This week in transport (25 January 2015)

Posted: January 26, 2015 in Transport
Tags: , , ,

VIDEO: #Equality – A short film by Neel Kolhatkar

Monday: Future of the Meccano Set uncertain

The structure holding up traffic lights and signs at the intersection of Woodville Road/Henry Lawson Drive and Hume Highway in Lansdowne, commonly known as the “Meccano Set”, could be removed. RMS is taking community and stakeholder feedback, with two possible options for the intersection:

  • repaint and maintain the structure, or
  • remove it completely and replace it with traffic signals and directional signage.

The Meccano Set was errected in 1962 and is not heritage listed, though it is considered a “place of interest” and a Western Sydney icon. Feedback will be accepted until 13 February.

Tuesday: Commuters can save by leaving car at home

Commuters could save $10,000 per year by switching from driving to taking public transport according to a report by the Australian Railway Association. The savings are contingent on not owning a car at all. Smaller savings of $1,700 per year would be possible by maintaining a car, but taking public transport to and from work rather than driving. Alan Davies at Crikey writes more on this topic.

Tuesday: SWRL appears on rail map

The South West Rail Link has appeared on the network map for Sydney Trains, while the timetable for the line has also been released. Trains will run every half hour between Leppington and Liverpool when the line opens on 8 February.

Sydney Trains network with the SWRL on the bottom left of the map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Sydney Trains network with the SWRL on the bottom left of the map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Tuesday: 524 new parking spots at train stations

Over 500 new parking spots at train stations were announced or opened this week. 400 parking spaces will be added at Holsworthy Station and 100 parking spaces will be added at Oatley Station. Meanwhile, 23 additional parking spaces were officially opened at Granville Station.

Wednesday: NWRL running ahead of schedule and under budget

The North West Rail Link is running 2 months ahead of schedule and is currently $300m under budget. The news comes as Elizabeth, the first of the 4 tunnel boring machines, reaches the future site of Norwest Station. Elizabeth began digging from Bella Vista, 2.1km away, in September of 2014.

Sunday: New ticket gates may be on the way

New, skinnier ticket barriers have been spotted at Olympic Park Station, suggesting that the current ticket barriers might be replaced soon. The barriers are currently covered up, but are clearly a more streamlined size and shape. Entry/Exit indicators have also been removed from Town Hall Station, which would also support the possibility that ticket barriers are soon to be updated.

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Comments
  1. michblogs says:

    “Commuters could save $10,000 per year by switching from driving to taking public transport according to a report by the Australian Railway Association. The savings are contingent on not owning a car at all.”

    This is one of the dumbest reports I have ever seen. I believe this is what intellectuals call “homo economicus”, a person who goes to work but has no social life, friends, or other interests or activities and apparently doesn’t need to go shopping, or anywhere else. And they live in Engadine ! Hardly a plausible location for a hipster without a car.

    And I say this as a person who doesn’t have a car.

  2. Mushalik says:

    I have analysed the closure of the ECRL tunnel on my website

    4/1/2015
    Sydney mismanages transition to driver-less single deck trains (part 2)
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/sydney-mismanages-transition-to-driver-less-single-deck-trains-part-2

    30/12/2014
    Sydney plans to dismantle rail infrastructure built just 6 years ago (part 1)
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/sydney-plans-to-dismantle-rail-infrastructure-built-just-6-years-ago-part-1

  3. QPP says:

    @Mushalik, setting aside your usual peak oil blinkers (the issue is of very little relevance to the mode selection for the NWRL), some of your arguments actually work in *favour* of the government’s plans.

    Particularly the one about the slowness of the adoption of ATP on the Sydney Trains network, despite the recommendations of the Waterfall enquiry. Given that fact, is it not better to build your new railway and take it straight to UTO, rather than build it as part of the existing network where you won’t even be able to operate with simple ATP yet?

    By the way, none of that is MTR’s decision – it is the NSW government’s. They made the call to build the NWRL as a separate network and wrote the procurement documents accordingly.

  4. gseeney says:

    Not to mention the fact that the government retains ownership of all ECRL fixed assets and also takes ownership of all NWRL fixed and moving assets as part of the contract. The concession lasts 15 years after which time it will be open tender for a new operator, or if the government of the time was so inclined they could hand it over to Sydney Trains (or a new government entity) to operate (with it’s dedicated rolling stock and control systems of course.)

  5. Rails says:

    Well we now have it confirmed that the NSW Labor party are committed to both the NWRL to Chatswood and the Westconnex but not the Second Harbour Rail Crossing or the extra connection of the Westconnex. No surprise since they are opposed to the lease of 50% of the poles and wires so no cash. They will apparently go to the election with an alternative to the crossing since Luke Foley has stated “I am not convinced another connection from the north is a priority for the city,”. They will announce their alternative around the time of the election campaign but my guess is the WEX/ CBD Relief project will be their choice with NWRL passengers changing at Epping for 10-12 tph Northern line CBD bound trains to the North Shore via the suburbans with 12 car trains running on the mains to Wynyard to service the Western line.

  6. QPP says:

    >>Not to mention the fact that the government retains ownership of all ECRL fixed assets and also takes ownership of all NWRL fixed and moving assets as part of the contract. The concession lasts 15 years after which time it will be open tender for a new operator<<

    Yes, this is a fact conveniently ignored by many when they think to say the ECRL is being "gifted to foreigners" makes their argument stronger. One of the many lies being told by the Greens on this and other transport matters. And these clowns put themselves about as the only party practicing "honest politics"???

  7. Simon says:

    Do you have a link Rails? While I can see Luke Foley promising no 2HC here: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/luke-foley-derails-second-harbour-rail-tunnel/story-fni0cx12-1227198873159?nk=a096044b592193886f0863c9e8f00ba4

    I cannot see where he promised not to build Westconnex.

    Also don’t know where he committed to the NWRL. That’s a bit redundant isn’t it? It’s happening now.

  8. Mushalik says:

    To QPP: The Epping Chatswood tunnel is NOT a new rail line. My point is that it is a waste of taxpayer’s money to remove signalling and other equipment which is comparatively new. In relation to peak oil, read my interview with Crikey http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/01/13/catch-22-the-paradox-of-peak-oil-in-a-volatile-market/ and of course it is relevant for the NWRL,in many respects.

    The longer oil prices are low the deeper the next oil & financial crisis will be because oil production growth will first stop and possibly even go into decline. The Bank of Canada has calculated that at US$ 60 one third of global oil production would be uneconomic. We may look at peak affordable oil right now. If that crisis were to hit in 2018 when the ECRL is closed I would not like to be the Transport Minister. Imagine only 10% of M2 motorists were forced to take public transport at that time.

    And here we are at the crux of the matter. Imagine I gave you 9 billion dollars with the objective to design a rail project (or a series of rail projects) which would maximise the number of existing motorists now on the road who would switch to go by train. You would also have to maximise the number of local jobs created (construction, rolling stock). Would it be an expensive 20 km long tunnel using imported boring equipment and then running imported driver-less trains? Look how they want to fill the NWRL trains:

    Castle Hill precinct plan
    http://t.co/IDYlT7NuJ6
    Up to 20 storey apartments for immigrants yet to arrive

    There are only 4,000 car parks around the few stations. That would fill just 4 trains. The NWRL will NOT solve car traffic problems in low density areas.

  9. gseeney says:

    I just can’t believe that I am reading a peak oil alarmist arguing against a project that will dramatically increase public transport options to an entire region of Sydney just because it is not exactly THEIR idea of what the project will be. Blow my mind.

