have been affected for better or worse by then – North Shore and in particular the Western line – and those in other areas who (hopefully) will have a better idea about how their services will be affected when the line is extended across the Harbour.

    It’s interesting that the government has indicated it will take a commitment to the second harbour crossing to the election next year. My suspicion is that they may want to sign contracts for this so it’s irrevocably committed for the 2019 elections, much as they have done this time around for the NWRL. That way the whole of the private line would be a fait accompl years before it opens, even if they lose the 2019 election.

  31. Simon says:

    Alex, before this rapid transit rubbish there was a 7 optioned plan, all seven options including a renamed Western Express. All that was dumped for this crap, regrettably.

  32. Alex says:

    This also leaves the interesting question of what approach Labor should take towards the SRT in next year’s election given that stage 1 the NWRL will definitely be built. Bearing in mind that an opposition’s main job is to oppose, here a few suggestions off the top of my head:

    1. Commit to the government’s broad plan for completing the NWRL and extending the SRT south of the harbour but promise to do it faster/cheaper and/or better, eg by addressing a few of the issues raised in the comments above. I would think for example that committing to close the PERL for a shorter period of time and committing to a station at Sydney Uni would be two options.

    2. Commit to completing the NWRL but defer the second stage indefinitely or at least until the operational issues on the Western line are fully resolved.

    3. Here is a very Machiavellian suggestion – propose extending the NWRL from Chatswood not to the city but across the north side to, say, Neutral Bay or The Spit, possibly as a very long-term promise to extend it to the northern beaches, combined with a proposal to build the second harbour crossing as a heavy rail DD line to meet this North Sydney Rapid Transit. This option would provide additional capacity for the heavy rail system, provide an interchange for the private SRT but confine it to the north side of the harbour permanently.

  33. Alex says:

    @Simon – I know, but the cards have been dealt and we have to now play the hand we have, whether we think it was fair or not. Also see my perspective on what Labor should think about for the next election, above.

  34. QPP says:

    >>It’s interesting that the government has indicated it will take a commitment to the second harbour crossing to the election next year. My suspicion is that they may want to sign contracts for this so it’s irrevocably committed for the 2019 elections, much as they have done this time around for the NWRL. That way the whole of the private line would be a fait accompl years before it opens, even if they lose the 2019 election.<<

    I don't think there's any question about this.

    They (Coalition) have set out their manifesto already in this regard – vote for them and they'll sell off 49% of the poles & wires and use it for the second harbour crossing

    There is already a team on the SHC work, effectively they are just rolling over the NWRL development type people on to that job. So by the time of next year's election – not 2019 – they will have the scheme worked out at concept level even if it's not in the public domain

    4 years is plenty of time to get detailed designs done and contractors on board. I don't think there's any question of them doing anything else

    So yes – a vote for the LNP in 2015 is a vote for the SHC as a rapid transit line. By 2019 it will be a done deal in the way the NWRL is a done deal now (although to be fair it was *effectively* a done deal over a year ago – again similar timescales will apply)

  35. A 25kV 50 Hz AC system would be beneficial with high frequency services like this, and there are ways of installing such a system in an exiting tunnel (such as using an overhead conductor rail, such as Perth’s new City Link tunnel, which had to be built too small to accommodate overhead wires because of engineering difficulties), but metro trains can be built to run off very efficient 1.5kV systems, such as Hong Kong or other Asian metros. So there is no real reason to stick with the existing type of supply, but no reason to use a new system either, as far as I can see. They just need to retrofit the substations on the ECRL to accommodate the new trains if they want to use the existing system; same on the Bankstown Line.

    Also: does anyone know if rapid transit trains will continue beyond Bankstown or not? The map shows they will terminate there, so what happens to the commuters on the Lidcombe and Liverpool branches if that turns out to be true?

  36. jc says:

    @simon/walter armstrong: Voltage itself is not important (AC or DC could work) but *converting* the voltage on the Chatswood-Epping section – with new substations etc – can only magnify costs and lengthen the closure time.

    @mich – fair enough if you are talking about seat design rather than size. Do you mean the moulded plastic ones? Another thing we can add too the list of stuff they can do to make us happy but won’t cost much.

    re crossrail – it shows you can convert suburban lines to metro standard (as the RER did some decades ago); and that you don’t have to convert all the stations to platform doors from day 1.

