This week in transport (19 October 2014)

Posted: October 19, 2014 in Transport
Tags: , , , , ,

Monday: New train station likely for Waterloo or Sydney University

The NSW Government is considering building a rail line via either Waterloo or Sydney University as part of its new Sydney Rapid Transit network according to a Sydney Morning Herald report. The line will connect to the currently under construction North West Rail Link via a Second Harbour Crossing at its Northern end near Central Station and to the Bankstown Line at its Southern end near Sydenham Station. Transport for NSW is believed to prefer a Sydney University alignment, while Urban Growth NSW, a government urban development agency, is believed to prefer a Waterloo alignment to support new developments in the area.

Erskineville Station has space on the Western end (right in this photo) for an additional 2 tracks and 2 platforms. This space may or may not be used as part of a new line between Central and Sydenham. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Erskineville Station has space on the Western end (right in this photo) for an additional 2 tracks and 2 platforms. This space may or may not be used as part of a new line between Central and Sydenham. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

An alignment also exists between Sydenham and Erskineville at add an extra pair of tracks and new platforms at both Erskineville and St Peters Stations. It is unclear whether this surface alignment will be used or if the new line will run entirely underground through to Sydenham.

Thursday: Credit cards could soon be used instead of Opal cards

The Commonwealth Bank is understood to be in talks with the Government to develop the ability to use credit or debit cards to pay for fares instead of Opal Cards. The Opal system was designed with the technical capability to use any contactless credit or debit card (i.e. anything able to use Paywave or PayPass), as well as Opal cards in order to pay a fare. London’s Oyster Card, which is based on the same technology as the Opal Card, has already introduced such a system; meanwhile the Commonwealth Bank was one member of the consortium involved in the design and rollout of Opal.

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Comments
  1. Ray says:

    If they persist with the Bankstown Line conversion to Rapid Transit, then it would make sense to use the rail corridor between Erskineville and Sydenham, particularly if the Hurstville conversion (Illawarra Local) is off the agenda. I still favour linking the Rapid Transit with the West Metro to Parramatta via Barangaroo which includes a station at Sydney University/Glebe.

  2. MrV says:

    Ray,
    Yes it looks like another case of policy on the hoof. Now we have politicians deciding where train stations should go. The problem they are trying to solve seems ill defined at present.
    Sydney Uni already has good transport options when you consider Parramatta Road probably has the most frequent bus services in all of Sydney and the other side of campus is only a short walk even by unfit students to Redfern. Now I’m sure the Uni would like a free boost to it’s property values by way of new rail line, but will they be putting money into the hat?
    They need to consider cross-city links rather than running everything to CBD in my opinion.

  3. Nick says:

    Why can’t they build another station on the Airport line between central and green square to service Waterloo? The gap between Central and Green Sqaure is matter for an area so close to the city and becoming so populated.

  4. Nick says:

    Meant to say massive not matter.

  5. Simon says:

    I don’t believe this line will ever be built, so it’s a bit academic.

  6. MrV says:

    @Nick
    They could but then the issue will be how full those trains will be given all the apartment construction along the line. Although capacity can be increased from 12 to 20tph at some point.
    The obvious problem with another station is that given where the line physically is a new station would be quite close to redfern whereas if you were designing from scratch you would probably want it further east.

  7. JC says:

    There’s lots of track capacity and the density to deliver demand on the Sydenham-Central line (even space for a new station near Marrickville Metro); as others have said there’s scope for a new station on the Airport line; Sydney U could be linked in to the LR network with only 1.5 km of track down Broadway (which has room – the clue is in the name) and extend as far out Parramatta Rd as they dare. So of course they will spend $billions on a new line. It’s how we do transport infrastructure in NSW.

  8. QPP says:

    This isn’t a “new line” specifically for the two places mentioned though, is it? It is part of the next big project, the Second Harbour Crossing (Sydney Rapid Transit Phase 2 if you prefer)

    There is a team working on this now to develop the concept design, which is exactly why the possibility of these stations is being kicked about at this stage.

