This week in transport (1 March 2015)

Posted: March 2, 2015 in Transport
Tags: , , , , ,

VIDEO: Public Transport, Malcolm Turnbull (May 2007)

Monday: Light rail to Olympic Park could pay for itself

A new light rail line from Parramatta to Sydney Olympic Park could be paid for by raising $2.9bn in voluntary developer levies along the “Olympic Corridor”. The proposal has been raised by the WestLine Partnership, an alliance of business and local government groups representing interests between Parramatta and Sydney Olympic Park. Both the NSW Government and Opposition have committed to building at least one of four short listed light rail lines from Parramatta if they are elected to office. Though a line from Parramatta to Macquarie Park was initially seen as the most likely, a line from Parramatta to Olympic Park is now firming up as the favourite. It was mentioned specifically by Opposition Leader Luke Foley, and has also received the backing of Western Sydney Business Chamber Director David Borger.

Parramatta City Council's proposed 4 light rail lines. Click to enlarge. (Source: Western Sydney Light Rail Network: Part 2 Feasibility Report, p. 6)

Parramatta City Council’s proposed 4 light rail lines. Click to enlarge. (Source: Western Sydney Light Rail Network: Part 2 Feasibility Report, p. 6)

Monday: Light rail gets planning approval

Planning approval has been given to modifications proposed to the CBD and South East Light Rail Line. Changes include the removal of one stop along George St in the CBD and the relocation of the light rail line to the Northern side of Alison Road, opposite the Randwick Racecourse. The Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said “The green light from planning means we can roll out longer light rail vehicles with more seats for customers and 50 per cent more capacity, allowing us to move up to 13,500 passengers every hour”. Construction will begin later this year, and is expected to be completed in 2018, with the line opening in early 2019.

Thursday: Nile adds conditions to asset sale

The Christian Democratic Party’s leader Fred Nile has added conditions to supporting the 99 year lease of the state’s electricity distribution assets. Mr Nile has demanded that workers rights be protected, seeking that “There would be no sackings for five years [and] their existing conditions and superannuation arrangements must be guaranteed”. The Coalition, which is seeking to lease the assets in order to go ahead with its $20bn infrastructure plans, is not expected to gain an absolute majority in the NSW Upper House and will likely need the support of the CDP in order to do so.

Saturday: WestConnex gets approval from Infrastructure Australia

Infrastructure Australia has given WestConnex, the proposed 33km surface and tunnel freeway connecting the M4 and M5 freeways in Sydney’s West via Sydney’s Inner West, the green light. IA found that WestConnex would provide $1.80 in benefits for every $1.00 spent, although this is less than the $2.55 that the NSW Government claimed it would provide in a 2013 report.

However, the report is based on the assumption that no additional car trips will occur as a result of the road’s construction. These “induced” trips were partly responsible for Melbourne’s East West Link receiving a benefit cost ratio of 0.45, compared to WestConnex’s 1.8. The report also does not take as conservative an approach to potential cost blowouts as IA normally takes, potentially understating the cost and thus overstating the benefit cost ratio.

Despite this, IA believes that the benefit cost ratio would still be above 1 (indicating benefits outweigh the costs), even if these two anomolies were taken into account.

  1. michblogs says:

    Really Malcolm ? A five-day-return ? Where did you learn that, Boston ? And not bought a ticket since, probably.

  2. PeteD says:

    There are enough people defending Malcolm. Yet in the context of the video (which predates Opal) It sounds like he is actually buying five tickets, eg for his advisers and the film crew too.
    Whatever his flaws, he is well known for actually catching public transport.

  3. PeteD says:

    I must say that Light Rail from Parramatta to Rhodes (via Wentworth Point) makes more sense (and is logistically easier) than to Burwood or Strathfield.

    I also wonder “why not do both” especially given that the route to Olympic Park would be the same as the route to Carlingford (at least) until the Carlingford line. It would also be possible to run it to Carlingford and then work on the extension to Epping. I can’t however see much basis for duplicating the Heavy Rail between Epping and Macquarie Park.

  4. Ray says:

    Really michblogs? You’re showing your political bias. As PeterD said, it’s a well known fact that Malcolm Turnbull is a regular user of public transport and pays for it himself.

  5. Ray says:

    I am still bewildered why the recommendations of the Parramatta City Council feasibility study for the Western Sydney Light Rail project have been ignored. I would give far more credence to this independent study than I would to anything that comes out of Transport for NSW. Even more bewildering is that the Lord Mayor of Parramatta doesn’t even support his own Council’s recommendation.