    If we are worried about peak oil hitting specifically during the closing of the ECRL, we will have much much bigger problems to worry about in Sydney that the temporary lack of train service at 3 stations.

  10. Mushalik says:

    To gseeny:
    Peak oil (or more precise the peaking as a complex process since 2005) has already hit in many ways. Just take our budget situation which is one reason why the NSW government is forced into questionable PPPs, now also for rail projects. Look at the number crunching for the Federal budget (which has of course also implications for the State finances):

    28/5/2014
    Australian budget hit by global financial crisis and high oil prices (part 1)
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/australian-budget-hit-by-gfc-and-high-oil-prices-part-1

    If you call such analysis alarmist then when will you wake up?

    You have not answered the question how you would design cost efficient (i.e length maximising) rail projects which would get motorists out of their cars in the whole of Sydney, not just in a certain area.

    Indeed, we’ll have much bigger problems, food supply, for example, but this is not the topic here.

    Staying with transport issues: how quickly problems can pop up as our refineries are closing down:

    Melbourne Airport hit by fuel shortage
    http://australianaviation.com.au/2015/01/melbourne-airport-hit-by-fuel-shortage/

    One reason:

    23/2/2014
    Geelong refinery sold as Shell’s oil production continues to decline
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/geelong-refinery-sold-as-shells-oil-production-continues-to-decline

    Ah yes, alarmist.

  11. Tom says:

    Haha.
    Mushalik isn’t even credible when one of his titles is “Sydney plans to DISMANTLES rail infrastructure built just 6 years ago (part 1)” which is just plain idiotic and shows he knows zilch.

    Dismantling implies that said infrastructure will be permanently closed down never to be reopened and all equipment and structures removed. Which it blatantly isn’t.

    Never mind that incorporating the ECRL into the NWRL will actually make better use of an expensive piece of infrastructure that only sees pathetic frequency of trains at the moment and no way of increasing it.

  12. QPP says:

    Mushalik, it’s a much bigger waste of taxpayer’s money to change at this stage and not convert ECRL: To do this would delay the start of the NWRL by years and cost billions (because you would have to reconfigure where the new line stops, and renegotiate/rework the PPP contract to suit)

    These decisions were made back in 2012, move on

    Tom also makes a good point that the expensive ECRL will get much better utilisation when it’s got the ability to have 15-30 tph using it

  13. Mushalik says:

    To Bamboul

    In my post on dismantling rail infrastructure I have referred to the September 2014 Review list of pieces of ECRL infrastructure which will be removed like trackwork, overhead wires and signalling equipment which will in effect close down the tunnel for double decker use. This substantially reduces operational flexibilty for Sydney’s North and will one day be bitterly regretted. There are technical solutions where single deckers and double deckers can run in the same tunnel. There would need to be single decker drivers on the ECRL section and on the new section Rouse Hill – Epping they can run the same trains in driverless mode. That would be a compromise solution to rescue double decker functionality of the ECRL

  14. Simon says:

    I don’t see why you’d need single decker drivers to run a mixed use tunnel. They don’t need them overseas.

  15. Mushalik says:

    Bambul,
    No, the conversion of the ECRL costs at least $200 million – by memory. For that money you could build 5-10 kms of light rail on arterial roads. If you have found the exact figure, let us know. The details of what is being removed in the ECRL tunnel were only published in the Sept/Oct 2014 Review.

    The contractual arrangements of the NSW governments are not public. I assume that they are in favor of the operator. Wait until you have to pay a surcharge like on the Airport link. The Review documentation mentions ticket machines on the Chatswood platforms.

    30 tph? That would be 30 k passengers per hour in one direction, around 1/4 of the total daily M2 traffic in both directions! Show me how these trains are going to be filled to make the NWRL commercial.

  16. Mushalik says:

    Bambul,

    Re: single deck drivers in ECRL section. Using the existing signalling in this tunnel which is not suitable for driver-less trains

  17. gseeney says:

    It doesn’t need to be commercial. It is a government owned public transport line integrated into the wider network and fare system, with the only difference being that the operations have been contracted out.

    The contracts are in fact public – in a redacted form.

    http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/project-toolkit/register-of-contracts-awarded

  18. Tom says:

    You clearly have no idea how the whole thing is working.

    The government will be paying a certain amount monthly (I think it is monthly) depending on the performance of the contractor. This amount varies according to whether the contractor meets targets such as on time performance, reliability and so on. Unlike the Airport Line, the contractor has no right or involvement in charging the passengers for using the stations or the trains – people would simply be using the same fare card and structure as the rest of the network.

    Are you deliberately trying to confuse people around the NWRL? There’s no way you could be this ignorant (stupid might be the better word) after repeatedly being shown that you have got it wrong….

  19. QPP says:

    >>
    No, the conversion of the ECRL costs at least $200 million – by memory. For that money you could build 5-10 kms of light rail on arterial roads. If you have found the exact figure, let us know. The details of what is being removed in the ECRL tunnel were only published in the Sept/Oct 2014 Review.

    The contractual arrangements of the NSW governments are not public. I assume that they are in favor of the operator. Wait until you have to pay a surcharge like on the Airport link. The Review documentation mentions ticket machines on the Chatswood platforms.

    30 tph? That would be 30 k passengers per hour in one direction, around 1/4 of the total daily M2 traffic in both directions! Show me how these trains are going to be filled to make the NWRL commercial.<<

    You are talking as if the conversion of the ECRL is an extra piece of work that is now proposed to extend the NWRL rather than an integral part of the line. In other words, you think it would cost more now to convert the ECRL, whereas if NWRL trains are stopped at Epping it costs nothing

    This is a complete misunderstanding of the situation

    The configuration of the NWRL was set in 2012, to run driverless trains as shuttles from Cudgegong Rd to Chatswood and return.

    Since then the government has let 3 major contracts to deliver on that plan – the two civil works contracts (tunnels and viaduct) and the Fit Out & Operations PPP, to build stations, rail infrastructure and run services for 15 years.

    As Tom says, that PPP has been priced by the consortium that is now contracted to deliver it (Northwest Rapid Transit) on the basis of that configuration. The consortium developed proposals for the trains to be used, journey times, control system and therefore headways and therefore capacity of the link in an initial state (15 tph at peak) and ultimate (30 tph). All of that, plus the capex of the infrastructure, got rolled into the deal whereby the government pays on a monthly fee basis for an agreed set of performance standards and service frequencies. In other words, it's all locked in.

    You cannot at this stage take the ECRL out of the equation. Let's look at what this would mean:
    a) Terminate trains at Epping. You'd either have to build new underground platforms – and therefore design and construct them from scratch – or a crossover cavern south of the station and operate P5 and P6 at Epping in "mixed mode". The latter option would require extensive re-engineering of the control systems of both networks, because they are now using the same tracks (there are big safety and accreditation issues with this) and impact capacity of both networks quite severely because of trains turning back obstructing paths

    b) Run ECRL in "mixed mode". Again to do this would require extensive re-engineering and accreditation of the control systems, plus it would mean doing without platform screen doors. This isn't a major drama, but it would impact dwell times and therefore headways and therefore capacity of the NWRL trains. You would also, again, impact quite severely the capacity of both networks

    Whichever option you take, you have to renegotiate the PPP – from a position of weakness – or tear it up. Which means a massive spend for no benefit. At least $1bn by this stage.

    Either of these options would delay services on the NWRL by years (perhaps 2-4?) and increase costs by billions (perhaps $1b-$3b)

    What would the benefit be? People from 5 stations north of Epping get to keep their single seat journey, and it makes some people happy from an ideology point of view. Sound like good value?

