A NSW Labor Government will build all transport projects currently under or about to commence construction plus a second Harbour rail crossing as part of its infrastructure policy released yesterday. It would also drop plans for a 99 year lease of the electricity distribution network, obtaining its $10bn funding by not cutting $5bn worth of business taxes and using $5bn of unallocated funding in the government’s Restart NSW infrastructure fund.

Under Labor, projects already under construction, such as the North West Rail Link and CBD and South East Light Rail, would be completed. Projects about to commence construction, such as the M4 East; M5 East duplication; and NorthConnex, would also be completed. In addition, Labor has also committed to the $1bn upgrade to the Western Sydney rail network, which will include improved signalling and longer platforms for trains that are 10 carriages long rather than the existing 8 carriages.

Labor will committ to completing the NWRL and has given qualified support for a second Harbour rail crossing to connect it to the CBD. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

Labor will committ to completing the NWRL and has given qualified support for a second Harbour rail crossing to connect it to the CBD. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW.)

The plan would see both WestConnex and a second Harbour rail crossing modified. WestConnex’s M4 East would link up directly to the CBD along a yet undefined path, while the M5 East duplication would be redirected to the airport and seaport at Botany. Meanwhile, the Inner West bypass linking the M4 and M5 would be dropped entirely. Any construction on a second Harbour rail crossing would begin 5 years later than currently planned, in 2022 rather than 2017, and also be subject to a “rigorous cost-benefit analysis and business case”. In addition, no committment was made for a Western Sydney Harbour road tunnel or Western Sydney light rail.

Commentary: The wrong priorities

Labor’s refusal to consider privatisation, despite being supported by former Labor Premier Morris Iemma and Prime Minister Paul Keating, has limited its ability to promise an infrastructure plan as large as the Coalition’s. The Sydney Morning Herald’s transport reporter Jacob Saulwick put it best when he described it as “less of the same” in comparing it to the Coalition plan. In fact, other than the changes to WestConnex, this is largely a copy of the Coalition plan with some elements dropped and others deferred.

One positive to come from this report is an M5 East duplication that links up to Botany rather than St Peters. One of the main benefits of WestConnex will come from taking freight trucks off local roads, and having a direct connection will achieve this while also adding capacity to a growing port.

Labor should also be commended on committing to a second Harbour rail crossing. But deferring its construction for 5 years and adding conditions to that construction puts question marks over whether it is serious about building it. Yesterday’s policy document even quotes Nick Greiner, notorious for opposing rail projects and supporting tollroads, to make this case. In doing so, it reveals the real problem with this plan – it shifts priorities away from rail and towards roads.

Most disappointing is that this plan makes a clear committment to building a new freeway right into the CBD, while maybe building a new rail line into the CBD at a later point in the future. These are the wrong way around. Roads, which have their place, should provide travel opportunities from low density origins and/or destinations, acting as a bypass of dense areas like the CBD. Rail, on the other hand, works best at transporting large numbers of people from high density origins and/or destinations. So to build a road into the CBD but not rail is highly perverse.

WestConnex and the proposed Western Harbour road tunnel, both of which are plagued with problems like property acquisitions or of inducing demand for car travel, enjoyed the major advantage that they would remove cars from places like the Sydney CBD or Newtown’s congested King St. In the CBD, it would also see roadspace on the surface taken away from cars on George St and Elizabeth St as part of the CBD light rail line as the former is pedestrianised and the latter is converted to a bus road.

It is here, and not Labor’s inability to accelerate infrastructure construction due to it committment to maintain public ownership of state owned assets, that is most concerning. Labor prioritised roads rather than rail, and those are the wrong priorities.

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Comments
  1. Mushalik says:

    It is too late anyway to change much as contracts have been signed. But neither the Liberals nor the ALP have understood what is actually going on:

    15/2/2015
    Free oil! Next stop free oil crunch
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/free-oil-next-stop-free-oil-crunch

    10/2/2015
    NorthConnex road tunnel contract signed only days after USD 150-200 oil price warnings in Davos
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/northconnex-road-tunnel-contract-signed-only-days-after-us-150-200-oil-price-warnings-in-davos

    A sustainable (ie energy frugal) Sydney is far out of sight. Planning is not even energy aware. For example, a transition to gas as transport fuel is now almost impossible as all gas is exported

    Australia’s LNG market a ‘slow train crash’ says Credit Suisse analyst
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/australias-lng-market-a-slow-train-crash-says-credit-suisse-analyst-20150217-13gnh8.html

    NSW gas as transport fuel. Where are the plans?
    http://crudeoilpeak.info/nsw-gas-as-transport-fuel-where-are-the-plans

  2. Dudley Horscroft says:

    This is indeed disappointing – but not unexpected. The ALP has had no good ideas, perhaps no ideas – since “Let’s get rid of the trams, and then traffic will flow with no troubles!”

    Query – can the Sydney CBD absorb many more cars entering it to stay in a car park for a work day? Sydney City Council does not apparently think so, nor do transport experts. Only Mr Greiner – definitely not an expert in this field – thinks so. Hence it is pointless constructing the tunnel section of the M4. Widening parts of the M4 may be desirable – but it means that where the M4 ends you still end up with the current traffic jam.

    Widening the M5 and improving the connexion to Port Botany is probably a much better idea, but is not necessary to deal with freight traffic in the southern suburbs. A better idea would be to complete double tracking the rail link from Marrickville (the Goods Lines) to Port Botany, and strictly limiting freight set out of Port Botany to that to be delivered in the local area. All else must go by the improved rail service to one of the ‘inland ports’ in Sydney’s west, where it can be transshipped to road, if necessary, and can continue on comparatively uncongested roads.

    Passenger transport. From the north a second harbour crossing is already in existence. It is on the east side of the Harbour Bridge. There is reasonable room in the rail reservation from Chatswood to St Leonards to add an additional two tracks – indeed this may have been done since Google took its photos – there seemed to be work going on when I passed by train recently. From St Leonards – either from the outer edges of the existing side platforms if a track can be fitted in – perhaps the platforms could be narrowed a bit to accommodate the tracks – or underground at new platforms, thence direct to the stubs and the unused North Sydney platforms. There the NWRL services could link to services that currently terminate at North Sydney, or, preferably continue over the replacement bridge onto the east side tracks, which were used by the trams as a ‘temporary expedient’. This would bring the trains into the two terminal platforms at Wynyard. Normal terminus work here could allow a five minute service for the NWRL trains. Note that the only connexions with the existing lines would be at North Sydney, Chatswood, Epping, and possibly at the very far northern end if a continuation is eventually made. While tracks would be connected, this would not be normally used in service – but would be available in emergencies or for transferring trains from one section to another.

    From the west. There has been a proposal to construct a new express line for western passengers from the vicinity of Ashfield (think I am right there) near direct as possible to a terminal at Barangaroo. Being direct, this could cut off about 10 to 15 minutes travel time for those from western Sydney bound for the northern end of the CBD. This deserves consideration – whether practical or economically feasible I don’t know.

    Certainly the Parramatta Light Rail proposals deserve at least the amount of investigation tha the Liberals are presently giving the.

    Nearer in, there is a very good case for extending the George Street tramway south west and west along Parramatta Road as far as Norton Street. This would replace all the buses running into the CBD from Norton Street in, which would become a substantial interchange for the outer ends of the routes, which would become feeders, and replace all the buses running in from the various roads which join the main route up to and including City Road/King Street.

    One of the main objectives, supposedly, of WestConnex was to give better access from the western areas of Sydney to Kingsford Smith airport. There is, of course, rail access, but this means going into Central, changing trains there, and then paying the excess charge to use Domestic or International Airport stations. Overlooked is the direct rail route from Parramatta-Lidcombe-Campsie and Marrickville to the Airport. Needed is the restoration of the overhead and power supply on this route – which was electrified over Sir Reginald Ansett Drive to a platform as close as possible to the southern Domestic Airport terminal building. A cheap way of providing good access from western Sydney, and eminently feasible.

    Use of 10 car trains on the western Sydney rail network? At 10 cars they cannot use Town Hall or Wynyard Stations without really major reconstruction – they would therefore be limited to Sydney Terminal. This being the case, there is good reason for going straight to 12 car trains – presumably these trains will run Parramatta to Sydney Terminal only stopping at Strathfield, so the work could be confined to just extending the platforms at those stations, and possibly Blacktown if this is where six car sets are linked to make a 12 car train.