    The feasibility study recommended the route from Westmead/Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood as the first priority followed by a route (subject to further analysis) from Parramatta to Castle Hill. It shortlisted future extensions to Rhodes via Sydney Olympic Park and Bankstown.

    The government has ignored those recommendations, apart from the line to Bankstown, and instead has shortlisted other options which are completely different. Why? A significant amount of research had already been done and it beggars belief that it hasn’t been factored in.

    The government’s shortlisted option from Parramatta (note excluding Westmead) to Macquarie Park via Carlingford and Epping didn’t even make the shortlist in the original feasibility study and the route to Strathfield/Burwood via Sydney Olympic Park ranked No 10 in the list of priorities.

    What is particularly galling is that the preferred route to Macquarie Park via Eastwood, which is the most direct and along an existing road reservation, has been completely ignored and not even acknowledged, when by any measure it is the far superior option. It seems that the imperative to fully utilize the Carlingford rail corridor, despite the problem of extending the light rail line along the narrow Carlingford Rd through the congested Epping Town Centre, has taken precedence.

  6. Anthony says:

    I can’t see how light rail from Parramatta to Olympic Park is viable. If people want a direct rail route between these two centres, there already is a train line which would be just as quick, if not quicker. All that is needed is direct train service from Parramatta to Olympic Park along the existing line.
    A rapid busway would be cheaper and better as it would direct services to Wentworth Point and Rhodes (via the Homebush Bay Bridge currently being built) as well as to Olympic Park.
    I don’t think the passenger numbers could justify this route.
    The light rail to Macquarie Park is the better option but I would think heavy rail line from Parramatta to Epping, along the Carlongford line, through to Chatswood, would be a better option as it would be quicker and better connected with the railway network (even if it was a single deck metro like the NW line).

  7. Ray says:

    @Anthony –
    I agree with your comments about use of the existing rail link between Parramatta and Olympic Park as well as bus rapid transit in lieu of a light rail link. There is also the possibility of a future West Metro from the CBD to Parramatta along this corridor. The light rail option would be a waste of money and as you suggest the level of patronage would only warrant a busway in the short to medium term.

    However, any future Parramatta to Epping rail link (as distinct from light rail) is now unlikely as that option has effectively been cut off because the proposed new stub tunnels at Epping as part of the North West Rapid Transit have been abandoned. Once the rapid transit line is operational it would require a lengthy shutdown, which would not be too popular, to construct a connecting link. If for some reason it did proceed, it would obviously have to be a rapid transit service to integrate with the North West Line.

    In any event, a Parramatta to Epping heavy rail/rapid transit link would be at least triple the cost of the light rail option (via Eastwood) which could not be justified based on the level of predicted patronage. This is why the heavy rail option was abandoned in the first place.

    Another factor which so far hasn’t been highlighted is that if the option of a light rail line via Carlingford and Epping was chosen, it is only likely to go as far as Epping, otherwise it would be wastefully duplicating the existing rail link from Epping to Macquarie Park. This would require interchange for the bulk of passengers at Epping continuing their journeys to and from Macquarie University/Park. The route via Eastwood would provide a more direct, faster and seamless journey without the need to change. It would also provide an enhanced public transport link on a corridor that is currently not as adequately serviced as it should be, with Eastwood currently being a larger retail/commercial centre than Epping and having the greater potential for redevelopment. It is also an interchange station, like Epping, for Newcastle and Central Coast Intercity rail services.

  8. Alexsg says:

    The Parramatta to Olympic Park option has to be seen in the context of the four original light rail proposals put forward by Parramatta Council. Council’s Parramatta/Westmead to Macquarie Park option was (and should be) seen as the priority along with the line to Rouse Hill, followed by the Olympic Park line and then the one to Bankstown.

    However all four lines were to share a central east-west corridor through the Parramatta CBD, with the Olympic line branching off the Macquarie Park line at Camillia. In this context the Olympic Park line makes more sense; it was also intended to link to Rhodes station and the residential/shopping precinct there.

    I agree however that if you consider this line as a stand-alone project running only from Parramatta to Olympic Park then it probably isn’t a priority for light rail and could be done as a busway – unless I guess you wanted to extend it south then east to service Parramatta Road, though I agree this would be better done as a metro.

  9. Ray says:

    The just released Urban Taskforce report on potential future metros and light rail links recommends the Parramatta to Macquarie Park via Eastwood route as the preferred option for that corridor.

  10. Brendan says:

    Here’s an idea: convert the South Line between Cabramatta and Merrylands into a seperate metro line that’s decoupled from the Inner West Line.