    That is why it just isn't going to happen. The REF for the ECRL conversion isn't seeking your permission for the conversion – it is seeking consultation on the works that are proposed to enable it (like peoples views on the bussing routes).

    Whatever your views on the whole NWRL shebang, it is completely locked in. No political party in Australia is stupid enough to change track, whatever happens in the election. This is why the only party suggesting otherwise is the Greens, they can take this sort of oppositionist stance because they know they are never going to have to deliver on it, but they think they can make some political capital in the meantime (honest politics eh? Hypocrites).

    Forget the East-West Link (even though Andrews's rash promise is now coming back to bite him when it comes to compensation). This is not the same situation at all, because the project as a whole is now 3 years in to the design & construction phase and to change track is a mammoth exercise and would involve an incredible waste of money. From an ALP point of view, I'm sure it is once bitten, twice (let's hope six) times shy, when it comes to wasting vast sums on vacillating on transport projects

    It's a done deal. You don't have to like it, but you do have to face reality

  20. Simon says:

    How do you get the $1bn cost that you suggest?

  21. QPP says:

    Educated guess. You’d have to renegotiate from scratch. The contract value is just under $4bn, dropping 25% of that is pretty conservative given the time extension that would be required and the amount of rework that would already have to be done in terms of design and placed orders

    The OTS contractor and its supply chain (including design consultants) is burning somewhere north of $5m a week at the moment just on staff costs. 2 year delay at that rate = $500m. Now add on the additional financing costs (revenue stream won’t start flowing until later, this will have a very large impact), rework/abortive costs for stuff that’s ordered but won’t be needed, penalty clauses, the fact that govt would be negotiating from a very weak position, etc etc…..

    Or you could just tear the whole thing up and start from scratch. I don’t know what the termination penalty would be but for this size scheme, at this stage it’s got to be over $1bn again. Then add on costs to re-procure, etc etc etc……

    I’m not puffing this stuff up unrealistically. The public generally has no concept what project cancellation or radical change/delay costs, even though given debacles like CBD Metro, they ought to. That cost the government hundreds of millions and they hadn’t even signed a contract

  22. Mushalik says:

    To QPP

    I did not propose ending Rouse Hill trains at Epping. I know that Epping is not designed for that although I warned them in a public meeting for the station EIS that their design for a major interchange (at that time the focus was on the PERL) was flawed but they did not want to listen. In the 70s I worked on some technical aspects of the metro tunnels in Frankfurt and know how transitional designs should look like. The ECRL mixed mode would only require that the single deck trains can use the existing signalling equipment in the ECRL – and drivers for that section. I have no idea whether the train cars have already been ordered. Why would that take longer? They lose almost 1 year for the tunnel conversion.

    The original contracts did not try to rescue double decker functionality and flexibility of the ECRL which would have been the cheapest solution (no conversion cost). Insofar these contracts are inflexible, a problem they have created for themselves. In fact, everything is done to stop double deckers to please the operator. The ultimate goal is complete privatization, everyone knows that, not cost minimisation. So if there is ideology involved, it is on the side of the government, not the Greens.

    The government will have to pay high hidden subsidies for the NWRL as the consortium wants to make profits and patronage is uncertain. Has anyone seen the operational cash flow for this project, assuming different scenarios? I wonder what will happen when the NSW budget gets into trouble.

    The capacity bottleneck is not any mixed ECRL use but it’s on the Chatswood platforms where the trains end and then further down the North Shore line. If anything, a 2nd Harbour rail crossing should have been built first. Now they have a branch line hanging on a thin thread. Too many experiments at the same time.

    In Frankfurt they will close the main CBD rail tunnel for 1 month (not 7 months!) during the holiday season this year to replace tracks and upgrade signalling for 30 tph, something Munich has done several years ago. But there are many rail stations on the periphery of the city where they can turn trains. Moreover there are 7 metro lines through the CBD which are not there in the case of the ECRL. That there was no public outcry here in Sydney on this long tunnel closure alone shows that most people don’t care – they go by car anyway. Moreover, the government strategy is: sign contracts first and do public “consultation” later – which is actually only information. People I talked to in the train have resigned.

  23. Mushalik says:

    To Babul

    see my comments to QPP re hidden subsidies

  24. Ray says:

    Hypothetically speaking and putting contractual issues aside, it would still be physically possible to construct tunnels from the Epping Services Facility to new underground platforms on the western side of Beecroft Road as proposed with the original North West Metro. Although there are currently two road headers driving tunnels to connect with the ECRL stubs, they could always be pulled out and sent in a different direction. I know it’s unlikely to happen, but nonetheless the option is there.

  25. Mushalik says:

    It’s good you are mentioning the road headers. A link is here:
    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/news/giant-road-header-sharlea-gets-to-work-digging-the-epping-to-the-north-west-rail-link-tunnel/story-fngr8gwi-1227110634129

    The diameter of this connecting tunnel is probably also too small for double deckers. This means that if ever a rail tunnel Epping – Parramtta were built (with new stubs North West of the Beecroft service facility) that would be another bottle-neck although I don’t think it will ever happen. The original idea was to divert Western trains from Parramatta via Epping to Chatswood to relieve the Strathfield – Redfern section. The planning is in a total mess.

    Yes, light rail between Epping and Parramatta is a good idea in principle but can anyone tell me how that would work on the narrow 2×2 lane Carlingford road? Today I was stuck in the Metrobus M54 for 1/2 hr when approaching Epping station between Midson and Beecroft Rd. A lady told me it took 40 min from Parramatta to where we were stuck – wonderful. And then they want to build 3,000 flats around Epping station. Sheer madness.

  26. Tom says:

    Mushalik

    No one particularly cares whether you think dual operation of the ECRL or train drivers are important. The Liberals have taken once in a life time opportunity to revolutionise Sydney transport starting with the NWRL.
    I think the concept of the SRT stretching from Rouse Hill to City to Bankstown and other destinations if they expand it is exciting and fantastic. A cheaper way of operating trains with less staff, off the shelf trains and minimal operating conflicts will mean a far reduced (or even nil!!!) subsidy and therefore make trains much more pleasant for government coffers to cough up money for future PT.

    The NWRL will be fast. It will be frequent. It will be punctual and on time. It will be safe with state of the art tech and things like physical barriers between platform and track. There won’t be any strikes that can affect it. There won’t be enormously expensive (some claim overpaid) staff to pay for.

    It would be none of those things if it had been integrated into the current system.
    Frequency: You would still have to push the Upper Northern Line back into going via Strathfield just to provide the bare minimum frequency to Rouse Hill – you cannot have any more trains going across the Harbour Bridge, and why should North Shore Line get reduced frequencies because Upper Northern Line users are too lazy to change.
    Punctuality: Well. Look at the current Sydney Trains system…
    Safety: Again – look at the current system – drivers haven’t been able to prevent several deadly crashes, have they? (And were in fact the cause of some of them…)

    Given these advantages, and the huge, huge benefits in expanding across the harbour to take over one or more train lines (thus freeing up capacity through the city circle for more frequent double decker services on others) – who the hell wouldn’t ditch the double decker and bother to try incorporate it?

  27. QPP says:

    >> The ultimate goal is complete privatization, everyone knows that, not cost minimisation. So if there is ideology involved, it is on the side of the government, not the Greens.