    The funding for this project is even known, provided the LNP win the 2015 election; they will part privatise the electricity distribution network to pay for it

    It’s likely rather than feasible that if that election is won by the LNP, by the time the next election rolls round in 2019 the project will be committed with contracts locked in, and construction started, just as the SRT Phase 1 is locked in now, in advance of the 2015 election.

    So I don’t really understand Simon’s comment. If the LNP get in again next year, I believe this project is extremely likely to happen. Maybe 80%+ probability. If they don’t get in, then that drops dramatically but it might still happen when any successor government looks at the issue

  9. Bambul – thank you for keeping me updated each week on changes/updates to the Sydney Train Network! It will be interesting to see how these changes will impact train etiquette. Will increasing the number of train lines help to ease congestion and improve commuter satisfaction? Please have a look at my campaign – The Commuter Syd. This campaign is aimed at tackling antisocial behaviour on the Sydney Train Network! Think those that refuse to make room for fellow commuters, or those who talk incredibly loud on their mobile phones! Help me to improve the behaviour on our train network! – Meagan

  10. Simon says:

    QPP, even if the second harbour crossing happens, it is far from assured that either tunnel to Sydenham will happen or indeed any connection to the Bankstown line.

  11. QPP says:

    The point is, they are trying to work out the scope/route of the SHC project at the moment, hence this debate

    They haven’t released anything about where the tunnels would daylight at the south end of the CBD as far as I am aware. So it’s not so much a question of a “connection” from the SHC project to the Bankstown line, it’s what the southern end of the SHC project actually looks like

  12. Ray says:

    I agree QPP. It appears that nothing is yet set in stone including any connection to the Bankstown Line. One thing is certain though, if a second harbour crossing does proceed, then it is likely to be an extension of the NWRL rapid transit. The dilemma then is, how is it extended on the southern side of the harbour?

    As I mentioned previously, if the Bankstown Line conversion proposal proceeds, then it would be logical to connect the new cross harbour/CBD rail link with the unused surface track corridor between Erskineville and Sydenham with the tunnels surfacing at Eveleigh. This isolates the Bankstown Line from the Illawarra Local and provides intermediate stations at Erskineville and St Peters. It is unlikely that Sydney Trains would require this potential infrastructure corridor if the rapid transit concept proceeds. It does however, cut off any future option to extend the rapid transit to Hurstville (not that I’m in favour of it).

    The other alternative is to connect the new cross harbour/CBD link with an independent rapid transit system such as the West Metro to Parramatta via Barangaroo, which is my preferred option.

  13. Excuse me for being cynical but I think we’re in election mode re this project. We’re likely to see all sorts of promises hinted at, or made explicitly, but they’re not worth much. Whatever “options” TfNSW comes up with, they won’t be put to cabinet until after the next election, and what will influence the selection will probably depend on where the marginal seats fall in March 2015.

    @simon, if the Hills become the perceived electoral battle ground for 2019, then I think they’ll probably look at building the second crossing ASAP, and as cheaply as possible and screw everyone else (a bit like the current NWRL project). But if it’s more in the west then the impact on the legacy network will suddenly have a bearing on things.

    NSW Power privatisation – as has been the case for the past 20 years – is the key to it. How they seriously expect to get that through the upper house is anyone’s guess. I can’t see the gvt making a credible promise to fund the second crossing given it’s likely price tag.

    I’m still tipping: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8521/8618356818_4a9049d892_z.jpg as the likely eventual outcome. So the when the T-Sets come up for replacement it’ll be with automated “rapid transit” trains.

  14. QPP says:

    They have to make it (the SHC) happen pretty quickly or Chatswood station will get overloaded…..

  15. > They have to make it (the SHC) happen pretty quickly or Chatswood station will get overloaded…..