    What does the ALP say about rail to Bringelly Airport? Yes, I thought so, SFA. A rail line to the airport will be needed far sooner than commentators, who only think of airline passengers – have suggested. It will be needed to bring in large quantities of construction materials, and then as soon as operations start, daily, or more frequently, trains carrying large quantities of Jet Fuel. It will be needed to bring in the Airport workers, both in the construction and the operational periods – most major airports with rail lines reckon that the majority of passengers on the trains are the airport workers. The rail line should be initially constructed as a single track, laid out for speeds preferably in excess of 160 km/h – as this is virgin countryside there are no major problems with this, no sharp curves to avoid towns or even villages. The eventual duplication, and construction of intermediate stations, can come much later, when needed, but consideration should be made of very fast trains using the City Circle thence via Domestic and International Airport Stations, Glenfield and Leppington to the Airport. Forty minutes from Central to Bringelly Airport Station should be the maximum timing.

  3. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Just heard: the ALP has remembered Parramatta Light Rail, and has offered the same $1B the Liberals have put up. Comment from Mr Baird, as quoted on the ABC, seems appropriate:

    “Mr Baird was also critical of Labor’s $10 billion public works policy, labelling it a “less-infrastructure-the-better” plan and saying it would not reduce congestion.

    “Yesterday, they announced an infrastructure plan but they didn’t have a light rail project in it. Today, all of a sudden, less than 24 hours later, they’re saying there is one in it.” ”

    Seems like policy on the run. Hope they read the comments on this site – may give them some good ideas (hoping!).

  4. JC says:

    All looks pretty good to me. A motorway link to Port Botany is the one thing that IS needed and is missing from the westconnex scheme despite rhetoric that port access is the justification. M4 to western distrbutor link is not helpful but probably unavoidale in the longer term. Arguably it just undergrounds the existing west city link and should provide some temporary refief to Parramatta Road –and not create new pathways into the inner west, Newtown, Alexandria etc. of course it would be a lot better it LRT to fill the space in P Road was part of the Package.

  5. > Labor prioritised roads rather than rail, and those are the wrong priorities.

    (thought I’d posted this, sorry if I’m redoing something that was moderated)

    While I agree with the above sentiment, I do think Labor made the right choices in which infrastructure projects to cut. As I’ve stated here many times the 2nd rail crossing – particularly in NWRL format – is a boondoggle that won’t solve many problems.

    That said, I think one of the probles we’ve had in NSW transport planning is the choice of mode is made first by the politicians, then the public sector is given the task of find a problem to apply it to.

    What would be refreshing is if *all* projects from all parties were subject to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis and business case.

    And one last point, I think we’ve actually got something akin to a bi-partisan approach to infrastructure planning now. The only substantial difference is the Libs are bringing forward projects based on asset sales they are unlikely to be able to legislate for, or based on Fed funding they are unlikely to see. If the proposed privatisations don’t go ahead (which is a probable outcome if the Libs do win the next election) then their infrastructure program will be similar to Labor’s anyway.

  6. Ray says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head 99. Even if the Liberals win the election, there’s no guarantee that they can get their legislation to lease the poles and wires through the Upper House, particularly if the election outcome is close. In this scenario, their claim to having a mandate would be questionable. Only a convincing victory would assure them of the right to claim that mandate, in which case the cross benchers in the Upper House would be morally obliged to support the government.

    As you rightly point out, without the benefit of the funds realised from the asset sales, both major parties will be on a level playing field as far as infrastructure funding goes and as underwhelming as Labor’s priorities are, the Liberals would be faced with the same dilemma. What is their Plan B?

    This will bring to a head the inevitable question of how governments can sustainably fund capital expenditure over the longer term. There is a limit to how many public assets can be sold off to raise capital and the cupboard is almost bare. What then after that? It can only be sustained by reverting to the longstanding traditional method of borrowing with a mix of PPP’s for specific projects which are suited to this form of funding. With interest rates now at their lowest level in decades, it is disappointing that neither party is prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.

    With regard to Labor’s minimalist infrastructure strategy, particularly for transport projects, they had the opportunity to offer a point of difference, but as has already been pointed out, their policy is essentially a watered down version of the Liberal’s plans with no new initiatives of their own. What have they been doing for the last 4 years?

    However, I agree with Labor’s proposal to defer construction of the second harbour rail crossing when there are more pressing needs to upgrade the existing network, particularly on the most congested part between Strathfield and the CBD.

    Even the $1 billion allocated for the upgrading of the existing network, which would appear to be the same as the Liberal’s plan for an abbreviated Western Express terminating at Central, is a missed opportunity to at least commit to a longer term plan to extend it to Barangaroo via a new city relief line from the Mains at Eveleigh as originally proposed.

  7. Lachlan says:

    Labor committed today to a $1bn light rail line though parramatta, with Olympic park the preferred route.

  8. > Even the $1 billion allocated for the upgrading of the existing network, which would appear to be the > same as the Liberal’s plan for an abbreviated Western Express terminating at Central, is a missed > opportunity to at least commit to a longer term plan to extend it to Barangaroo via a new city relief > line from the Mains at Eveleigh as originally proposed.

    Agreed.

    The bottom line is if the 2nd crossing is built, it needs to be built in full HR. And if that’s too expensive, then only the southern half should be built.

    Just for the sake of having 200 comment post, I’ll re-itterate my view that the best upgrade option to for all/most of sector 3 should be upgraded to 200m/10 car trains, with 24tph between Chatswood and Strathfield using ETACS3. That’s a $2bil project.

    Another thing that I think needs to be considered is rolling stock. The >30yo C Sets are the newest fleet members able to be run in 10 car trains, and there just arn’t enough of them for there to be enough 10 car trains to make a difference.

  9. Tom says:

    That would be significantly more than a 2bil project. You have failed to consider that retrofitting modern signalling is expensive, the expense of extending Central Suburban, Town Hall, Wynyard, North Sydney’s platforms in particular to ten cars, the general expense of expanding all platforms and the purchase of dedicated rolling stock which will take time (also I doubt you could cheaply make the C-sets work to newer signalling nor would there be enough to run the service.) – and this whole project would take just as long as a second crossing to deliver, as well as causing regular commuters a world of pain as you would have to have frequent shut downs.

    The 2nd Crossing shouldn’t necessarily be built as double deck heavy rail – especially when you consider that due to various factors (such as weight and power), you would have to have far deeper city stations probably using only elevators for access in order to have acceptable gradings under the harbour.

    TTR – you never really explained what your ‘equations’ meant on the last post :) perhaps you should go back and work on citing some numbers to support your case?

    Additionally, as a response to other commentators –
    Sydney Harbour Bridge’s old tram tracks are NOT an ideal solution. Terminating at Wynyard is pointless in two ways – it fails to provide a new set of train paths through the city and therefore new capacity for the transport system as a whole, and it contributes to the already severe crush loads in Town Hall and Wynyard due to transferring to/from. Additionally, you would have to cope with structures that have since been built in the way of the tram tracks (such as the Cahill) and you would have the same grade problems as the existing tracks that limits speed and therefore capacity over the bridge.

    Ray – you’ve apparently missed the point where the Libs plan to spend enormous sums on the Western Line as well as building the Second Harbour Crossing. Both will expand capacity on the network.

  10. Todd says:

    “There is a limit to how many public assets can be sold off to raise capital and the cupboard is almost bare”

    As long as money from asset sales is used to fund asset construction this is absolutely not the case.

    Even the current M4 is an asset. The problem is, the previous government, instead of continuing to generate an income or leasing it, decided to abolish the toll in a cynical attempt to win votes in the 2011 election. This basically made the asset worthless.

    Keep in mind that all these projects announced by the Liberals are being funded by the sale (99 year lease) of 49% of just two of the three electricity retailers. There is plenty more where that came from.

  11. Greg says:

    Remember as well that the plan with WestConnex is to build in stages using government funding and government borrowing with the government setting the tolls, with the end result being that the roads will be sold to the private sector after the traffic level has been established and the lower risk to the private sector results in a higher price for taxpayers.