    This new line would run into new tunnels just north of Merrylands, and then head to a new underground station in the Parramatta CBD before continuing to Epping/Macquarie Park. This would provide a direct link from the job poor south-west to some of Sydney’s most important employment areas.

    As trains from Central will no longer be able to access Cabramatta via Granville, direct services to Cabramatta and Liverpool will use the Regents Park branch, which should be possible as soon as the Bankstown Line is converted to metro (as far as Bankstown) as part of the Second Habour Crossing/Sydney Rapid Transit project. Note that this route is actually a shorter than going via Granville and should cut down the Central-Cabramatta journey by at least 10 minutes.

    The only “downside” would be that existing South Line passengers north of Cabramatta will no longer have a one-seat ride to the city, but as long as the new line is run at an adequate frequency and the interchange at Parramatta and Cabramatta stations is fluid, the actual travel time to the city should actually improve due to the abundance of express services at Parramatta station and the Regents Park “shortcut” being used to get to Central from Cabramatta.

  11. Ray says:

    @Brendan –
    I don’t agree with converting any part of the existing Sydney Trains network to Metro/Rapid Transit. It’s a complete waste of resources. By all means construct a completely separate metro system, but leave Sydney Trains network alone. Upgrading the pinch points in the existing network should take precedence over a future metro system.

  12. Simon says:

    I don’t agree with converting any part of the existing network to be less capable either. But that doesn’t mean I support delaying the NWRL to allow the tunnel floors to be excavated and let Sydney Trains into it.

  13. JC says:

    There are lots of very successful examples of sub-optimal heavy rail being converted into metro-frequency LRT and “light metro” (i.e. essentially metro systems in terms of service delivery and consumer experience, but based on much cheaper LR technology) – in UK, Germany and (most importantly) Melbourne. We should’t close our mind to the possibilities here. What’s needed is a frequent, comfortable service with good connectivity across the whole city (not just to/from the CBD). I wonder whether the punters along the South Line between Cabramatta and Merrylands (or Bankstown or East Hills, Strathfield-Epping) line would prefer a tangara every 15-20 minutes (at best) or a LRV every 2 minutes.

  14. QPP says:

    >>I don’t agree with converting any part of the existing network to be less capable either<<

    No problem with converting it to a more capable rapid transit system then, is there? ;)

  15. Ray says:

    @JC & QPP –
    Give us a break. You can look at your fanciful schemes, but in the real world they’re just not practicable, nor would they be accepted by the public. Do you seriously think that commuters would prefer to stand on a more frequent rapid transit service from the outer suburbs? I think not. You haven’t even considered the implications for the rest of the network. You can’t just ignore it.

  16. PeteD says:

    A friend tells me that when the decision was made to increase capacity via Granville rather than Regents Park (1996 timetable I think), they had modelling showing more users getting on trains at Fairfield than the whole line between Cabramatta and Lidcombe. I doubt this has changed much.

    I have rethought my Parramatta Light Rail idea. What it should be is as follows:

    Line from Westmead, through Parramatta to Rosehill then:

    1. North Clyde, Silverwater, Newington, Olympic Park, Wentworth Point (including Ferry Wharf), Rhodes.
    2. Rydalmere, Dundas, (using the original Parramatta Council Proposal) Eastwood, to Macquarie Park
    3. Rydalmere, Dundas, Telopea, Carlingford, Oakes Rd Bus Interchange, Cherrybrook SRT Station.

    Past Westmead it wouldn’t be hard to repurpose the current T-Way (or part of it) and run Light Rail up to Bella Vista Station.

  17. JC says:

    “in the real world they’re just not practicable” … so St Kilda and Port Melbourne are not in the real world?? (putting aside Manchester, Newcastle and Croydon in the UK)

    “Do you seriously think that commuters would prefer to stand on a more frequent rapid transit service from the outer suburbs?” I’m not talking about the outer suburbs. And for the inner network (as far as Revesby, Lidcombe, Cabramatta, Epping) I actually think people would prefer a 2 min frequency over a 20 minute frequency even if they had to stand on the occassional trip – but hey why not wait for the next train/tram when you can get a seat??

    The sort of lateral thinking proposed by Brendan is what we need to be considering to deliver real capacity improvements much more cheaply than the metro/privatisers or the old school NSWGR lot.

    How about converting the whole of the Bankstwen line to LR, adding a spur adjacent to the freight line via Belfied to Strathfied, integrating services with the inner west LRT at Dulwich Hill, leaving the existing train network at Central and heading up the proposed George Street line or a new Castlereigh street line, diverting into the old tram station at Wynyard and potentially over the Bridge. Better service than the existing heavy rail along the Bankstown Line and freed up paths through the CBD for outer-suburban heavy rail – and all for less than we are paying now – and if you include the 2nd Harbour Crossing it would much cheaper than a heavy rail or metro version of the same…

    This is not necessarily a serious suggestion, but a quick thought exercise on what we could do to increase capacity and frequency – and pay less – by being a bit creative.