    Or … as I’ve suggested … convert the inner parts of Sector 3 to Rapid Transit. Probably at about the time the T-sets are due for replacement (ie 2025-2030)

  16. Ray says:

    >Or … as I’ve suggested … convert the inner parts of Sector 3 to Rapid Transit.<

    Sorry TTR, but the option of converting Sector 3 (now T1) to Rapid Transit has already been discarded, amongst other reasons, because of the inability of the existing CBD stations, particularly Town Hall and Wynyard, to cope with the alleged increase in passenger turnover arising from the increased frequency of Rapid Transit trains. Converting the Suburban tracks west of Central to Rapid Transit would also have its challenges. It's just not feasible. That's why they adopted Plan B to take over the second harbour crossing and new CBD rail link. So if Plan B doesn't eventuate, then we're back to square one. The most logical solution then is to leave the NWRL Rapid Transit as an isolated shuttle service from Rouse Hill to Chatswood and possibly extend it to St Leonards to terminate at the existing unused platforms and to also resurrect the Western Express proposal. With your background knowledge, I thought you would have been aware of this.

  17. > Sorry TTR, but the option of converting Sector 3 (now T1) to Rapid Transit has already been
    > discarded, amongst other reasons, because of the inability of the existing CBD stations, particularly
    > Town Hall and Wynyard, to cope with the alleged increase in passenger turnover arising from the
    > increased frequency of Rapid Transit trains. Converting the Suburban tracks west of Central to
    > Rapid Transit would also have its challenges. It’s just not feasible.

    My understanding is the original concept was ditched because it was unfeasable to build flyovers connecting RT from the North Shore, and the disruption of shutting down teh City Cirle for 2 years.

    The concept I’ve suggested – and I stress I don’t approve – avoids all that with the only conversion required being the installation of platform screens.

    The platforms at Town Hall, and to a lesser extent Wynyard, are so narrow the introduction of screens will make a big difference to their capacity and throughput. As this is the current system’s limiting factor now, it means the NWRL format will significantly boost capacity (I think in the order of 15-20%) on the current sector 3.

    And it solves the problem created by the two incompatible format interchanging inefficiently at Chatswood.

    @Ray, I’m with you on your plan C, though perhaps there is some merrit in running the NWRL all the way to Nth Sydney (other than this would close off the options of a NWRL format second crossing).

    My view is the best thing to do is re-bore the NWRL tunnels. It might cost $2bil, but it’ll save 5 times that down the track no matter how we end up dealing with the resulting problems.

  18. Simon says:

    100% agree with Ray’s post of 9:25pm

  19. QPP says:

    >>My view is the best thing to do is re-bore the NWRL tunnels. It might cost $2bil, but it’ll save 5 times that down the track no matter how we end up dealing with the resulting problems.<<

    Your cost-benefit analysis is completely out of whack

    You need to accept the SRT concept as a reality and move on from what you think it should have been, no matter how bitter the taste

    It would cost way, way more than that and for what benefit? To replace a 15tph service with 4tph? But at least you'd be back to one system….

  20. Ray says:

    @ttr99 – Just to fill you in, here is an extract from the draft report from the Transport Projects Division (Project Development Services) dated May 2012:-

    “The objective of this current report is to is to identify the costs, risks and operational impacts relating to the infrastructure requirements of two rail passenger service types available through the following options:

    – Suburban Services, using double deck rolling stock and standardised operating patterns with high
    seating to standing ratios, essentially similar to today (Rail Future A); and

    – Differentiated Services with double deck rolling stock (as per Suburban Services above) and
    single deck rolling stock for shorter journeys with higher frequencies, and lower seating to
    standing ratios (Rail Futures B & C).

    Rail Futures B & C, while both being differentiated services have different operating approaches.

    Rail Future B seeks to run single deck rolling stock at increased frequencies to current operations (up to 28 trains per hour) on existing upgraded infrastructure.

    Rail Future C pursues the operation of single deck rolling stock operating through a new Harbour Crossing and connecting to the existing Epping to Chatswood Rail Link and North West Rail Link.

    The findings of the investigations to date indicate that Rail Future B has an extremely high degree of risk, operational impact and costs for the following reasons:

    – The high risks relate to the operation of 28 trains per hour on existing infrastructure, particularly
    within the current CBD alignment, with costly and disruptive upgrades required of the existing
    stations to facilitate the subsequent increase in passenger loadings;

    – To robustly deal with the increased train paths through the CBD, significant reconfiguration of the
    Central Flyovers is required. To facilitate their construction, extensive shut downs and
    reconfiguration of the network in its most congested area is required as enabling works, including
    a new CBD Extension Line.