    With regards to the rail upgrades – it’s great that the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade will go ahead, but you should read any extended trains as being code for Sydney Terminal terminator services – unless the CBD Relief line is also mentioned (it isn’t). These terminators really need SRT with platforms that are likely to be under platforms 1-15 to take the interchanging passengers if too many of these services are added.

    As far as I can tell, there are 2 phases to the services changes for the Western Line. These are the changes associated with the introduction of the NWRL, and then the later changes resulting from the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade.

    The first changes are detailed in this document:

    http://www.smh.com.au/cqstatic/13fgec/2019patronage.pdf

    There is a signal upgrade from Westmead to Granville out to tender at the moment I believe that should allow the required 20tph from the west to all run on the same pair from the Westmead junction inwards. These then split to 10tph over the bridge and 10tph (5tph from Penrith, 5tph from the Blue Mountains) into Sydney Terminal on the mains (splitting at Homebush). This is combined with 10tph from the Northern Line for 20tph over the bridge.

    This will likely happen whomever wins the election, and shouldn’t cause too many problems as the passengers with a destination near Central will self-select to the services which terminate there.

    The second changes are more substantial and they are the changes with the $1 billion price tag (the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade).

    This is listed as longer trains/platforms, track amplifications and ATO from Westmead to North Sydney. There is less detail on how this will operate but we can presume that the desire is to run 24tph inwards from Westmead, and that the longer trains will terminate at Sydney Terminal. Making an assumption that they will want to increase capacity on both Northern and Western lines and keep the stopping pattern simple (may or may not be the case) then let’s say they run 24tph from the west split 12tph over the bridge (8 car) and 12tph into Sydney Terminal (4/8 or 6/6 split between Blue Mountains and Perth). These 12 trains into ST can be up to 12 cars. The 12tph over the bridge from the Western line may combine with 12tph Northern line at Strathfield, which in turn may be supported by a completion of the quad from Epping to Rhodes.

    The result of the above 2 changes to the Western Line from a capacity standpoint:

    Phase 1: 20 services x 1200 people = 24,000 pax/hour, 50% into the city and 50% into Sydney Terminal (including Blue Mountains services). As mentioned above this should be OK in the short term without SRT as people will self-select to the appropriate service.

    Phase 2: 24 services, made up of 12tph into the city x 1200 pax (8 car trains) and 12tph into Sydney Terminal x 1800 people (up to 12 car trains, including Blue Mountains services) = 36,000 pax, 40% into the city and 60% into Sydney Terminal. This represents a 50% increase in capacity on the Western Line, however that is made up for a 20% increase through the city and an 80% increase into Sydney Terminal.

    In the second scenario (i.e. the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade that Labor have included in their plan), it is no longer feasible for passengers to self-select to the appropriate service as so much of the capacity is heading along the mains to Sydney Terminal. This requires capacity to be available at Central for people to interchange, i.e. SRT.

    This is why the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade is likely to fail without either SRT through the city or the CBD Relief line. I actually think in the next 30 years both will be needed, and it is a matter of which one comes first. The Liberals are prioritizing SRT, and they are right when they say that SRT and Western Sydney Rail Upgrade go together. Labor are delaying SRT and therefore are likely to see issues with the other work.

    There are a couple of solutions here:

    1) Complete SRT
    2) Build CBD Relief
    3) Possible 3rd option of doing option (1) 5 years later as proposed, and using the Light Rail as a stop-gap measure

    The 3rd option would see the Sydney Light Rail project altered slightly to see a connection at George/Hay Streets in the direction of Sydney Terminal tram loop. Services could then be run from Sydney Terminal loop to Circular Quay every 4 minutes, slotting between the initial 4 minutes headway from the South East for a 2 minute headway on George St. The cost of this would be any additional rolling stock and stabling required – not free by any means but could be a good value stop gap if the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade is to come in to operation before SRT or CBD Relief is in place.

    Either way, it is hard to argue with Saulwick when he says “less of the same”.

    Regarding the Liberals’ chances in the upper house, the Liberals only need to better their 2007 election result in order to improve their count in the upper house as it is those members who are ending their 8 year terms – so pushing the sale of the poles and wires through parliament may not be as hard as people imagine.

  12. Greg says:

    Regarding the WestConnex changes, I can’t help but think that a better bet to reduce the size of the project without making it CBD centric would be to build just stages 1 and 3, with stage 3 connecting to the airport and Port Botany. Then impose a toll on the existing M5 East at the same per km rate as WestConnex.

    I’d like to see some traffic modeling on this to see how much traffic the combination of the new toll on the existing M5 East and the new route from the airport to the west would remove from the congested M5 tunnel.

    Public transport improvements – particularly from SW to SE suburbs and the removal of the Airport Link surcharge may play an important part here too.

  13. Simon says:

    Tom, you must believe if fairies at the bottom of the garden if you believe in the Western Sydney Rail project. That will not do enough. We need to move past the idea that we can avoid doing something to expand capacity via Strathfield.

    Greg, they need another 11 seats to get a majority in their own right which is what they got in 2011. If 2007 repeats they’ll have only 19 seats and so need two CDP plus one of two Shooters and Fishers, assuming they keep their representation constant. Getting 9 seats, one more than in 2007 means they need only the CDP.

    Ray, regarding the comments about the upper house being obliged to support legislation, well not really. If they were elected on a platform to oppose it then they should do so. Besides, any bill rejected by the upper house can be referred to the people in a referendum in NSW – no double dissolution. Look at the Constitution Act 1902.

  14. Greg says:

    Simon – yep you are right, which is what I mean as the Shooter and Fishers (the coalition’s usual go to party in conjunction with the CDP) have said they are opposed to the poles and wires sale. So I am suggesting that if the coalition increase their representation by at least 1 (likely since it is from an election that they lost – 2007) that they are likely to get the sale through with just the CDP.

  15. Anthony says:

    If you want to provide better transport links between Parramatta and Olympic Park why not just provide direct trains on the existing railway line? A train every 15 minutes in peak hour from Parramatta (maybe even Blacktown or Penrith) to Olympic Park with stops at Granville and Lidcombe would be quicker and less expensive than building a new light rail line. If necessary these could continue onto Strathfield where it could terminate and head back (if feasible).
    Another cheaper option would be a rapid busway from Parramatta through to Olympic Park. This would have the added benefit of providing a rapid transit option from Parramatta to Wentworth Point and Rhodes (across the new Homebush Bay Bridge which is being constructed) a precinct which will in a few years have a population of nearly 90,000.

  16. Tom says:

    Simon – No. I actually just bothered to read some of the govt’s plans for the rail lines post-2019. If you look in there, they outline some of the problems encountered in that sector and solutions.

    http://www.smh.com.au/cqstatic/13fgec/2019patronage.pdf

    Additionally, my own preference for resolving the problem past Strathfield is to just delete the South Line leading on to the Inner West and replace with a frequent (10 minute or less?) Cumberland line and have passengers transfer to fast trains to city at Parramatta.

    Also – you would have to be a child to believe that Labor would do anything at all to fix the public transport system, given their several years of dicking round while in govt AND in opposition (since they apparently haven’t done any sort of policy work except oppose everything they can.)

  17. Simon says:

    I’ve read them some of them too.

    Not sure what you mean by “Solutions” but your preferred “solution” makes me not inclined to listen.

  18. @Anthony –

    The purpose of a Parramatta to Olympic Park line is not to connect those two centres, but to connect areas away from the existing rail line to those centres. The BRT line you suggested would also achieve that, albeit at a lower capacity.

    So it depends on what the planned density along that corridor is going to be. In particular, how much development is going to occur on the Camellia industrial site next to Rosehill racecourse.

    If the government plans to develop it intensely, then light rail along there, anchored by Parramatta/Westmead and Olympic Park/Strathfield would become a lot more viable.

  19. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Tom said:

    “Sydney Harbour Bridge’s old tram tracks are NOT an ideal solution. Terminating at Wynyard is pointless in two ways – it fails to provide a new set of train paths through the city and therefore new capacity for the transport system as a whole, and it contributes to the already severe crush loads in Town Hall and Wynyard due to transferring to/from. Additionally, you would have to cope with structures that have since been built in the way of the tram tracks (such as the Cahill) and you would have the same grade problems as the existing tracks that limits speed and therefore capacity over the bridge.”