  18. Tom says:

    Ray, why don’t YOU give us a break, hey?

    If you were to introduce a metro style service there, you’d have trains with less seats yes but running at higher frequencies. So per hour, you’d actually have more seats available for patrons from trains running every 5 mins, say, than from double deck trains running every 15-20mins.

    Jeez. The implications for the rest of the network is why they were toying round with it – it means you now have no bottleneck from Granville.

  19. Simon says:

    I’m with Ray.

    I do not understand what is with coming up with weird ideas for PT for Sydney. Just fix up the basic service. I guess the question is having crappy PT seems to fit in with the values of society. Suggest a service increase and people whinge about the cost to the taxpayer.

  20. > You haven’t even considered the implications for the rest of the network. You can’t just ignore it.
    The current government does :-).

  21. QPP says:

    >>You haven’t even considered the implications for the rest of the network. You can’t just ignore it.<<

    On the contrary. The most important implication for the rest of the network is that when new transport schemes or service needs start to be addressed, there may be alternatives, without them all being hobbled by the one size fits all status quo, where every journey has to be made by an 8 car DD train feeding into a desperately bottlenecked central section that is almost impossible/prohibitively expensive to do something about

    The existing network does some things well – reliability, seating. And some other things less well. Some things it does appallingly – subsidy from taxpayer, frequency on many lines, resilience, speed

    Kicking over a few statues and breaking the requirement that all rail lines must be "integrated" (why? what on earth does this add? what's wrong with interconnections?) and follow an operating model that's at least 50 years out of date is a very useful implication for the rest of the network

  22. JC says:


    That approach is fine if all you want PT to do is take a bunch of white-collar CBD workers who are lucky enough to live near an existing railwa6 station to and from work. Even if we get a world’s best communter network doing this we will still be topping the CO2 charts and grinding to a halt as the city gridlocks.

    We need high-frequency high-interconnection services that aren’t focues solely on the CBD – supported by a good information and fares structure. Only that will get the shoppers and the school-runners and the non-CBD workers out of their cars.

    We could build a completely new metro network to do this, which would be unaffordable and under-used at the densities we currently have – or we can try and make the most of the existing considerable (and good quality) investment in the rail network – supplemented with LR and BRT.

  23. Ray says:

    @Tom –
    What you conveniently neglect to mention is that running a higher frequency of single deck metro services to match the seating capacity of double deck would require double the quantity of rolling stock, at a significant cost burden, regardless of whether or not it is driverless. In any event, that level of frequency to service the line capacity is overkill.

  24. Ray says:

    @QPP –
    On the contrary, you HAVEN’T considered the implications for the rest of the network. Why do you have to complicate things by bastardising the existing network to satisfy some ideological agenda? The existing network CAN be improved if there is the political will to do so. That won’t be possible if critical parts of the network are confiscated. There are implications, whether or not you want to acknowledge it. The most efficient operation would be under a unified integrated network. By all means, introduce separate systems , but leave the existing network alone.

  25. Ray says:

    @JC –
    In case you haven’t noticed, the overwhelming majority of commuters travelling by public transport is to the CBD and that’s unlikely to change. A high frequency interconnection rail service that isn’t solely focused on the CBD just isn’t warranted because of the lower density of the broader Sydney region. LR and BRT is the more appropriate in this situation.

  26. Simon says:

    JC, I think that ship has sailed. With massive development including more jobs at Barranagaroo. All I’m suggesting is that they cater to the planning decisions already made.

    I also advocate better PT into Parramatta in particular.

  27. Greg says:


    “the overwhelming majority of commuters travelling by public transport is to the CBD and that’s unlikely to change.”

    Not with that attitude it won’t.

    While only a relatively small portion of people people in Sydney work in the CBD, there are many more that work in other centres that would be easily served by good quality public transport. We need to create a grid like system of frequent services at least covering by the centres of Liverpool, Hurstville, Bankstown, Olympic Park, Norwest, Macquarie Park, Chatswood, St Leonards, North Sydney, Airport, CBD. At the moment if you work in one of those centres and don’t work in the same general direction when heading away from the CBD the chances are you drive.

    If you had a frequent grid-like system, you enhance the number of possible trips and really start to get at road congestion. Some examples

    1. A Hurstville to Strathfield metro taking over the lower Northern line as far as Epping – this would cut across all lines like an orbital and connect people living along the East Hills, Bankstown Line, Illawarra Line directly up to be close to Olympic Park or Macquarie Park.