    As the cost of infrastructure for Rail Future B exceeds that of Rail Futures A & C, but realises less than half the capacity increase (across the Harbour), takes longer to build and carries with it greater delivery risk. It is therefore recommended that Rail Future B not be developed further.”

    Now this report was obviously prepared when it was envisaged that double deck and single deck rolling stock would be compatible and operate on an integrated network. However, the same differentiating principles still apply when comparing upgrading of the existing CBD network with a new Cross Harbour link, whether it be integrated with the existing network or converted to Rapid Transit.

    It still remains to be seen whether the Liberal Government, assuming it is re-elected, can get its legislation passed in the new Parliament to sell the poles and wires, which by its own admission is a prerequisite to funding the new Cross Harbour Link. Failing that, they’ve got nowhere to go and will have to start looking at Plan C or D (not to be confused with Rail Futures Plans above).

  21. JC says:

    Hmmm. So the people who gave us the over-priced schlerotic network that we live with daily think that doing something new and duifferent would be too scary.

    I agree that it would be risky but of the 3 options, B is the only one that delivers real change and benefits.

    (but what we really need is a C+: RT conversion for lots of the inner network plus some new RT/LRT lines to really improve mobility and connectivity in the city to break the gridlock)

  22. QPP says:

    >>Now this report was obviously prepared when it was envisaged that double deck and single deck rolling stock would be compatible and operate on an integrated network.<>It still remains to be seen whether the Liberal Government, assuming it is re-elected, can get its legislation passed in the new Parliament to sell the poles and wires, which by its own admission is a prerequisite to funding the new Cross Harbour Link.<<

    Absolutely, this is the critical issue for the medium term direction of the network

  23. QPP says:

    Sorry – something went wrong there. Will split into two posts

    >>Now this report was obviously prepared when it was envisaged that double deck and single deck rolling stock would be compatible and operate on an integrated network. <<

    I don't think so. They already knew at the time what they wanted to do. Too much is made of "integration" in my view

    The biggest issue for me with the existing network isn't its reliability or level of service (for it really isn't that bad), but the level of taxpayer subsidy required for it. A key test of the success or failure of SRT must be what the comparable level of subsidy/availability fee will be per passenger km

  24. QPP says:

    >>I agree that it would be risky but of the 3 options, B is the only one that delivers real change and benefits.<<

    Why do you say this? It doesn't seem to make much sense to me. It involves very high cost but doesn't deal with the bottleneck through the CBD and across the harbour

    Isn't SRT real change? Or at least, in its developed configuration with a second line through the CBD?

  25. Ray says:

    @QPP: There clearly was an intent to have compatibility between single and double deck rolling stock on an integrated network in the initial planning as evidenced by this further extract from the same report under the heading ‘Single Deck Operational Issues’ –

    “Single deck must be capable of operating with double deck rolling stock because they will need to be running to Bankstown, Hurstville prior to opening the new Harbour Link. Operating with freight trains will be an ongoing issue for trains operating to Hurstville”.

    This morphed into the separate Rapid Transit concept later.

    It is also interesting to note that the Rail Futures B plan included the WEX. This was costed as at June 2012 at $10 to $12.5b against $10b for Rail Futures C (new harbor crossing). A telling statistic is that Rail Futures B would provide a total of 28 tph (20 + 8) with the existing Harbour Bridge Crossing (although it excluded extra capacity for the WEX) and Rail Futures C would provide a total of up to 50 tph (20 + 30) with the addition of a second Harbour Crossing. It’s no wonder they went for the latter. Whether they could fund either option remains to be seen.

  26. I find it odd that Opal would say yes towards a transition into giving way to the use of a debit/credit card for travel. The whole marketing scheme of the Opal card was the money you can save after making 8 journeys a week. How would this be possible if a commuter is using their bank cards to pay? There is already the ability for automatic topups through linking your bank account to the Opal, so I really don’t understand what the objective of CBA is.

  27. @Joy –

    It’s of great benefit to occasional users and tourists from out of town. It means paper tickets can be completely phased out easily too.