    The government will have to pay high hidden subsidies for the NWRL as the consortium wants to make profits and patronage is uncertain. Has anyone seen the operational cash flow for this project, assuming different scenarios? I wonder what will happen when the NSW budget gets into trouble.<<

    There is ideology on both sides. Yes, I have no doubt part of the reasoning for the plan was ideological – to create a separate network free of unions and Railcorp operating practices.

    But the Greens are just as ideological, in their objection to any private enterprise in transport operations. Why are they so insistent on this, even to the point of demanding the change of the plans at this stage, a change that would waste billions and reduce service? Surely as Greens they should be about maximising public transport provision and use, and avoiding waste? Their current stance on ECRL is counter to both of those things, and for what? Solely in the name of "keeping the system public"

    On your second paragraph, you still don't appear to have grasped the nature of an availability PPP. "The consortium wants to make profits". Well yes, of course, but its revenue stream is largely guaranteed as it will be paid a monthly lease fee if it meets performance targets. The Government will set fares, collect revenue, and take the patronage risk.

    The only "hidden subsidy" is in terms of what that availability fee is, and therefore what it equates to on a per train-km basis or per passenger-km basis. This should be public and hope it turns out to be, since a large part of the justification of what is going on is on the basis of reducing operating cost. Op costs of the NWRL should be *way* lower than those of the existing network, because of a massively leaner staff profile and all new assets. Set against that is the need for the availability fee to pay back the capex over the 15 year concession period. So I think this information is hugely important for the public to understand

  28. Mushalik says:

    I don’t know how you have calculated “billions” for not doing the ECRL conversion.

    I have fully grasped what this is all about and you just said it nicely. The problem with this privatization is that the commercial patronage risk is with the NSW tax payer while the revenue stream for the private operator is “largely guaranteed”. What a bad deal for the public.

    But in this PPP both parties are sitting in the same boat and if the trains are not filled, the financial problem for the government may become too big to continue especially if the budget situation worsens. Assumed low operating costs will not help as they must have already been factored in.

    I have not seen any publicly available operating cost calcs (maybe all commercial in confidence) so we have no idea what assumptions have been made and whether a sensitivity analysis was done. As I said before the commercial success or otherwise hinges on them implementing massive residential high rise projects around at least 5 stations. If there is a housing crash tomorrow the scheme will fall apart even before the first train rolls over the tracks.

    The Sydney Trains staff will be scared (especially on the existing ECRL) with this privatization drive and we don’t know what productivity implications that will have.

  29. Mushalik says:

    To Tom

    The government cares very little about what the public writes in submissions whether they come from me or you. I have attended, over the years, many seminars in which you discover that major decisions have already been made anyway. These are only talk fests.

    The only time ever something was changed as a result of my letters was that they added 500 mm to the pedestrian stairs at the West side of Epping station which I had described as chicken ladder.

    Otherwise I move my posts to my “I told you so” menu, for example:

    7/10/2009
    Too late for Sydney Metro Tunnels
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/too-late-for-metro-tunnels

    In relation to what you call transport revolution with automatic trains continuing from Chatswood to Bankstown I remain skeptical, given the constant changes in planning. The roads lobby is already asking for another road tunnel across the Harbour.

  30. Simon says:

    Ray wrote: “… two road headers driving tunnels to connect with the ECRL stubs, they could always be pulled out and sent in a different direction.”

    Why would they have to be pulled out? Can’t the existing headers be steered in the new direction?

    Tom wrote: “why should North Shore Line get reduced frequencies because Upper Northern Line users are too lazy to change.”

    The upper Shore and indeed the whole North Shore line is over serviced. One may argue that the upper Northern line is under utilised too, but I say it is just under fed by buses. Fix the fare system and watch mode shift happen.

    Tom also wrote: “I think the concept of the SRT stretching from Rouse Hill to City to Bankstown and other destinations if they expand it is exciting and fantastic.”

    This statement is brought to you by the Liberal party. They still haven’t explained how Erskenville and St Peters are to be served and why on earth would you go to all that trouble and not continue to Regents Park? There is also the small matter of spending many billions and doing nothing for the most congested corridor on the network, the via Strathfield corridor.

  31. @Simon –

    $1bn to lengthen platforms, amplify track, and improve signalling has been committed. Not much detail yet beyond that, but the government is most definitely doing something on this corridor. That’s also ignoring the shift in customers from T1 to the NWRL when it opens, which will ease the pressure on that corridor too.

  32. @QPP –

    Your comment from 10:05PM last night was the 3,000th on this blog. Congrats to you, along with everyone else who made the other 2,999. ;)

  33. Anthony says:

    Instead of trains from the NWRL terminating at Chatswood, why not extend the line to North Sydney? This could be done by building the line adjacent to the North Shore line, like the Freight line from Epping to Thornleigh which is currently being built. It would certainly be cheaper and quicker than tunnelling for miles. It might even be feasible to build it in time for the opening of the NWRL.
    The benefits are NWRL passengers could change trains much closer to the city, connecting trains would be easier because many people get off at North Sydney and it would get to North Sydney quicker than the North Shore line by not stopping at the stations in between, with possible exception of St Leonards.
    It would allow much needed redevelopment of North Sydney station and set it up for the next stage for the second harbour crossing. Is it feasible to cross the harbour by adding the new line to the Harbour Bridge? I don’t know but if it was, it would save billions and they could use existing unused tunnel and platforms at Wynyard, saving more.

  34. Simon says:

    I’d have to say, I can only see $1bn extra for a mixed mode tunnel as total chicken feed in the scheme of the project and money well spent.

  35. QPP says:

    And the 2-4 years delay in NWRL services it would entail?

  36. QPP says:

    “Instead of trains from the NWRL terminating at Chatswood, why not extend the line to North Sydney?”

    Guys. Listen, will you. Major configuration changes like this take *YEARS* to work through all the design issues, let alone build the thing. And again you are renegotiating the PPP. And I think it’s based in incorrect assumptions in the first place, notably:

    “This could be done by building the line adjacent to the North Shore line, like the Freight line from Epping to Thornleigh which is currently being built. It would certainly be cheaper and quicker than tunnelling for miles.”
    I serverely doubt it would be cheaper or quicker. Like most people, you overestimate the cost of tunnelling and underestimate the cost of amplifications and managing surface impacts. And you’d still have a desperately compromised alignment through the Wollstonecraft/Waverton curves

    “It might even be feasible to build it in time for the opening of the NWRL.”
    Complete fantasy. Please. You’re talking about a decade to go from first inception to running services on something of that scale. The NWRL will start testing trains in late 2017, that’s only 2.5 years away. You couldn’t even get a concept design and associated procurement plan sorted out for what you’re suggesting in that sort of timescale

  37. QPP says:

    >>I’d have to say, I can only see $1bn extra for a mixed mode tunnel as total chicken feed in the scheme of the project and money well spent.<<

    $1bn is an absolute minimum for renegotiating the PPP. Running mixed mode would be a lot more expensive than that. How much work do you think is going to be involved having two train control systems in the tunnel, and developing, proving and gaining ONSR accreditation for getting them to work together? Or maybe we're talking about handing over NWRL trains at Epping to ATRICS control and putting a driver in there for the section through to Chatswood (you've still got the two TCS issue in the run in to Epping station though)

    I'm beginning to wish TfNSW had gone for 25kV AC for the NWRL so these sort of proposals were more obviously misconceived. I'll put it down to a febrile pre-election disorder

  38. Mushalik says:

    QPP
    “Or maybe we’re talking about handing over NWRL trains at Epping to ATRICS control and putting a driver in there for the section through to Chatswood”