    With respect, use of the Bridge tracks may not be ideal, but it would be excellent. It provides an additional set of tracks from Chatswood to Wynyard, with negligible effect on existing tracks (though it could take some trains off the existing North Shore Line and thus reduce the problems at the Wynyard and Town Hall platforms). It does not need to provide new tracks through the city, note the new tramway just outside the back door of Wynyard Station. This was an excellent interchange when the North Shore Trams were operating. Interchange is easier now with the Opal card in operation, not quite painless, but far better than transferring to already overcrowded trains that would only stop at Town Hall and Central. The trams will give better distribution (compared to the heavy rail stops at Town Hall and Central only) to QVB, Town Hall, Chinatown, Rawson Place, Central and on to UNSW. With the Parramatta Road tramway in operation there will also be direct services to USyd.

    No problem with the Cahill Expressway ramp, it would be replaced by a new ramp from the lane immediately adjacent to the rail tracks. Grades on the Bridge are not a problem for the Waratah trains – they are far more highly powered than the old red rattlers.

    Greg said:

    “The 3rd option would see the Sydney Light Rail project altered slightly to see a connection at George/Hay Streets in the direction of Sydney Terminal tram loop. Services could then be run from Sydney Terminal loop to Circular Quay every 4 minutes, slotting between the initial 4 minutes headway from the South East for a 2 minute headway on George St. The cost of this would be any additional rolling stock and stabling required – not free by any means but could be a good value stop gap if the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade is to come in to operation before SRT or CBD Relief is in place.”

    There are maps available showing the proposed connexions at George/Hay Sts, (I think the proposal is to link the west to north legs of the intersection) but I cannot find them. There would be no problems in connecting tracks in George and Hay Streets. City of Sydney maps show single track connexions in George Street from both directions turning east into Hay Street, so there would be no problem with a double track connexion to the existing Hay Street tracks. Services from the Colonnade to CQ via George Street would ameliorate the likely overloading of trams from the SE as they reach the city – addition of rail passengers onto already overloaded trams would not be welcomed – far better to adopt Greg’s suggestion.

  20. Tom says:

    New tracks are needed through the city primarily because the capacity in the city dictates the level of service everywhere else and service elsewhere really needs to be improved to solve the crowding and delay issues. Also – it isn’t power that’s the problem – it’s the braking, particularly on the long decline into Wynyard.
    You may be able to improve service levels on the North Shore and the NWRL, but you wouldn’t do anything for the rest of the city. The new tram system to me doesn’t seem like it’s particularly fast – it more designed as a local system on George (with closely spaced stops) so that people get off at Central or Town Hall or whatever and transfer to get closer to their destination.
    I just think you would get so little bang for the enormous money you’d have to spend on getting those second sets of tracks back on the bridge and into Wynyard.

    Simon – you don’t seem willing to consider alternatives to the current set up anyways so eh. “My solution” is one of many possible answers – it probably isn’t the right one, but it deals with your concerns about the Western Line by utilising that fairly expensive Y-link and stopping the Inner West line at Homebush.

    If you actually read the document, you will see how they’re talking about having T2 occupy one set of track only to Parramatta and to the South Line with all trains being locals, and T1 occupying the other to Parramatta and all trains being expresses to Strathfield then city.
    This way you can boost frequency on both lines by removing all the cross trains and different running patterns.

  21. Tim says:

    For those interested the possibility of reinstating the tram platforms for terminating trains at Wynyard were extensive discussed in this paper from 2011.

    Central city railway capacity – making better use of existing infrastructure
    Kym Norley
    http://www.atrf.info/papers/2011/2011_Norley.pdf

    Seemed like a reasonable plan to me.

  22. Anthony says:

    Bambul,

    The light rail proposal is being advocated to link Parramatta and Olympic Park not to service the areas in between – which are mostly industrial areas of Silverwater and Camelia.
    Even allowing for the redevelopment of Camellia with high density apartments, it is difficult to believe a rapid busway could not meet the transport needs of this area. As a comparison the SE Busway in Brisbane services a large region of southern Brisbane and effectively meets the transport needs there.
    I am concerned light rail is being proposed here not because it is the more effective transport option but because it is seen to be more attractive in glossy brochures and videos. Light rail is expensive compared to buses and busways provide similar services although light rail can hold more people.

  23. Simon F says:

    On the roads – lately I have been travelling down King Georges Rd alot more than previously – particularly on the stretch between Forest Rd and South Hurstville – seeing the scattered vacant blocks of banked land for a long forgotten upgrade makes me wonder if anything will ever happen and if maybe, instead of a big infrastructure wet dream that westconnex seems to be – why not put a little less into making the A3 corridor flow better, such as around Arthur St in Homebush/Strathfield and maybe even finishing off the 3×3 lanes between Forest Rd and South Hurstville – if that’s not seen as required – sell the vacant blocks off, with real estate values around here – that will help somewhere surely?
    I’m sure there are other ‘forgotten’ road widening schemes elsewhere in Sydney where surely time has come to either finish off what was started back in the day or sell off the the acquired blocks

    I disagree with the premise that the former government did the ‘wrong’ thing with the M4, as far as I see it, the BOOT had come to an end and therefore the right thing occured

  24. Simon says:

    Thanks so much for that link Tim! I hadn’t seen that before.

  25. Simon says:

    Simon F, I’d wonder how much of the King Georges Rd traffic is people heading between the M4 & M5 on the way to the airport. More needs to be done to promote PT to the airport.

  26. MrV says:

    I want to see a cost benefit on all Light Rail projects versus new metro. If you include the costs of shutdowns and disruptions for Light Rail, metro would be quite competitive and far better for long term connectivity options.

  27. Ray says:

    @Tom –

    I haven’t missed the point Tom. The point is that the proposed expenditure of $1 billion on the Western Line upgrade, which I presume also includes the Northern Line, is a paltry amount compared with what is actually needed. It’s a half baked solution which takes the easy option of terminating Western/Northern services at Sydney Terminal instead of constructing the city relief line, or at least committing to it in the longer term, from Eveleigh to Wynyard and preferably to Barangaroo Central. The Labor policy is equally deficient. Terminating more suburban services at Sydney Terminal is only going to exacerbate the congestion problem for interchanging passengers continuing their journeys into the central CBD. After all, the whole premise for the city underground railway was to avoid this (transferring to trams at the time).

    A second harbour crossing which now appears to be inevitable if it actually proceeds, as an extension of the North West Rapid Transit, does absolutely nothing to increase capacity from the existing Northern and North Shore Lines as it exclusively services a completely new line from the North West. In fact the reverse is the case, as all upper Northern Line services will have to be re-routed via Strathfield, adding to the congestion on that corridor to the CBD. Its proposed extension to a converted Bankstown Line, which is one of the most underutilised lines on the network anyway, is not justified even if it does release paths on the City Circle. An integrated heavy rail crossing would have provided far more capacity increase to the existing network where it’s needed. The Bankstown Line certainly doesn’t need it.

  28. @Ray –

    Leaked internal Transport for NSW documents suggest building new dives around Redfern could link the T1 Northern Line to the City Circle. This would definitely unlock capacity on the T1 Line citybound from the West, probably about an extra 8 Trains Per Hour into the CBD. That would be on top of what I’m guessing is 4-8 TPH into Sydney Terminal.

    Of course, if this doesn’t happen, then it will see a reduction of capacity via Starthfield due to the re routing of Upper Northern Line trains. However, I would question he impact of this due to (1) the ability to interchange at Epping, and (2) loading a North of Epping are modest compared to South of Epping.

  29. Ray says:

    @Bambul –

    You may be referring to an earlier document. In the most recent document dated October 2014, “Sydney’s Rail Future – 2021 Demand Assessment on the 2019 Reference Case”, obtained under Freedom of Information by the SMH, it states that in the scenario including a second harbour crossing and extending the rapid transit to Bankstown, the removal of the Bankstown Line from the City Circle enables an increase in services on the South & Inner West and Airport & East Hills Lines. It also suggests that on the Western Line there would be 10tph to the CBD and Harbour Bridge and 5tph from Penrith to Sydney Terminal. For the Northern Line, it would be 5tph from Hornsby and 5tph from Epping to the CBD and Harbour Bridge. That excludes Intercity services. Good citizens of Beecroft and Cheltenham, you need not fret.