    2. Parramatta to Epping – this opens up connections up to Macquarie Park or Chatswood for those living in the West and South West (Western Line or Cumberland Line changing at Parramatta) and connections for those living in the North to more directly access Parramatta.

    I guarantee you the public transport mode share for people living and working in these location combinations would be much lower than for those working in the CBD, but the traffic congestion not much better.

    The thing is – almost everyone who who works in the CBD who doesn’t have a work subsidised car and a car spot to park it already catches public transport to get there. The market is saturated. We can just cater to the growth in employment there, or we can do that but ALSO try and improve mode share in the other much easier to grow (due to low starting point) employment markets.

    It seems a hell of a lot more ideological to think that everything should continue to to fit a particular form based on how it currently is – just because that is the way it is – than it does to take a step back and asking if we are making the best use of our existing and high quality physical infrastructure.

  28. Simon says:

    Rail is unlikely to be the appropriate mode for cross town trips. What is needed is a far greater emphasis on better buses and better integration with the Cityrail system.

  29. JC says:

    In case you haven’t noticed, the overwhelming majority of commuters travelling by public transport is to the CBD …

    …durr…. In case you haven’t noticed, that’s the only place the trains go.

  30. JC says:

    @ Simon re buses. The economist in me agrees – on the surface BRT offers by tar the best value for money, and is probablly enough to offer frequent and good quality service in most of Sydney wuth the densities we have – and nothing to stop it being progressively upgrated (to fully separated, to guided, to LRT, to pre-metro, to metro). But it is a tricky one. People don’t like buses, and BRT is rarely resourced adequately; it’s too easy to cut corners on grade separation, integration, ride quality etc. Maybe it’s better to bite the bullet and put in the LRT to provide the step change in quality that can really affect behaviour.

  31. Simon says:

    JC @4:00am,

    The CBD isn’t really the only place trains go. Last I checked most reasonable sized employment destinations have rail access – Global Arc, Parra, Hurstville, Kogarah, Bondi Junction, Liverpool, Airport.

  32. Alex says:

    @JC (4:14am) – agree re the community perception of buses and BRT. There’s actually been some interesting discussion about this on LinkedIn: – which was prompted by a recent CityLab article:

    Broadly speaking the consensus was that BRT suffers perhaps unfairly from the extremely negative perceptions that many people have based on their experiences of ordinary bus services compared to rail or light rail. As you say, if BRT is to overcome this a lot of attention has to be paid to separation, ride quality, noise levels, integration etc so that the BRT experience approaches that at least of light rail.

    While in theory BRT could be designed and constructed to this standard it’s very expensive and often (as someone on another blog put it) the bean-counters get in on the act and cut back on standards to cut costs, so you can end up with just another ordinary bus service in a dedicated bus lane. And on the other hand if you do keep the accountants at bay the costs of the BRT start to approach that of LRT.

    This isn’t to say there aren’t arguments that BRT is still a better option in some circumstances, but as you point out the public enthusiasm demonstrated for new LRT lines and extensions in Adelaide, Sydney and the Gold Coast would tend to suggest that it might be worth paying the premium for LRT to boost patronage.

    @Simon – true, heavy rail services most of the centres you mention and several other current and planned centres will be serviced by the NWRL and the SWRL. However there are still issues relating to circumferential linkages between the radial arms of the rail network servicing these employment corridors and to providing better sub-regional and local services to these centres.The extension of the Inner West light rail has been popular for this reason, even if the experience of the bus T-ways in Western Sydney is a little mixed.

    I think there is a strong case in the longer term for circumferential heavy rail or metro links as these centres develop and the proportion of the workforce in these centres increases. However in the short to medium term there is a role for light rail to provide such links between Parramatta and Macquarie Park, followed as Parramatta Council suggested by links to Castle Hill, Olympic Park/Rhodes, and Bankstown, supplemented by the implementation of BRT in other corridors.

  33. JC says:

    The CBD isn’t really the only place trains go. Last I checked most reasonable sized employment destinations have rail access – Global Arc, Parra, Hurstville, Kogarah, Bondi Junction, Liverpool, Airport……

    ….from the CBD.

  34. JC says:

    @Greg re bus v. rail The citylab article hints at the solution. You trick people into thinking thay are in a tram when they are really on a bus viz. the Los Angeles orange line BRT picture that actually hides the big rubber wheels behind fibreglass to protect the illusion. In Caen (France) all of the signage etc refers to trams, and the vehicle and station design are almost indistingushable from LR – until you notice that there are no tracks on the streets. The result is good ridership and public acceptance.