    You got it. I cannot understand why this was not originally planned as the cheapest and smoothest transition. Because it would allow passengers to change trains to double deckers at 3 ECRL stations and not just Chatswood where we have the crowding problems on those platforms as described here:

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/how-timetable-for-northwest-rail-link-change-went-off-the-rails-20140129-31mvq.html

    That’s why I included in my post the Nuremberg metro example where the transition to driverless trains was properly planned because no one dared to close a functioning tunnel for a long time (like 7 months)

    And as for the extra costs on the North Shore line that was the Oct 2012 article in the SMH

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/extra-4b-needed-to-upgrade-rail-network-to-cope-with-link-20121002-26xdz.html

  39. QPP says:

    Yep. The bit you don’t seem to get is the size of the engineering task that entails and the compromises it introduces – nor the time and cost consequences of trying to make such a change at this late stage

    BTW, the reason the ECRL is closing for so long is not because of the physical conversion works – it’s the dynamic train testing that has to be done to prove the system to the satisfaction of the regulator. Now take that level of testing and triple it to prove that NWRL trains can work under ATRICS, to prove the dual control system on the approach to Epping (either from the Upper Northern Line or from NWRL) can work safely, and still the proving of NWRL trains with their train control system

  40. Ray says:

    @Simon –
    The road headers are already driving towards a connection with the ECRL stub tunnels. I have examined the alignments of the current proposal and the previous North west Metro and to connect with new underground platforms on the western side of Beecroft Rd, they would have to take a slightly tighter radius from the Epping Services Facility and they would have to be pulled back (rather than out) to allow this to happen. This is technically not an insurmountable problem. The two TBM’s now tunneling from Cherrybrook to the Epping Services Facility could at this stage be realigned with the tunnels to the new underground platforms. However, once the TBM’s have broken through on the proposed alignment, that is probably the end of it.

    @Mushalik –
    The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link (PERL) has been canned, so I don’t think you need to worry about any future stub tunnels being constructed. They have been eliminated in the current NWRL plan.

    The focus on a connection between Parramatta and Macquarie Park will now be on the Light Rail proposal. The Government has been somewhat equivocal in nominating a route via Carlingford as a possible option, but curiously it hasn’t mentioned Epping which you would expect would also be on this route. A route through Epping would needlessly duplicate the existing rail link to Macquarie Park. It raises suspicion about what their real agenda is.

    Considering that the Parramatta City Council feasibility study recommended the most direct route via Eastwood along the existing County Road reservation and that the route via Carlingford and Epping was eliminated early in the study, it beggars belief that the Government has put the latter back onto the agenda. What possible motive could they have in the face of overwhelming evidence supporting the route via Eastwood. I agree that running a light rail line along Carlingford Rd (as well as Pennant Hills Rd), let alone through the Epping Town Centre, is unsustainable and would require massive property resumptions and disruption to existing traffic flows. It’s just not an option.

    I noticed in your earlier link about the ECRL promo that it mentioned a tunnel diameter of 6m, which is exactly the same internal diameter of the current NWRL tunnels. What’s going on? Did they give incorrect information?

    @Tom –
    You sound like you’re a Liberal Party apologist. You don’t have much credibility as far as I’m concerned.

    @Bambul –
    I think $1 billion to upgrade the existing network is chicken feed compared with what they propose to spend on the Rapid Transit extension, with questionable benefits.

  41. QPP says:

    There are still (new) stub tunnels for a potential future Parramatta link being constructed as part of the NWRL. The existing stubs are being taken by the new drives, but new stubs are being constructed should this ever be needed, albeit there is no plan to do so

  42. QPP says:

    @Ray, yes, technically there is nothing physical to stop tunnelling being realigned, but it would take time and it would require a reconfiguration and renegotiation. So we’re still talking years and billions in terms of impact

  43. Tom says:

    Ray, I’d say you have no credibility either but then that just makes us even stevens. Just because you cannot see the benefits of this doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I also find interesting that you immediately went for the “what’s the hidden agenda” cliche over the ex-Parramatta light rail issue… Stick to the facts, why don’t you?

    Simon, how do you justify that, and if it’s even the case the North Shore Line is over-serviced, why haven’t more trains been diverted along to the Northern Line (barring issues with timetabling conflict with fast trains?).

    I don’t think some even understand just how badly mixed running would affect the NWRL as a whole and the contracting documents themselves. Actually engage your grey matter and think: What happens if there is a delay or an accident or whatever on the Upper Northern Line? Or on the NWRL? What then happens to the trains on the other, still operating system? Do they stop and wait for trains to catch up to schedule? How is that going to be calculated for monthly damages and who gets the compensation? How would you design a turnback for the NWRL to fit in at Chatswood and a through platform for Northern Line trains? And then how is the whole shebang supposed to work when you build the second harbour crossing (bearing in mind that the crossing will be cheapest if designed for single decker and not double decker trains)? How do you account for the performance impact of the heavier double deckers slowing down the light single decks?

    I also had a look at the Nuremburg example cited by Mushalik in Wikipedia. The train types used are much the same – similar dimensions, seat layouts, weight and so on. The mixed mode system is definitely not intended as a permanent solution, rather a temporary solution until all trains are ATC compatible and it is the first of it’s kind apparently. Also – the system you discuss delayed the opening of the line itself by a whopping 3 years. Can you imagine the NWRL also similarly opening in 2022 instead of 2019?

  44. Simon says:

    Tom, I would refer you to the official stats: http://www.sydneytrains.info/about/our_performance/train_loads.jsp

    As for your question “why haven’t more trains been diverted along to the Northern Line?”, the answer would be a lack of demand. Sydney’s ridiculous fare system actually gives an incentive to walk further to a bus rather than the train let alone catching a feeder bus to the train. Notice how Pennant Hills and Beecroft are seeing declining peak usage while other stations are rising slightly: http://visual.bts.nsw.gov.au/barrier/

  45. @QPP –

    The new PERL stub tunnels were quietly dropped from this project a while back. The current plan no longer includes them. I think this is a bad idea, as it prevents the future addition of a PERL (along a different alignment to a light rail connection and some decades into the future when such a light rail line begins to reach capacity).

  46. Simon says:

    QPP, I think the 2-4 years figure you suggest is completely made up. I don’t see why you couldn’t start work on dual use this year and implement it in time for the NWRL. Although I guess it requires not losing much time in negotiating.

  47. Simon says:

    Tom, to prevent back and forth, I would add that the North Shore, Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra (+South Coast) lines have their own path through Town Hall, Western and Northern lines share one. The 5th is shared by the Inner West, South and part of the Bankstown line and the 6th is shared by the remainder of the Bankstown line and the East Hills Line. It’s true that the Eastern Suburbs line is more underutilised but there doesn’t seem an obvious fix for that besides improved fares.

  48. MrV says:

    Ha. New rule for this blog, the longer the comments go the probability the discussion will become about the ECRL or single v double decker trains approaches 100%.
    Anyway all good for the blog stats.

    So that said. I still think closing the ECRL is a mistake, the metro should continue to city via a new corridor. The more I think about it and with the contruction of so many apartments on the Northern Line around Rhodes, would it be worth running to to Strathfield via that corrior. Maybe underground (?) freeing up the at grade tracks for Intercity/future HSR.
    Once at Strathfield the metro could be extended multiple directions over time and importantly w/o affecting existing infrastructure requiring lengthy closures.

  49. MrV says:

    Also,
    I assume the gates taken from Olympic Park and maybe other stations will be repurposed to stations that don’t have gates to ensure?
    Otherwise what a waste – gates that still would have a lot of life left in them.