  28. Simon says:

    Joy, the idea would be/is that such cards connect to the server in real time rather than the update later scheme which applies for Opal. Perhaps there will be a small fare penalty to discourage the use of such cards.

  29. I think it would be beneficial if Sydney Trains were to first look at updating the number of services it offers in peak periods and improving the current state of the train network. Congestion is a cause of antisocial behaviour on our trains – people get miserable, frustrated and selfish. Let’s make the daily commute a happier place by offering increased services to ease congestion and improving the timely arrival of trains to reduce the daily rush to work. First look at delivering a service that is satisfying to the commuters who use it, before trying to expand it. Check out http://thecommutersyd.wordpress.com for more ideas on how to reduce antisocial behaviour on trains!

  30. I think it would be beneficial if Sydney Trains were to first look at updating the number of services it offers in peak periods and improving the current state of the train network. Congestion is a cause of antisocial behaviour on our trains – people get miserable, frustrated and selfish. Let’s make the daily commute a happier place by offering increased services to ease congestion and improving the timely arrival of trains to reduce the daily rush to work. First look at delivering a service that is satisfying to the commuters who use it, before trying to expand it. Check out http://thecommutersyd.wordpress.com for more ideas on how to reduce antisocial behaviour on trains! – Meagan O’H, @TheCommuterSyd

  31. QPP says:

    There isn’t (on most lines) the capacity to increase the number of services in peak hour – that’s the problem

    The network in peak already operates at maximum capacity, and in some cases beyond capacity since they struggle to meet the timetable

    If TfNSW had the option of running more services without spending $lots more on infrastructure, they would take it

  32. Simon says:

    That’s true for via Strathfield but via Sydenham is really limited by rolling stock; the shortage of which is exacerbated by the slow timetable.

  33. JC says:

    “Isn’t SRT real change? Or at least, in its developed configuration with a second line through the CBD?”

    No. It delivers unnecessary metro-standard service to the outer suburbs – and ignores the densest bit of the city where this sort of service could make a real difference to people’s lives and actually lever people (voluntarily) out of their cars. [possible exception being Bankstown line benefits]

  34. JC says:

    “I find it odd that Opal would say yes towards a transition into giving way to the use of a debit/credit card for travel.”

    In London you now get the same discounts and daily caps on contact credit/debit cards as you do with the official TFL-issues travel card (oyster).

  35. MrV says:

    The advantage for CBA is of course the data it would generate, they now have your travel habits and spending habits together as a data set. Arguably they can probably do some of that already via petrol purchases etc, but not as specific as geolocation to train stations etc.

  36. @Ray – sorry for the slow response. I’m sure I’ve read the report you quoted, and I’ve probably got a copy on my HD somewhere, and I wanted to have another look before responding, but never got to it, sorry.

    IIRC, Option B also required the City Circle and SHB lines be shut down for extended periods – as in 2 -3 years each – for the conversion process – which must have involved building a complicated array of flyovers in a location “yet to be determined” (ie, they had no idea where to do it). I think this was intended as the killer political blow. No NSW government is going to do that!

    The numbers you quoted/they used for capacity were clearly all wrong. The WEX would deliver the equivalent of 30 slots (assuming 12 car DD suburban trains @20tph). The second crossing in HR would deliver 20/24 slots to the north and south, so either 40 or 48 in total but effectively only 20/24 to the constrained southern side.

    Sandy Thomas suggested the change in policy came about after the (leaked) Douglas Report showed the Dick Day (ie SD trains across the bridge) wasn’t going to deliver any new capacity. It should be pointed out that an assumption they were forced to make was there would be no station upgrades by the switch to SD.

    It is my view that the main issue is the platforms at Town Hall and Central are just too small, and that platform screens will deliver and extra 1m of usable platform space – quite a lot on platforms less than 4m wide.

    The “option” I think we’re bumbling towards is to convert much of Sector 3 to RT, but no new flyovers and no new crossing. This limits the conversion work to signalling and installing platform screens, and the latter doesn’t necessarily have to be done right away, or in one big bang. This fixes the problem created by the Chatswood interchange, and also adds (a bit, not much) of capacity where it is most needed, but the downside is the least suitable route (main west) is the one that ends up being switch to the lateral lift format.

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