  35. Alex says:

    @JC – yes, but the issue is at what point do the costs of properly implementing the “trick” BRT start approaching those of the “real thing” (LRT)?

    Another difference is internal vehicle size, an issue I was strongly reminded of the other day when on a very crowded Sydney bus. I know trams can get very crowded, but there is something about the amount of space in tram v. bus isles, especially when people are getting on and off.

  36. JC says:

    @Alex Fair enough on both points. The research quoted in the citylab piece shows that even in very idealised renderings the public (a) can tell the difference and (b) have a preference.

    What the research didn’t ask of course was would you rather have 10 km of “picture 1” or 5 km of “picture 2”.?

  37. Greg says:

    I am certainly in agreement that good regional bus connections are very important and something we should be focusing on. That said, I think there is a strong argument for a few strategic non-CBD rail lines acting as cross-regional connectors to get people from existing places on the rail network to existing places on the rail network. It is a reason I mentioned the 2 examples of Parramatta to Epping and Strathfield to Hurstville is due to the way they cut across the network and open up new employment options to greater proportions of the overall population. Another I would add to the list would be an extension of SRT directly from Bankstown to Liverpool via Bankstown Airport and Chipping Norton.

    For instance, take someone living in Glenfield and working in Macquarie Park. To drive, it would take on a typical morning around 50 minutes with M7+M2 tolls, or maybe 1 hour 20 minutes with only M2 or M5 tolls, depending on route taken. To take public transport, that trip is going to take 1 hour 40 minutes either taking the Cumberland line to Parramatta and taking a bus, or taking trains and changing at Strathfield and Epping. If you built the Parramatta to Epping link, you probably cut that trip by 30 minutes and make it time competitive with driving.

    This is just one very specific example but it could be so many different origin/destination combinations that are opened up building some of these cross regional rail connections. The vast majority of Sydney’s traffic is caused by non-CBD journeys and if we can get a percentage of that off the road it frees capacity for road users who need it, such as commercial traffic. It also frees up CBD bound rail capacity as people no longer head to the CBD to change and then head back out.

    I think BRT could be a great addition to the transport mix on some corridors (Victoria Rd, Parramatta Rd, Military Rd being some examples) but I don’t know how much it would as a mid-trip connector. I don’t know how many people would make Rail-Bus-Rail journeys compared to people who would take Rail-Rail-Rail type journeys like Sutherland to Parramatta with the Hurstville to Strathfield line, which would be 3 x 10-15 minute legs for a travel time of under 60 minutes, definitely competitive with driving, vs probably 90 minutes now traveling via the CBD.

  38. My personal theory as to why people prefer rail to busses is that some clown with a clipboard can change the bus route whenever the itch strikes them.

    Chosing a place to live, or a place to work – are big decisions. Committing to using PT to commute to work is a big decision. You do it based on the existance of a nearby bus stop at your perril.

    But once those rails are down, you *know* that is where the trains will run, and no-one can easily change that.

  39. Alex says:

    @JC – I take your point about presenting the options in this way, but I wonder if it is 5km of LRT or 10km of BRT at the same price, or more like perhaps 7km to 10km if the former is designed properly to resemble the latter. And even if you convince the public that you can deliver more kilometres with BRT for the same cost, people may well still opt for LRT; pragmatically, they may decide that an investment in a smaller LRT “starter” system may be worthwhile because it can be extended later (I think this may have been a factor in the preference for LRT for the Gold Coast).

    @Greg – I broadly agree re the case for selected cross-regional rail lines. However I think there is a question regarding timing, plus now there is the issue of which mode these links (heavy rail or metro) should use, especially in relation to any Epping-Parramatta-Main South line connection. Personally I would sooner see some sort of LRT link in this corridor in the short term rather than the uncertainty of waiting for a heavy rail or metro a lot further in the future.

    @ttr99 – I agree that the physical infrastructure of heavy rail and to a lesser extent LRT confers a positive sense of permanence in the minds of the public regarding rail services relative to buses. There is however the small contra-example of the cutting of the Newcastle rail line….

  40. JC says:

    @Alex: “but I wonder if it is 5km of LRT or 10km of BRT at the same price, or more like perhaps 7km to 10km if the former is designed properly to resemble the latter”

    Good point – I don’t have the numbers to say whether the cost drivers of the difference are the LR- bit (vehicles, tracks, wires, substations) or the -RT bit (grade separation, cost of reservations, stations). I suspect that the former are big enough to mean that even with very well engineered BRT, there is still a major saving over LR. This of course could be cancelled out by the capacity – it would be good to see some real world “per passenger km” numbers.