  50. Mushalik says:

    Babul

    “PERL stubs quietly dropped”. Is there a link on the web on this? This is yet another example how planning is done in Sydney, irrespective of whether you think that a heavy rail tunnel Epping – Parramatta is necessary or not and/or whether a light rail option is feasible. I guess the reason for this is that they know full well that the NWRL ending in Chatswood will practically force them to go for a 2nd Harbour crossing which will keep them busy for another decade. Everything else is beyond their radar.

    However, I don’t think that we are going to see any big rail tunnel project anymore because you can sell your assets only once and much of it will be wasted in NorthConnex, WestConnex etc.Just type in the search word “next financial crisis” on the internet.

  51. QPP says:

    >>QPP, I think the 2-4 years figure you suggest is completely made up. I don’t see why you couldn’t start work on dual use this year and implement it in time for the NWRL. Although I guess it requires not losing much time in negotiating.<<

    I think it's realistic. There is little fat in the current schedule to get the service operational in 4 years from now

    I think you have to understand the scale of what you're trying to do when it comes to running dual mode. It's not the physical work that is the problem, it is engineering the control systems to manage having two of them operating trains on the same piece of track. One is a fairly conventional signals & track circuits system, the other is a communications based system that relies on constant communication between the train and control system to capture speed & position data

    Obviously you have to come up with a new system to interface between the two, and do so in a failsafe manner so there are not movement conflicts. There's an inherent significant risk in that interface which will not be easy to overcome (or to get accreditation for operating whatever it is you end up settling on)

    Everywhere you look at how you'd engineer this, there's another issue that has the potential to unravel. Managing turnback movements at Chatswood. Managing the interface of passenger information systems. Managing the risk you've introduced by not having platform screen doors in ECRL. Managing maintenance responsibilities. It's way, way simpler to have a separated network, and if that simpler separated network will take all the time between now and 2019 to engineer, install, test and commission, then one that's much more complicated is going to take a lot longer. You can't underestimate the ONRSR issues – it's a big enough deal getting them to accredit a driverless system, doing the same thing AND the interface with a conventional system is pretty major. Accreditation work for NWRL has started already, BTW. It will take 3 years to get them over the line

    My experience of dealing with even relatively minor changes in ATRICS is that 2 years is a minimum to get the issues sorted. Control system changes take a long time to resolve because of the level of risk you're dealing with.

    And yes, of course you would have to negotiate and this would also be huge. The whole deal has been predicated on it being a separated network, changing this changes the fundamentals of the deal. It took TfNSW 2.5 years to specify and procure the current deal.

    And for what? You'd have to ask yourself, what would be the outcome? You would cripple the capacity and expandability of the NWRL for the sake of 4 slots on the via Strathfield route, and maintaining the single seat journey for a few people on the Upper Northern Line

    Better to spend the money on providing more capacity on the western lines by other means

  52. QPP says:

    BTW, The PERL stubs have not been dropped. The TSC contractor is putting new stubs in. I have seen the drawings

  53. Ray says:

    @Tom –
    I do see the benefits of an automated Rapid Transit system in a high density inner urban environment, but not in the context of a low density outer suburban catchment area such as that to be serviced by the NWRL. I also question the value of converting sections of the existing network, such as the Bankstown Line when the network’s overall efficiency will be compromised by confiscating part of its infrastructure to accommodate a Rapid Transit system. Build a completely separate Rapid Transit network by all means, but not until the pressure points on the existing network have been remedied.

    With regard to the Parramatta Light Rail, I have stuck to the facts. You should read my post again. The Government is being duplicitous.

  54. @QPP –

    I saw stub tunnels in the 2011 documentation for the NWRL. But they didn’t appear in the EIS and I haven’t seen any mention of them in any subsequent documentation. When I contacted the NWRL team, I was told that:

    “TJHD* has not been contracted to construct any new stub tunnels at Epping.”

    Do you know when the drawings you saw were dated? If they were from 2011, then I’ve also seen them. If they are after 2011, then I have not.

    *Theiss John Holland Dragados

  55. Mushalik says:

    Leasing the existing ECRL – which was paid by tax-payers – to a private company for 15 years is actually a hidden asset sale for that period. In the Queensland election proposed asset sales have been contentious and may have costed the government its job. It will be interesting to see how that will impact on the NSW election. The whole infrastructure plan is in doubt if this becomes an election issue

    Trends in New South Wales
    public sector assets and sales

    July 2014

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/key/TrendsinNewSouthWalespublicsectorassetsandsales/$File/Trends+in+New+South+Wales+public+sector+assets+and+sales+FINAL.pdf

  56. Simon says:

    Asset sales aren’t as politically toxic in NSW as in Qld which is rather special.

  57. listohan says:

    Was dealing reforming Railcorp and the unions beyond the wit of man? Patricks managed it with a bit of blood and fur. Was Railcorp a tenderer? Are there mandated manning levels in the PPP?

    Why does one have to have a break of network rolling stock to achieve that? If it is such a good idea, surely its implementation should proceed immediately, why not introduce it across the whole network now? Don’t bother taking the electorate with you, nobody does these days.

  58. Tom says:

    Ray –

    I don’t see it that way. Per hour, this new SRT will provide many more seats and easily much more capacity than double deckers on this line – especially at the relatively low frequencies double decks would have had to operate. There is no way, especially with how the current system is set up, that you can reliably and cheaply push more trains onto the North Shore and into the ECRL. Yes, you could take trains away from the North Shore Line but would that be enough and would a reduction of service elsewhere to service a new line be acceptable??

    And how will it compromise the current system’s operation? In fact, removing the Bankstown line from the city circle would make it more efficient, no? It would mean that the Airport Line and the Inner West line can now operate at higher frequency and more of it’s own sector together – there might be issues I’m unaware of about that, but since you say there is, you should enlighten us…

    No one knows what’s going to happen to the line beyond Bankstown, but given all the discussion and previous concepts, I’d say it will be converted as well but the govt is being sensible in not promoting it until all issues are resolved (such as the freight line and how to operate the train at say, Liverpool)

  59. QPP says:

    >>Leasing the existing ECRL – which was paid by tax-payers – to a private company for 15 years is actually a hidden asset sale for that period<<

    Well…..it's not really, is it? That private company is just maintaining it for you

    It's true that you then don't have the flexibility to do something else with it, but you can't call it an asset sale (or 'gift') because it isn't one – asset remains in government ownership

    You have a point that the whole infrastructure plan could be in doubt if asset leasing/sales becomes an election issue, but I think it already is one – it's not like the current government are being anything other than upfront as to what they plan to do to raise funds

  60. Simon says:

    Tom, there is no advantage to removing the Bankstown line from the city circle. It does nothing to allow additional trains on the Inner West or South lines and the East Hills line is a way from capacity. If it was, removing four trains from the busiest hour would only be a small improvement.

  61. gseeney says:

    Simon,

    The city circle via Museum does run 18 tph for the busiest hour, and 10 trains in the busiest half an hour.

    Taking away 4tph from the Bankstown line allows a 25% increase in maximum capacity on the East Hills corridor – from 16tph to 20tph trains. This will be badly needed as the South West Growth Center develops and direct CBD services are added to the SWRL.

    They are also planning a power supply upgrade to the Airport Line to allow it to run 20tph.

  62. gseeney says:

    @bambul – Regarding the stub tunnels, there was a language change between EIS-1 and EIS-2 which seems to back up your information.