  30. QPP says:

    >>A second harbour crossing which now appears to be inevitable if it actually proceeds, as an extension of the North West Rapid Transit, does absolutely nothing to increase capacity from the existing Northern and North Shore Lines as it exclusively services a completely new line from the North West. In fact the reverse is the case, as all upper Northern Line services will have to be re-routed via Strathfield, adding to the congestion on that corridor to the CBD. Its proposed extension to a converted Bankstown Line, which is one of the most underutilised lines on the network anyway, is not justified even if it does release paths on the City Circle. An integrated heavy rail crossing would have provided far more capacity increase to the existing network where it’s needed. The Bankstown Line certainly doesn’t need it.<<

    Ray, your logic only holds water if you maintain the weird Sydney insistence on a single seat journey. Otherwise a high frequency rapid transit line, interconnecting with two other lines north of the harbour, assuredly does increase capacity.

    I live in Wahroonga. When the SHC is on stream, am I going to be prepared to hop off the train at Chatswood and cross the platform to an SRT train that will make the ongoing journey into the CBD more quickly than staying on the North Shore train I've come in on? You bet. 2 minute frequencies at peak, remember.

    Same goes for the Beecroft-ites. They can whinge about 5tph, ending at Sydney terminal, or they can change at Epping and get on an SRT train that will take them into the CBD faster and smoother

  31. Tom says:

    I agree that a new pair of track into the city is needed for the Western Line. But not right now. There are easy, achievable solutions that don’t cost a feck load to significantly improve capacity, including streamlining T2 and T1 through Strathfield and cutting down on all the numerous running patterns. Passengers do not as of right “deserve” a seat to themselves or a single seat ride from where they live to where they work – they’re taking public transport and not even paying the full cost of their journey!

    In the mean time, the best way to get extra space on the trains is to lengthen stations and send the longer trains into ST where they can interchange with the frequent rapid transit. I would much prefer to be on a longer train with a seat and not be too crowded and then interchange to the SRT at Central for a short period of time, even if I have to stand.

    Having the second harbour crossing use the current double deck format is troublesome in several ways. One is to make the grades, you would likely have to have the tunnels under the city so deep, that escalators could not be built. You would have to build a bunch of high speed high capacity elevators and you would still end up with crowd management problems. And the other is those two doors. You could try the French RER solution, but it means you end up with the same floor space anyways (because the stairs take up so much room) and I think RER carriages are longer in length.

  32. Dudley Horscroft says:

    Re Tom, 23rd at 1530

    I concur that it should be feasible to improve capacities on the Western lines by better operation at Sydney Terminal. I refer all to “A Regional History of Railways of Great Britain” Vol 3 Greater London. On page 184/5, referring to Liverpool Street, it says:

    “By the use of engine spurs at the platform ends, and turnover locomotives, platform occupation could be cut to 4 minutes if the train could be loaded that quickly, and in practice a train entered each platform every 10 minutes. Seating was increased by 50 to 75 percent, and on the down suburban track 24 trains an hour could be run, representing 20,350 passenger seats. This has been claimed to have been more than any contemporary electric system could have dealt with. Strictly in terms of seats this is probably true, but in 1936 passengers were being carried at the rate of 27,000 an hour west-bound through Charing Cross (District) and 26,000 an hour on one track of the Northern line. But the GER tour de force enabled 51 trains to leave between 5.0 and 6.0 p.m., most in the charge of a diminutive but voraciously pugnacious tank engine, 27 for the Hackney Downs line, 8 for the Loughton line and 16 for Ilford and beyond.”

    Note there are only 6 tracks leading to and from the station.

    If the Poms could do this 90 years ago, we should be able to do better now.

    Improving the service should be possible now, even if it is necessary to bring back some of the four car sets recently taken out of service. Longer trains will have to await platform lengthening at Strathfield and Parramatta, perhaps Penrith.

    Re tunnel depth in the city and grades. The DMR design manual recommends a maximum gradient of 3.5% – this would be very comfortable with the Waratah sets. The cross harbour does not need to go much deeper than the road tunnel, and then only if the CHRT crossed right at the peak of a shoal..Otherwise the rail tunnel could be at the same level. A rail tunnel would probably start just south of St Leonards, and go direct to a Sydney CBD station, omitting W, W, NS and MP. Thus gradients would not be particularly high, and eminently acceptable for the new double deck stock. Improvements to dwell time in Sydney could be made by adding extra doors over the bogies, and in any case the CBD station could be bifurcated, so that dwell time would be far less relevant.

    Re escalators, following is details re large escalators from Wikipaedia:

    The Kiev Metro Kreschatik station’s lower-level second exit escalator (a type ЛТ-2, circa 1965), lifts riders 65.7 metres (216 ft), or 743 steps, up a 131.4-metre (431 ft) – long incline.[citation needed]
    In the Park Pobedy station of the Moscow Metro, the escalators are 126.8 m (416 ft) or 740 steps long, and 63.4 m (208 ft) high. It takes three minutes to transit.
    Three stations in Saint Petersburg Metro have escalators up to 138 m (453 ft) long and 69 m (226 ft) high: Ploshchad Lenina, Chernyshevskaya, and Admiralteyskaya.

    Tim, thank you for the reference. But note that the authori did not think of taking the bridge tracks back, just using platforms 1 and 4 for three trains, with 2 and 3 for terminal tracks. Not necessarily the best solution.

  33. > Passengers do not as of right “deserve” a seat to themselves or a single seat ride from where they
    > live to where they work – they’re taking public transport and not even paying the full cost of their
    > journey!

    There is a very good reason to try and achieve single seat rides though: it’s significantly cheaper to provide.

    There is no way around this: if a PAX needs 2 seats on 2 vehicles to complete a journey that could be completed with a single vehicle, the transport provider has to provide twice as many vehicles to provide the journey.

    Hub and spoke, with the primary destination at the hub is the most efficient network topology, and by some margin. But this government we’re talking about, so efficient allocation of capital is not their priority.

  34. Ray says:

    Thanks Tim for that very informative link to Kym Norley’s paper.

    I agree that it makes a lot of sense and it’s a shame that our rail planners didn’t give it the attention it deserved at the time.

    Unfortunately, with the incompatible North West Rapid Transit no longer able to utilize the existing tracks across the Bridge and its inevitable extension across the harbour via the second rail crossing, the demand on the North Shore Line alone is unlikely to exceed 20tph and would not justify the need or expense to incorporate the unused Wynyard platforms as suggested in the paper. Pity.

  35. Ray says:

    @Simon F –

    <>

    There are many proposed widenings and missing links, particularly in the inner and middle ring suburbs, where land has either been acquired or zoned for future upgrades. Some examples are:

    – Completion of widening of Mona Vale Rd from Terrey Hills to Mona Vale (A3);

    – Completion of widening of King Georges Rd from Beverly Hills to South Hurstville (A3);

    – Widening of Frederick St Ashfield between Parramatta Rd and Liverpool Rd;

    – Widening and re-construction of intersections from Anzac Pde Moore Park to the Princes Hwy
    St Peters via Dacey Ave, Lachlan St, McEvoy St, Euston Rd and Sydney Park Rd;

    – Construction of the Eastwood County Rd from North Ryde to Dundas which would form part of
    an upgraded transport corridor, for both road and light rail, between Macquarie Park and
    Parramatta.

    In recent years these projects have not attracted any funding because they don’t fit the privatisation model such as that for the more glamorous major motorway developments.

  36. Ray says:

    @QPP –

    I doubt if Sydney commuters would accept changing trains to reach the Sydney CBD. Changing to reach cross regional destinations is a different matter entirely and I think most people would accept that.

    Assuming that the North West Rapid Transit is extended across the harbour to the CBD, why would you bother changing from the Northern Line at Epping or the North Shore Line at Chatswood to the rapid transit service and more than likely give up a seat to complete your journey standing. The time difference in the case of the North Shore Line would be marginal and in the case of the Northern Line it has been estimated that in fact it would be 14 minutes faster to Central if you changed from the rapid transit at Epping to a Newcastle/Central Coast Intercity service via Strathfield and about the same by an all stations suburban service. There’s no benefit whatsoever for Northern and North Shore Line commuters.