  41. Greg says:

    @Alex – you are probably right that we are better to have LRT in the Parramatta-Macquarie Park corridor now rather than a heavy rail/rapid transit link some time in the future. I only hope they pay regard to priority and travel time and remember that this is likely to be just 1 link in many cross regional trips. If they can maintain an average travel speed of 30km/h then the travel time would be 30 minutes end-to-end, which would still cut almost 30 minutes off any current public transport alternatives (be they bus or train-train-train journey).

    I would think cross regional routes would preferably be metro – when we are trying to build a network of origin/destination pairs across the city that require people to change, frequency will be king in keeping down end-to-end journey times.

  42. Ray says:

    @Greg –
    I think you’re living in fantasy land if you believe that cross regional routes could be by metro. Sydney’s low density and limited demand could never justify the expense of an underground metro system. The Parramatta to Epping Rail Link was dropped because the forecast patronage didn’t justify the cost of its construction. The light rail link between Parramatta and Macquarie Park (via Eastwood) is more suited for the level of patronage at a third of the cost. The same principle applies to other cross regional routes.

    In any event, the option of a heavy rail or metro link between Parramatta and Epping has effectively been cut off because the previously proposed connecting stub tunnels at Epping on the NWRL have been abandoned.

  43. Greg says:

    I don’t know… this made a pretty good case for a Macquarie Park to Hurstville line as a metro…

    Click to access 04-Metro%20Network%20Strategy%20-%20Corridor%20Assessment%20Dec%202009%20%28A61199%29.pdf

  44. Alex says:

    @Greg – thanks for posting that link – I had forgotten about that document, which is interesting for several reasons.

    Along with many others at the time I was a strong critic of the Rozelle metro which seemed to be an ad hoc proposal drawn up on the back of the envelope,

  45. Alex says:

    @Greg – sorry, the perils of writing posts on an iPad – that went up before I was finished. As I was about to say I was strongly critical of the Rozelle metro which seemed to be a fairly ad hoc, under-specified proposal. This dicument at least shows that some strategic thinking went into it, even if it was after the initial proposal was made.

  46. Alex says:

    @Greg – take three! I don’t know what’s the matter with me this morning! Anyway, as I said it appears that there was some thought about the long-term plans for this incarnation of the metro. The first interesting thing about this was that at that stage the network was designed to be completely independent of the heavy rail network and did not involve cannibalising the EPRL or the Bankstown lines.

    The second was as you point out that it did involve a circumferential link but one that was much further east than Parramatta-Epping. I recall that there have been plans kicking around for some time for some sort of Strathfield to Hurstville link to provide interchanges with four rail lines, and I think this is one such link where heavy rail or metro could work.

    This metro proposal was essentially the same thing but would have involved putting it through Sydney Olympic Park or Burwood with a possible link to Macquarie Park, though I think the latter would have been less likely.

  47. Simon says:

    JC, wrt your comment about those places having rail access to the CBD – well they do but in all cases except Bondi Junction there is also access from the opposite side of the centre. This is a very beneficial effect. In a couple of cases there is other access, namely Parramatta’s Cumberland Line, and the Airport’s Wolli Creek interchange with the Illawarra.

  48. Greg says:

    @Alex Yes the Strathfield to Hurstville link was in Action for Transport 2010… Remember that?

    If we look at the corridors of the 3 previously proposed metro lines, we can see how they have developed. NW is in progress (with the exception of route being via ECRL). SE is being built as Light Rail rather than Metro. West is being improved using the existing service (such as extra express trains and the introduction of Partamatta starting stoppers) as well as light rail (potential Partamatta to Olympic Park). Northern Beaches is getting a light version of BRT and eventually possibly a SRT branch.

    That covers all of the corridors of the city west and city east lines. That just leaves metro line 3, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see it revived in some form at some point in the next 20 years, particularly as the middle ring suburbs it serves are likely to be where massive housing growth occurs over the next few decades.

  49. Ray says:

    @Greg –
    I don’t deny the importance of the Hurstville to Macquarie Park corridor, but, based on the predicted patronage, I can’t see any justification for the expense of constructing of a metro line for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, it may well happen one day.

  50. Brendan says:

    Some of the suburbs on the Hurstville to Macquarie Park route should just be completely redeveloped into medium and high density housing. This is especially true of Flemington and West Strathfield which are dominated by hideously poor quality walk-up flats, and the area between Hurstville and Kingsgrove which is mainly fibro shacks and McMansions mixed in with the odd remnant interwar Californian Bungalow.