    There was mention of stubs in the April 2012 Major Civil Construction Works EIS (EIS-1) on page 7 – 5 (“Two new tunnel stubs would be provided to safeguard a future Parramatta to Epping Rail Link, located approximately 800m from the ECRL connection”) however this was still assuming double deck Sydney Trains services at this stage.

    A future connection is also mentioned in the October 2012 Stations, Rail Infrastructure and Systems EIS (EIS-2) on page 6 – 7 (“An alignment that would allow for any future Parramatta to Epping Rail Link to join the tunnels approximately 800m north of Epping”) – note the language change away from mentioning stubs, rather just mentioning alignment.

  63. RichardU says:

    @greeney More unintended consequences of adding an Albury style break of gauge to the Multi Technology Network that is becoming Sydney Trains.

    The really controversial asset sale assumption is not the ECL fare collection arrangement but the poles and wires proposal that will affect many more people.

  64. Greg says:

    (I have changed my display name since no one seems to be able to read)

    I don’t see how that is an unintended consequence – it is a deliberate decision that is completely separate to the choice of rolling stock or tunnel diameter. They should build the stubs – whether the line is double deck or rapid transit.

    This whole thing comes down to operating cost. This is why Labor pursued the Metro while in power, and this is why the Liberals decided to change to Rapid Transit for the NWRL. The full business case document for the West Metro that was released in the document dump when that project was scrapped showed that the operating cost would actually be lower than the fare revenue on that route – unheard of for rail operations in Sydney. I wouldn’t expect that it would be the same for the NWRL, but you can be it is much cheaper to operate than if it was operated by Sydney Trains.

    Why is that so important? If we want new public transport infrastructure built, we need to get operating costs down. It is one thing for the government to find the CapEx to fund new infrastructure, but it is the OpEx that is the killer in the long term. I certainly think that public transport should be subsidised – it provides a massive external benefit to the rest of society – but that doesn’t change the fact that the cheaper we make new lines to operate, the more new lines we can have built.

  65. Simon says:

    gseeney, that must have been updated in the latest timetable change. Sorry, I was out of date.

    Note that reconfiguration around Erskenville would also allow connection of the East Hills line with Central (i) (Platforms 4-15). A much easier fix than what is needed for the Western Line. There is also the option of sending the remaining 4 Bankstown via Museum trains via Town Hall.

    As for Tom’s points, well, they can’t be taken seriously. There is no guarantee that there will be more passengers coming through the ECRL from the NWRL than there were from the upper northern line. And there is no problem with taking trains away from the upper north shore line. SRT requires trains to be added to it to handle those interchanging from the NWRL which also means removing express patterns. “No one knows what’s going to happen to the line beyond Bankstown” – true but we do know what the published plan is and can judge that on its merit or lack thereof.

  66. > Why is that so important? If we want new public transport infrastructure built, we need to get operating costs down.

    Couldn’t agree more (other than to remove the “operating” qualification – it needs to be total lifetime cost). But the new NWRL format is not about reducing operating costs. It’s about shifting them.

  67. QPP says:

    >>But the new NWRL format is not about reducing operating costs. It’s about shifting them.<<

    What do you mean? Shifting from where to where?

  68. > What do you mean? Shifting from where to where?
    Private sector to public sector

  69. Simon says:

    I think TTR means the other way around.

  70. Todd says:

    There was a brief discussion above about whether SRT really will terminate at Bankstown.
    Pure speculation, but I have to agree that the Government will definately find a way to utilize the existing lines for purely political reasons.
    They got away with cutting the rail line in Newcastle – and that had (admittedly lukewarm) public support. There is no way they would win the argument in that area.
    You also have to note that three of the stations (Regents Park, Berala and Lidcombe) fall within the Auburn electorate – which will be represented by Luke Foley after the election. I doubt they’d want to give the new opposition leader something local to fight for.

    @Simon you said “there is no advantage to removing the Bankstown line from the city circle”. Even if you dismiss the 4 slots through the City Circle each hour (which lets face it, will easily be used up by the Inner West, South, Airport, East Hills lines – or the South West rail link), you are overlooking the huge capacity increase available to the Bankstown line. I’m just saying that you can’t say “there is no advantage”

  71. > @Simon you said “there is no advantage to removing the Bankstown line from the city circle”. Even > if you dismiss the 4 slots through the City Circle each hour (which lets face it, will easily be used up > by the Inner West, South, Airport, East Hills lines – or the South West rail link), you are overlooking > the huge capacity increase available to the Bankstown line. I’m just saying that you can’t say “there > is no advantage”

    A huge capacity increase on a line at barely 30% utilisation? That is not a huge advantage, it’s a waste.

    @Simon, I got it the right way around: I meant shifting *costs* from the private sector to the public sector. (assuming the NWRL was privatised to start with).

  72. QPP says:

    How does it shift costs from the private to the public sector?

  73. @QPP – since you’ve asked twice – And I don’t want to elaborate more, or even this much but ..

    Cost to Run NWRL by Railcorp using Railcorp standards = X
    Cost to run NWRL by Private Sector = Y

    X = 3Y (say)

    Cost to RailCorp to support NWRL but not run it = Z
    Z = 3X/4

    Total cost of the NWRL format is Z + Y = X/3+3X/4 = 13X/12

    Qualitatively, the benefits of the incompatible format are privatised, but the cost are shifted back to the public.

  74. listohan says:

    Will there be a fuss if private sector standards are less then Railcorp standards. Qantas unions have played the safety card successfully for years. From my casual observations, Railcorp has many more customer facing staff than overseas metros and I’m sure they are better paid too. In a fevered electoral climate which will probably be our lot from now on, is all this overcome by changing the name of the employer?

    Customers will still use their Opal cards on NWRL will they understand the staff are not technically employed by Railcorp? They will already be displeased if the second harbour crossing is delayed/cancelled. This seems all very high risk to the government which visits it upon the electorate when asset sales appear to be political death.

  75. QPP says:

    I don’t think the standards will be lower. The specified performance standards are extremely stringent and failure to meet them will mean the monthly service fee will be abated. The OTS contractor will therefore be very highly motivated to meet them

    The focus on staffing is at stations where staff are expected to be out and about and available for customers, not lurking in an office

  76. Simon says:

    Todd, I guess that’s a valid point about enabling more frequency on the Bankstown line but only if there are no other enhancement projects executed.

  77. Tom says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to have standards lower than RailCorp’s… ha.

  78. Greg says:

    @TTR I can see why you didn’t want to elaborate!

    What are the ongoing operating costs to Sydney Trains to support the NWRL and why do you think they will be 3/4 of the cost of what Sydney Trains operating cost would be if it were to run the NWRL?

  79. listohan says:

    If manning levels are to be the same, I’d like to see how costs (and therefore the subsidy) will be reduced too.

  80. QPP says:

    Manning levels will not be the same – who said they would?

    There will not be 2 people on every train for a start. Stations I think you are looking at fewer people as well – the focus is on people available for customer service on platforms and concourses. There won’t be station control rooms as such as there are in many Cityrail stations

  81. QPP says:

    Sorry, just to add to that:

    The focus in the OTS contract is on WHAT has to be achieved in terms of performance – including customer service, cleanliness, reliability/availability of machines, station ambience etc

    It says less about HOW this is to be achieved, and certainly doesn’t specify how many people you have to employ to deliver it – this is the contractor’s problem

    The contract is about ensuring outputs, not managing inputs

  82. RichardU says:

    “customer service”, “station ambience”, “etc” even. That will give the lawyers something to argue about and consume plenty of court time…then there are the legal academics who will write learned articles in the law journals and progress their careers as they climb up the ranks of the nation’s law schools picking about the meanings of these words and how they can be converted to damages awards or justified penalties.