  37. MrV says:

    I do wonder that by the time this line is completed and a then the new second harbour crossing and new city stations are built that urban growth to the south of the cbd will have progressed to the point where it will be worth getting another TBM and just continue building brand new line rather than the fantasy of trying to convert the Bankstown line with all it’s problems of legacy infrastructure?
    There would be heaps of possibilities of where a new line to the south could go.

  38. Ray says:

    @simon – The various questionable comments made about the NWRL Rapid Transit which I quoted were contained in the just released Overview document for the ECRL conversion. So I think it is reasonable to assume that Gladys would have given her consent, although she may not of uttered the words herself.

    @gseeney -My comments with regard to Crossrail were to demonstrate how this project is very different to a stand alone rapid transit system. It may well have similar standards to a rapid transit system, but it is still essentially a suburban rail system extending through Central London. It has been compared to the Paris RER and Berlin S-Bahn (and also co-incidentally to Sydney’s suburban rail network). It will also continue to share tracks on outer sections with other suburban services. Sound familiar! While I said that it will not be fully automated, I was referring to the outer sections but I acknowledge that it will be on the new Central London section. So there is obviously a degree of compatibility with other services. I harken back to my earlier remarks that through his foresight, Bradfield introduced the hybrid system to Sydney nearly a century ago, so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

    With regard to the Northern Line services post NWRL, I am aware of the 2 additional peak hour semi-express services under the new timetable from Epping to Sydney Terminal which could be logically extended from Hornsby. There is also room for another 2 similar services as well, which would allow for the 4 upper Northern Line services to be transferred. However, the government still hasn’t given any detail of how the Northern Line will be reorganised.

    @MrV – My sentiments entirely. This is the basis of my whole arguement. As I suggested previously, the first priority should be connecting it to the West Metro to Parramatta via Barangaroo.

  39. Simon says:

    Ray, I’ve gotten the source for statement 1, but can’t find it for 2/3/4.

    It remains to be seen whether a return to 8tph would be sufficient for the northern line. It could easily need more.

  40. Ray says:

    Simon, the other statements were on pages 6 & 7 of the Overview of the ECRL document.

  41. Ray says:

    Simon, with regard to services on the Northern Line, prior to the ECRL, there were 4 semi-express services from Hornsby and 4 all stations from Epping in the peak. They all ran via the Suburban tracks through the city to the North Shore. After the ECRL closes down, I expect that the Northern Line will revert to 8 services via Strathfield, although 4 will have to terminate at Central. It may well need additional services, particulary with future redevelopment along the line, but I don’t think there would be any more room for them until at least the full quad from Epping to Strathfield is completed.

  42. > After the ECRL closes down, I expect that the Northern Line will revert to 8 services via Strathfield,
    > although 4 will have to terminate at Central.

    Don’t be silly Ray! We all know the upper main northern will terminate at Epping, and PAX will get shuttle busses to Chatswood :-).

  43. Simon says:

    Sorry to be a pain Ray, but can you provide a link to that document?

  44. Ray says:

    Simon, the document is at and click on the Overview link.

  45. Ray says:

    Simon, sorry the link to the document didn’t show up. I’ll try again.
    http://nwrail.transport.nsw.gov.au/The-Project/Epping-to-Chatswood

  46. Ray says:

    @ttr99 > Don’t be silly Ray! We all know that the upper main northern will terminate at Epping and PAX will get shuttle busses to Chatswood.

    If you refer to the document above in my reply to Simon,you will note that it specifically states that Northern Line services will travel from Hornsby to the city via West Ryde and Strathfield after the ECRL shutdown.

  47. This makes me wonder if increased services will help reduce incidences of antisocial behaviour on the Sydney train network? More services = less congestion = reduction in stress/frustration for commuters = a more well-behaved commuter population? Peak hour congestion causes stress and frustration that leads to selfish, antisocial behaviour such as pushing and shoving past everyone to get the last seat on the train because you’re exhausted. Namely, #TheBulldozer – as highlighted on the following blog post http://thecommutersyd.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/58/. Check it out and let me know your thoughts! – Meagan O’H, The Commuter Syd

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