    On another point, the Sydney’s Rail Future report which I referred to in an earlier post, states that all Northern Line suburban services (5tph starting from Hornsby and 5tph from Epping in the morning peak) would run through the CBD to the Harbour Bridge. In addition 5 Intercity trains would terminate at Central.

  37. Simon says:

    Dudley, one wonders at your comprehension ability.

    What you are saying is that because the Poms could do it with six tracks, we ought to be able to do it with two.

    Tom, there are not!

  38. QPP says:

    >>I doubt if Sydney commuters would accept changing trains to reach the Sydney CBD. Changing to reach cross regional destinations is a different matter entirely and I think most people would accept that.

    Assuming that the North West Rapid Transit is extended across the harbour to the CBD, why would you bother changing from the Northern Line at Epping or the North Shore Line at Chatswood to the rapid transit service and more than likely give up a seat to complete your journey standing. The time difference in the case of the North Shore Line would be marginal and in the case of the Northern Line it has been estimated that in fact it would be 14 minutes faster to Central if you changed from the rapid transit at Epping to a Newcastle/Central Coast Intercity service via Strathfield and about the same by an all stations suburban service. There’s no benefit whatsoever for Northern and North Shore Line commuters.<<

    I've just told you I'd be quite happy to change

    Why? Because I fully expect the SRT from Chatswood to the CBD to be a fair bit quicker (not the "marginal" difference you claim) as it will only be stopping at 2 or 3 stations into the CBD rather than the 6 the Shore does, because it will be on a much less compromised alignment where the line speed will probably be 100kph rather than the 50 (actual maximum given stops about 30-40) around the Wollstonecraft curves, because the train will accelerate and decelerate quicker, and the dwell time should be less and certainly more controlled and reliable. And I expect the train to be quieter and smoother. And the change at Chatswood couldn't be easier – get off, cross the platform, get on.

    The trip from Chatswood to Wynyard takes 19 minutes by DD train. I doubt SRT will take longer than 10 for the same sort of distance. Hardly a "marginal" improvement

    I don't really give a stuff about having a seat – I rarely get one now in the evening anyway, so I'm pretty sure I can hack 10 minutes standing up.

    As for Northern Line passengers? Well your comment says it all: Intercity trains to *central* will be quicker – so that will be a good choice for people from the Upper Northern Line, if they're headed for the southern end of the CBD. About the same to *central* via suburban, or SRT means that to the northern part of the CBD it will be quicker via SRT

    So there will be an advantage there for people heading to the north side of the CBD

    It's ridiculous to suggest there's "no benefit whatsoever" or no capacity increase when there is clearly a capacity increase and the benefit is dependent on your PoV. If you are intrested in fastest possible journey and don't mind a change, then use the SRT, if you are more interested in keeping your single seat journey, you can do that too. The only people who are disadvantaged are Upper Northern Line commuters who insist on a single seat journey to the northern part of the CBD

    You can't see through your own bias against the whole concept of the SRT

  39. QPP says:

    >>There is a very good reason to try and achieve single seat rides though: it’s significantly cheaper to provide.

    There is no way around this: if a PAX needs 2 seats on 2 vehicles to complete a journey that could be completed with a single vehicle, the transport provider has to provide twice as many vehicles to provide the journey.

    Hub and spoke, with the primary destination at the hub is the most efficient network topology, and by some margin. But this government we’re talking about, so efficient allocation of capital is not their priority.<<

    True, BUT:

    a) in the case of your second paragraph, having to provide 2 vehicles to cover that one journey is the case but it doesn't follow that twice as many vehicles need to be provided to cover all journeys. But yes, it does require more

    b) Hub & Spoke being efficient depends on there only being one hub to all intents and purposes; one could argue this is still the case in Sydney, but it is changing. Not all journeys are to the CBD any more
    c) If H&S is the most efficient network topology, then it makes Sydney Trains' farbeox recovery percentage look even more abysmal than it already does
    d) Efficiency is one thing: Beyond a certain size one starts to be constrained by the capacity of the spokes nearest the hub and the ability to get sufficient throughput to serve all the outer spokes decently. Many would argue Sydney is already beyond this limiting point and a new inner spoke of some sort into or through the hub is essential.

  40. QPP says:

    I meant to add: The critical weakness of the Sydney system IMO from experience of rail systems elsewhere is frequency, or lack of it.

  41. JC says:

    @QPP – I’m not sure I agree. Reliability and infromation for the non-regular and non-CBD focused use are up there. But frequency is a big issue.

    In my view to get people moving on PT, frequency is the main issue (and despite the views of the suburbans who contribute to this blog) changing vehicles/modes and gettig a seat are less of an issue if it is a genuine turn up and go service. The system designers need to start with the frequency and then choose the mode. BRT, LR, light-metro at 1-5 min headways wuill always be preferred to heavy rail or metro at 15-30 minutes. This has been proved in the heavy to light rail conversions in the UK (Manchester, Newcastle, Croyden) and Melbourne.

  42. > a) in the case of your second paragraph, having to provide 2 vehicles to cover that one journey is
    > the case but it doesn’t follow that twice as many vehicles need to be provided to cover all journeys.
    > But yes, it does require more

    It shouldn’t require twice as many vehicles, but in the case of interchanging at Epping or Chatswood, it does! :-)

    > b) Hub & Spoke being efficient depends on there only being one hub to all intents and purposes;
    > one could argue this is still the case in Sydney, but it is changing. Not all journeys are to the CBD
    > any more

    Having the hub at the largest employment centre/journey destination point increases efficiency *because* it maximises the number of one seat trips. In the case of Sydney, the CBD – even though it’s importance is decreasing – is by a factor of 5 the largest single employment zone in the city. And then it’s Nth Sydney second and daylight third.

    Further, Sydney CBD has (by far) the highest penetration of PT use (because there is no affordable parking), and of that PT use rail has the biggest relative share.

    And yes, cross links are important IMHO. But if the hub is at the point of largest demand, then the cross links are always going to have less utilisation that the main spokes. In my view, rail is the right mode for these major structural routes, but probably not for the cross links.

    > c) If H&S is the most efficient network topology, then it makes Sydney Trains’ farbeox recovery
    > percentage look even more abysmal than it already does

    Sydney’s poor cost recovery occures for many reasons. Not enough interchanging is not one of them. Neither is the train’s having too high a capacity either.

  43. Ray says:

    @QPP –

    You may well be happy to change at Chatswood to the SRT, but I’m sure most commuters from the upper North Shore wouldn’t be bothered. What’s the point when they’re already on a train heading for basically the same destination and probably in more comfort? It’s a different situation if you’re actually boarding a train at Chatswood, then you have a choice.

    For upper Northern Line commuters, apart from Hornsby, Newcastle/Central Coast trains don’t stop at the intermediate stations to Epping, so your comment about them having to interchange at Central to continue into the northern CBD is irrelevant. As I mentioned earlier, the latest report proposes that ALL Northern Line trains, starting from both Hornsby and Epping in the peak (5tph from Hornsby and 5tph from Epping), will run through the CBD to the Harbour Bridge. The Hornsby starters are likely to revert to the previous semi express timetable from Epping (before the ECRL) meaning that there would be negligible time difference in reaching the northern CBD compared with the SRT. The timing I mentioned earlier was for an all stations service. Even then, you can get on an empty train starting at Epping. Again I say, why would you bother catching the SRT, unless you’re already on it from the north west.

    I’m not biased against the rapid transit concept. I think it has its place. But I am biased against its application to the North West Rail Link, which when push comes to shove and no matter what spin the government likes to put on it, is essentially an outer suburban rail line servicing a low density corridor. It’s not appropriate in this instance.

  44. Greg says:

    @ttr99

    “It shouldn’t require twice as many vehicles, but in the case of interchanging at Epping or Chatswood, it does! :-)”

    You keep mentioning this as if it is fact, but it is demonstrably wrong.

    The latest leaked document of stopping patterns and demand post 2019 shows that 6tph will start at Lindfield and 6tph will start at Gordon. These will join 8tph that come from Hornsby and beyond.

    This replaces 12tph that currently come from Hornby and beyond, 4tph from Gordon and 4tph via the ECRL.