  83. Greg says:

    If you want to do some reading on operating costs these are the closest I can find that allow a comparison.

    Sydney Trains Annual Report 2014 (this is great as it is just for Sydney Trains, NSW Trainlink costs etc are in their own report). Farebox recovery ratio is 33% ($2.2b cost, $750 fare income).

    http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/publications/annual_reports/sydney-trains-annual-report-2013-14.pdf

    To get an idea of Metro operating costs, you can take a look at this draft business case for the West Metro that was released when it was dumped. Look from page 109 onwards.

    http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/metrodocs/Stage%202%20%28Westmead%20-%20Central%29/Product%20development%20and%20business%20case/03%20-%20Stage%202%20-%20Business%20Case%20-%20final%20draft%20-%20Jan%202010.pdf

    It was cashflow positive from day 1. Now obviously I’m not saying this will be the case for the NWRL – there are some differences such as:

    – NWRL 6 car trains vs West Metro 5 car trains
    – NWRL 15 trains per hour vs 24 trains per hour for West Metro
    – NWRL + ECRL = 37km, vs West Metro 22km
    – Different patronage and fares (longer distance travel on NWRL with higher fares but lower patronage)

    Now obviously the differences above could be massive and I am not saying that the NWRL will cover costs with fare revenue (remembering that I am talking about the NSW government/taxpayers here as that is who is collective the fares), but surely it is not too much of a stretch to think this will be a better cost recovery ratio than 33%. I would expect at least double that, but that is just a guess so I can’t back it up.

    If this is the case, you can see why NSW governments – Labor and Liberal – have been persuaded down this path. Cheaper to operate = more money to direct to CapEx budget for future projects or to direct or OpEx budget for more services running elsewhere.

    For comparison, here are some farebox recovery ratios from around the world. I didn’t realise the London Underground was so high – 91%!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio#Farebox_ratios_around_the_world

  84. QPP says:

    Not really. The terms and measurement systems are quite clearly defined. This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has been tried

  85. RichardU says:

    If in http://bit.ly/1ucRPTf, its not for mere mortals.

  86. QPP says:

    It’s not in that: The role of the Independent Certifier is to certify that the design & construction of the asset is in accordance with the Deed.

    The payment mechanism is in the OTS Deed itself: Schedule 2 specifically.
    http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/b2b/projects/nwrl-ots-project-deed-schedules-applied.pdf

    In respect of service quality (which is where things like cleanliness etc are defined), it’s section 6, with detail in Annexure B

    The dollar figures are redacted but the structure of the payments is there. It’s quite complicated (excessively so IMO, but then TfNSW do love to employ bureaucrats to administer bureaucratic processes)

  87. @greg

    I’ll try and give a more operationally based argument – I *really* don’t want to dig into the dollar specifics again, I’ll leave that to @Bambul.

    If RailCorp were to run the NWRL from day 1, they would probably run 8 trains per hour freq to Rouse Hill peak, 8/hr freq to Hornsby and 4 turned at Gordon. (I know, squillions of alternatives here, but bear with me). To support the NWRL from day 1, RailCorp will need to run 20tph through Chatswood, turning 4 at Gordon and 16 at Hornsby. Chatswood to Hornsby is 30min vs Chatswood – Rouse Hill 45.

    On that basis RailCorp has to run 2 more trains to operate the NWRL vs just supporting it. The NWRL will need to run 12 tph (that’s total number trains operating in a given hour including contraflow, not service frequency).

    Basically 10 extra trains need to run to have an isolated NWRL for (more or less) the same service than if RailCorp ran the whole show.

    Or put another way, to provide a fair percentage (ie people travelling on the NWRL and ECL beyond Chatswood) will need to have their journey provided by 2 trains instead of one. One of those might be on a super cost effective driverless all-standing metro train, but the they still need the RailCorp dinosour as well. Which begs the question, what’s the point?

  88. Greg says:

    Leaving aside the fact that there would be at least 4tph starting at Lindfield, which would cut 50 minutes from a round trip, your argument falls apart when you open the CBD rail link 4 years later in 2023 as is the plan. It also improves the cost recovery of the rapid transit as the fixed costs of running the service are already spent (corporate overheads, maintainance and control facilities.)

    Not only does that allow you to only run services on the North Shore line required by demand, but I also increases the number of higher cost Sydney Trains services you would need to run if you had have built the CBD link as DD.

  89. > your argument falls apart when you open the CBD rail link 4 years later in 2023

    I like the “when” :-).

    Of course it does. It’s an entirely different scenario. Of course there is a larger and more powerful argument about capital efficiency here.

    But I could run a similar argument purely about operating cost of the Bankstown Line. It’ll have to run most if not all the 20tph 2nd harbour trains. And of the 8 DD peak services an hour it operates now, 4 of which (ex Liverpool) will have to run anyway via a different route, meaning the Opex of the NWRL trains needs to be 5 times lower than that of RailCorp’s monsters.

    Now surely you are not going to try and argue crewing represents 80% of the cost of running a RailCorp train?

  90. Tom says:

    Crewing does cost a massive amount in operating trains, actually, but probably not that much.

    But let’s not pretend you have any actual numbers to support your random algebra or percentages that you’ve stated above, eh?

    Also – economies of scale don’t necessarily apply here – especially when you’re asking a hugely inefficient and wasteful organization to run it. Your solution (as I understand it) still means there would have to be a transfer for Upper Northern line people at Epping if they want to go via/to Chatswood – so what’s the point of doing what you suggest and why even bother suggesting it since tunnels are now too small?

    Also – why bother to try cast doubt on the 2nd Harbour Crossing not being completed? Given the Libs have made it a priority to complete infrastructure, not carrying out a central and prime piece of their election platform will only result in them being turfed out pronto. It’s one of the key ideal differences from the ALP as seen by the voting public – that they do not procrastinate, fake up plans every year or two, and get stuff done as promised.

  91. michblogs says:

    “Chatswood to Hornsby is 30min vs Chatswood – Rouse Hill 45.”

    Look at a map and explain how this is plausible.

  92. michblogs says:

    “Note that reconfiguration around Erskenville would also allow connection of the East Hills line with Central (i) (Platforms 4-15). ”

    They can do this already ! I have seen the Canberra Xplorer on the East Hills line.

  93. Simon says:

    They can do it but it interferes with the Illawarra line if they do. They need the reconfiguration to allow better segregation.

  94. Simon says:

    And therefore better reliability and peak capacity.

  95. Ray says:

    Before the proposed Rapid Transit extension took over the second harbour crossing pathway, I had always advocated that in conjunction with the originally proposed crossing as part of the existing network, that the sextuplication of the Illawarra Lines between Sydenham and Erskineville be completed to allow the Bankstown Line to operate separately and connect it directly to the City Circle via a connection to the Illawarra Local at Esrkineville.

    The current Illawarra Local would be slewed to connect with the Illawarra Main beyond the ESR turnout to connect with the Illawarra Dive to Sydney Terminal and ultimately the new harbour crossing.

    You would then have direct paths, without conflicting movements, from the new Bankstown Line tracks to the City Circle, from the current Illawarra Local, which would in effect become the “Main”, to Sydney Terminal and the new CBD rail Link and the current Illawarra Main (with a high speed turnout) to the ESR. Intercity services could still have access from the current Mains to Sydney Terminal. South West express services on the East Hills Line would run directly to the new CBD rail link and second cross harbour tunnel.

    But alas, that is unlikely to happen now.

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