    If we compare these, the 4tph from Hornsby via the ECRL change path to the city to go via Strathfield, with roughly equivalent travel time/service km. Then the 2 peak hour Epping to Central semi fast services become the extra 2 trains to push it to 10tph to cater to growth on the line – a little extra from a service km basis, but something that would need to happen with or without the NWRL due to patronage growth.

    This leave the existing 16tph on the North Shore line – 12tph from Honsby and beyond, and 4tph Gordon starters. 4tph of the Hornsby starters actually then become Gordon starters – reducing service kms, and then the 4tph Gordon starters become 2tph Gordon starters and 2tph Lindfield starters – a further reduction in service kms. 4tph of new Lindfield starters then rounds out the 20tph stopping pattern – starting only 2 stations, or 6 minutes before Chatswood where the bulk of the demand lies due to the NWRL interchange.

    Now let’s presume for a minute that the NWRL was double deck. The rest of the stopping pattern would stay as is planned in the 2019 document, but 6tph would probably run initially from the NWRL to the CBD, replacing the 6tph Lindfield starters. You would avoid 6 round trips from Chatswood to Lindfield each hour. Say each round trip is 20 minutes (generous) then a grand total of 2 extra sets is required to support the NWRL over and above the requirements for the NWRL itself (which can’t be directly compared in such a simplistic manner due to the interface between project, rolling stock, and operating costs over the life of the line).

  45. QPP says:

    >>Sydney’s poor cost recovery occures for many reasons. Not enough interchanging is not one of them. Neither is the train’s having too high a capacity either<<

    Yup. High staff costs in operations, engineering and maintenance is a big factor. All of which are addressed by the SRT concept

  46. QPP says:

    @Ray: I think Sydney commuters will be more willing to change trains than you think.

    More than half of them (like me) will have experienced life elsewhere with transit systems where changing and standing are just a part of getting around. I think speed and convenience are the most important factors to most commuters rather than being able to sit in one seat (not that you can always do that in Sydney anyway, of course; plenty of trains are standing room only)

    As above, the most important thing to me about SRT is frequency. When you’re used to transit systems that have as little as 1.5 minutes between trains and maximum 5, waiting for 10-15 minutes for trains in Sydney gets old very quickly

  47. @greg – “… The latest leaked document of stopping patterns and demand post 2019 …” Could you please post a link or something for it? I’d like to read it before commenting.

  48. @greg OK, sorry, I see you were quoting a link previously posted.

    > This leave the existing 16tph on the North Shore line – 12tph from Honsby and beyond, and 4tph
    > Gordon starters. 4tph of the Hornsby starters actually then become Gordon starters – reducing
    > service kms, and then the 4tph Gordon starters become 2tph Gordon starters and 2tph Lindfield
    > starters – a further reduction in service kms. 4tph of new Lindfield starters then rounds out the
    > 20tph stopping pattern – starting only 2 stations, or 6 minutes before Chatswood where the bulk of
    > the demand lies due to the NWRL interchange.

    My understanding is they can’t realistically turn more than 4tph at any one of these turnbacks, at least while they are using 15 minute 3minx5pattern cycles. To do more means you need to have at least some arrivals and turns at 6min intervals. (ie 4tph is 15, and a turn in between these is between either 3 & 12 min or 6 and 9min from the preceeding/following turn). 6min might be a possible tight turn, *if* the train didn’t have to sync/wait for a slot in the UP timetable.

    Turning trains at both Gordon & Lindfield is sort of posible, but these stations are timetabled 4 min apart, or 8min up and back (probably 7&1/2, or exactly half a 15min pattern). If we say 9min (basically slow all the trains on the segment down a bit – it’s been done before :-)) then it’s possible to have a timetable sequence like:

    DOWN: – L – G – H – H – H – L – G – H – H – H – L – G – H …
    UP: – L – H – H – H – G – L – H – H – H – G – L – H – H

    (There are 2 other ways to do this I think)

    This works, but is potentially quite unstable as it requires the L & G terminaters to maintain a fairly precise 12 min separation, with 3 intervening trains.

    There are other possibilities too: essentially non repeating patterns. But in my view, 8 is the maximum number of trains that could be realistically turned during the AM peak using the existing turnback facilities. And even then, I think not without producing timetable instability.

    When I’ve done my back of the evelope calcs on comparing operational patterns, I usually assume 16tph Chatswood to Hornsby, with 4 magically turned at Chatswood. I know that’s not right, but – especially given the necessary hypothesising involved – is a reasonable approximation.

    For capacity reasons, sure, 8tph from Hornsby is fine. But it’s not about PAX capacity, it’s about running and turning those extra empty trains, create by the need to interchange.

    My view is to do this efficiently means the construction of a new UP facing double track turnback, preferably at Chatswood, but upgrading the turnback to Lindfield would work also.

  49. I’m sort of comming around to the view that the “right” way to deal with the NWRL is to move the interchange back to Epping.

    As I see it, there is little downside to this.

    + As outlined in previous posts, I think this won’t cost RailCorp any more to service the ECL. The costs will be more or less the same.
    + The NWRL will only need half the fleet and need to operate half the service KM, and will most definitely be cheaper to operate. (Whether the taxpayer gets any benefit from this is another matter).
    + Someone will benefit from not having to convert the ECL to the NWRL format.
    + The interchange stress point will be moved upstream meaning less interchanges will be required, at an albeit less capable facility.
    + It is vaguely possible (though highly undesirable) for (some) upper-northern line trains to still use the ECL, eliminating one of the problems with the current plan. But I’d suggest running 4 car shuttles Hornsby – Epping might work just as well, though this would need a new crossover installed to work.
    – People travelling from the Hills to Macquarie Park will need to interchange when they otherwise wouldn’t have. … but …
    + The above is offset by everyone else travling to Macquarie Park will have one less interchange.

  50. QPP says:

    OK, so where would you terminate and turn back the NWRL trains? And what infrastructure would be required to support that?

  51. Greg says:

    @ttr – interesting idea, but it only works if you want to see the whole thing never go anywhere (which is why I wouldn’t support it as I am a big SRT supporter based on the evidence available). Moving the interchange to Epping (assuming you find somewhere to terminate the services) will also result in a slower journey to the CBD for NWRL users both pre and post Sydney Harbor Rail Crossing.

    SRT is expected to be 10% faster than existing rolling stock, cutting the 17 minute Epping to Chatswood journey to 15 minutes. It also takes away the easy cross platform interchange and frequent connecting services. Overall, it probably would add 5-10 minutes (depending on connection time) to a CBD bound trip – and that’s just post 2019. Post SH tunnel it then gets worse – the trip from Chatswood to CBD is expected to run at 12 minutes on SRT vs 20 on Sydney Trains. This is possible not only because of the shorter dwells, faster acceleration and new horizontal alignment, but also because of the new vertical alignment due to the higher maximum grades allowed for the new format. The benefit then continues when the vertical alignment can allow the stations to be closer to the surface, further reducing travel time by reducing the time it takes for passengers to reach the surface and their destination.

    It seems the whole concept has been designed with passenger convenience in mind – a refreshing change.

    Regarding the turn back capacity at Gordon and Lindfield, I don’t think 6tph would be an issue (10 minute turnarounds) and I’m just going on what they propose in their document, but I get your point about repeating patterns. They could fix it by going to 5 x 12 minute patterns as they seem to have done on every other line – 10tph from Hornsby and beyond, 5tph from each of Gordon and Lindfield.

  52. Greg says:

    Looking to the future and taking a further look at interchange times, I have decided to compare future SRT CBD line travel time’s vs terminating and interchanging at Epping to Sydney Trains.

    SRT travel time:

    Epping to Chatswood – 15 minutes
    Chatswood to Martin Place – 12 minutes (Sydney Rail Future document)
    Epping to Martin Place – 27 minutes
    Epping to Central – 33 minutes (Assuming 3 minutes to Town Hall Square and then 3 minutes to Central)

    Sydney Trains travel time:

    Epping to Chatswood – 17 minutes
    Epping to Wynyard (via Chatswood) – 36 minutes
    Epping to Wynyard (via Strathfield, Semi fast) – 37 minutes
    Epping to Central (via Chatswood) – 44 minutes
    Epping to Central (via Stratfield, intercity express) – 27 minutes

    If someone comes from the NWRL it pretty much always makes sense to stay on the train if going to the city. It might make sense to change to intercity service if you are going to Central, depending on the interchange time (6 minute interchange time being the break-even point). It would make sense to change at Epping if heading to Redfern given the SRT won’t stop there.

    On the other hand, someone from the Central Coast or Newcastle heading to Wynyard who would have to change at Central anyway will almost always be better off changing at Epping for an SRT service – probably taking 8 minutes off their trip.

    People from the Upper Northern Line might save time to Wynyard on SRT too – this depends on how long it takes them to change at Epping. If it takes under 10 minutes to interchange, they save time, with a 10 minute interchange time being the break-even point (27 minutes vs 37 minutes).

    Now all of the above goes out the door if the SRT is never extended past Chatswood as the travel times from Epping to Wynyard via Chatswood with interchange to Sydney Trains and via Stratfield on Sydney Trains are pretty even (although the interchange at Chatswood is physically much easier and has more frequent service to change to).

  53. > OK, so where would you terminate and turn back the NWRL trains?
    RailCorp on the UP ECL platform
    NWRL on the DOWN ECL platform

    > And what infrastructure would be required to support that?
    A facing crossover

  54. QPP says:

    So a crossover on the NWRL N of Epping would be required, with a mined cavern to accommodate it?

    What do you do with the down trains travelling on the up ECRL on to the Upper Northern Line? New crossover to take them across to the Down Main, or use the existing one north of the M2?

    What does this result in, in terms of available frequencies/capacities on:
    a) Upper Northern Line , trains via ECRL
    b) Upper Northern Line, trains via Strathfield (inc intercity/interurban services)
    c) Freight in the Up direction on the Main North (down would be unaffected)
    d) NWRL

    Thanks

  55. > So a crossover on the NWRL N of Epping would be required
    Yes, that’s what I said.

    > What do you do with the down trains travelling on the up ECRL on to the Upper Northern Line?
    What is going to happen with the ECL is converted to RT?

  56. QPP says:

    Upper Northern line trains will travel via Strathfield, no? ie just stay on the Up Main/Down Main

    The first current planned crossover on NWRL is at Castle Hill fwiw. I imagine you’d need it a lot closer than that to Epping, so new cavern required to be mined. Not sure where – the tunnels are diving and curving from Epping quite sharply to get under the ECRL Down dive and then Devlin’s Creek with maximum cover before climbing towards Cherrybrook

  57. QPP says:

    Also still very interested in what the ultimate capacities for the lines identified are in your scenario. As against the “do nothing” scenario which is allow the NWRL contracts to be completed

  58. @QPP – To be honest, this isn’t much more than a thought bubble and I haven’t really thought through what the practical limits would be. I’ve also no idea of the alignments of the ECL/PRL/NWRL stubs, I presumed they were between the UP and DOWN connectors to the main – possible even completely parallel. I kinda assumed there would be a crossover there anyway, but not sure why.

    That said, the fully automated NWRL should be able to turn a train in the near the same time as a regular dwell, it’s just the clearance time back to the crossover that’ll reduce headway compared with a full turnback.

    It’s turning RailCorp trains quickly on a single platform terminus that’s the biggest issue. They would need a long dwell with a transfer loading anyway. Without relay drivers you are probably looking at a 4min dwell, which would mean a 6min maximum headway, or 10tph & ~10k pax/hr.

    I also think it would be possible to run up to 4tph through the ECL with only one platform (and releasing those slots back to the western line), but it’s hugely problematic as QPP has pointed out. To keep the timetable running smoothly you can’t have ECL trains prevented from turning due to delays on the main north. From the Upper Northern/ECL line point of view, it’s the equivalent of having 1000m of single track on the route. From the perspective of the main north, it’s like an opposing flat junction, albeit a 400m long one.

    Like I said, it’s just thought bubble.

    @Greg – Your comment on travel times hits a sore spot with me. I think this is one of the ways RailCorp is particularly inefficient, and it’s done deliberately so to make the timetables more reliable. TfNSW want to address timetable adherance by aboloshing timetables. But that effectively means abolishing branching (at least to the extent that’s needed in Sydney), and running high frrequency services on low volume routes, or route sections. This is a spectacularly inefficient way to run a transport system.

    Anyway, my view is it would be far better if the second crossing were built in heavy rail – certainly from the south side’s perspective. I don’t think the second crossing needs a stop at Nth Sydney either, though I agree it would be preferable.

  59. Greg says:

    @ttr I agree with you regarding travel times – Sydney Trains should absolutely be operating faster. But it is not all padding – you are still going to see about 10% better travel times with a single deck format using ATO vs our current rolling stock operated the way they currently are over the same track. The 10% comparison is like-for-like, such as ECRL and NWRL. If you introduced ATO on the new DD line you would reduce the difference, but you would still be slower than the single deck option – purely because of dwell time and acceleration. While the A and M sets could perform much better if they were under ATO and were the only rolling stock on a particular route, they are still going to have dwell problems on heavily utilised routes that will impact travel time and frequency.

    That said, and while I agree that most Sydney Trains services are too slow, having a realistic timetable with some recovery time and sticking to it is absolutely necessary for low frequency services. They should either be turn-up-and-go running as fast as possible (preference) or timetabled and reliable for lower frequency (fall back). They could do this even just for the peak across a lot of routes. The branching complicates things since you want it to be reliable to the timetable on the branches, and as fast and frequent as possible on the trunk. You could solve this running the trunk as turn-up-and-go, with the branches as a reliably timetabled shuttle.

    One example of a line that would provide fantastic network wide benefits if sped up as fast as possible would be the South/Inner West line. If we sped this up by 10% we could run every service stopping at every stop from Ashfield inwards and achieve 20tph capacity along that section into the City Circle. Think the following:

    – 5tph Ashfiled to CBD all stations
    – 5tph Liverpool (or Leppington) to CBD semi fast to Ashfield then all stations
    – 5tph Liverpool to CBD all stations to Granville, semi fast to Ashfield then all stations (or, if you prefer, just all stations all the way)
    – 5tph Parramatta to CBD all stations

    Repeat pattern every 12 minutes

    The Ashfield starters allow the Liverpool services to gain 3 minutes on the Parramatta services, but once you are inwards from Ashfield all services need to stop at all stations, and for that we need to speed operations. My back of the envelope calculations are that if you could speed this sector up by 10% across the board by use of all A/M sets, improved speed in some sections and improved dwell management (the simplified inner west stopping pattern would help with dwell) then you could achieve a similar 50 minute travel time from Liverpool to the CBD as the current semi-fast service, despite the extra stops.

    This is something that either Labor or Liberal would have to grapple with post-election as it will likely form a large part of the Western Sydney Rail Upgrade overall operating pattern, but probably mostly the Liberals post SRT as Labor would see Bankstown line trains sharing the City Circle with South/Inner West line trains, creating gaps that can support a mixed service in the Inner West and allowing problems like the above to be pushed off for another day.

    Don’t take my support for the SRT to mean that I don’t want to see improvements across the board – the reason I support the SRT is exactly because of the benefits that it will allow to flow across the whole system, while also providing a high quality rapid transit transport arc across the city along a route that takes in a large proportion of Sydney’s employment, and over the coming decades a growing proportion of Sydney’s population. People will be able to live anywhere from Rouse Hill to Bankstown and access jobs and education along the entire arc – expect a lot of medium and high density development along this line!

  60. @Greg – I think ATO, depending on what type, would deliver a much greater than 10% increase in line speed. Many of the speed boards in Sydney are based on signal spacing and/or signal visibility rather than alignment.

    But the other way of reducing travel times is to reduce the number of stops a service makes. You’ll find this makes a much bigger difference than accelleration or dwells (though the effect is more pronounced with longer dwell/slower a vehicles). But for that you need more stopping patterns, and for that you need a timetable.

    As I see it, RT introduces two new real efficiencies to rail in Sydney, those being
    – better labour productivity
    – better signalling efficiency

    But in almost every other way, the new format is less efficient and less capable of solving the transport problems Sydney has.

  61. Ray says:

    Now that rolling stock and equipment reliability is much improved, it’s time that services reverted to the previous faster timetable prior to the slowdown introduced by Labor.

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