  51. JC says:

    @Simon: the only people who catch trains to Hurstville, Bankstown etc are those who coincidentally already live on the same line between the centre and the CBD- almost noone makes cross-town rail trips to access these centres. Hence @Ray’s low patronage. People will only use interconnections if the services on both lines are frequent e.g. <5min headway. That will never happen with heavy rail (especially double-decker), and is metro is unaffordable. LR conversion of inner urban lines – complemented with new LR lines and well designed BRT needs to be considered.

  52. Simon says:

    I think your interconnection criteria is too high. There is certainly a non zero number of people who work at Hurstville and live on the line. I would also say that there is a non zero number who live on the Bankstown line and interchange at Sydenham and also on the airport line and interchange at Wolli Creek.

  53. michblogs says:

    If the Hurstville to Macquarie Park route was popular, there would be a popular bus service. There isn’t. It’s jam-packed with cars. It sounds good, in theory. But it is not going to be remotely competitive with cars, if people require three changes. Until the oil runs out.

  54. michblogs says:

    “For instance, take someone living in Glenfield and working in Macquarie Park. To drive, it would take on a typical morning around 50 minutes with M7+M2 tolls, or maybe 1 hour 20 minutes with only M2 or M5 tolls, depending on route taken. To take public transport, that trip is going to take 1 hour 40 minutes either taking the Cumberland line to Parramatta and taking a bus, or taking trains and changing at Strathfield and Epping. If you built the Parramatta to Epping link, you probably cut that trip by 30 minutes and make it time competitive with driving.”

    This is a good example.

    But the key bit you left out, is the person who lives 2 km from the station at Glenfield, which effectively adds nothing to the driving time, but is a significant source of uncertainty, cost, and hassle if using PT.

  55. michblogs says:

    Ray said: “I am still bewildered why the recommendations of the Parramatta City Council feasibility study for the Western Sydney Light Rail project have been ignored.”

    Not much to be bewildered about. Have you considered the land where the oil refinery was ? Putting the tram through there is being driven by the large-scale property developers.

  56. JC says:

    @Simon “I would also say that there is a non zero number who live on the Bankstown line and interchange at Sydenham and also on the airport line and interchange at Wolli Creek.” – but not much more than zero, otherwoise ther would be a lot less congetion.

    @Mitch” If the Hurstville to Macquarie Park route was popular, there would be a popular bus service. There isn’t. It’s jam-packed with cars.” – you answered your own question, the route is clogged with cars so a bus would be no faster than a car and a lot less convenient.

  57. Ray says:

    @michblogs – I’m aware that the Sydney Olympic Park light rail route is being driven by developers, but it still wouldn’t have the patronage of the Parramatta to Macquarie Park route for some years to come. It will no doubt warrant a line in the future, but it shouldn’t be the first priority. However, if the West Metro (CBD to Parramatta) is built, it wouldn’t be needed.

    With regard to the oil refinery, I understand that it isn’t moving, but will be used as a refined fuel storage depot.

  58. Simon says:

    Re: Hustville Macquarie Park, the M41 covers that exact route. You’re calling that bus “not popular” then? It’s hardly the least used bus route in Sydney.

  59. JC says:

    If I was going from Hurstville to Macquarie Park, I would take the train with a v. easy change at Town Hall and reasonably frequent service either side – (NWR/SRT is not an inviting prospect for thus trip though)

  60. Alex says:

    I think that the highest patronage on this route would be in the corridor between Hurstville and Strathfield/Olympic Park. This is from the Action for Transport 2010 media release in 1998:


    Estimated cost $800 million
    11 km (all tunnel)
    Connections to five key rail line-lines: Illawarra Line (Hurstville), East Hills line (Kingsgrove), Bankstown line (Campsie) and Western and Northern lines (Strathfield)
    Interchange with existing stations. Possible new stations at Croydon Park, Enfield, South Strathfield or South Belmore.
    Dedicated high frequency shuttle between Hurstville and Strathfield increasing cross-regional rail interchange opportunities on the connecting rail lines.
    Travel time savings from Strathfield to Hurstville (up to 14-20 mins)
    740 construction jobs

  61. Simon says:

    It turns out that the Australian Democrats have a half decent policy:

    At least it includes the WEX, faster trains and cheaper airport rail fares.

  62. MrV says:

    My thoughts on a metro: The fatties of Sydney could do with standing for a while.
    Also what is the difference between standing on the platform waiting for 15-20 mins for the next train versus standing on a metro train that arrives every 3-5mins ?

  63. Ray says:

    @MrV –

    Who says the fatties will have to wait on a platform for 15-20 minutes? Certainly not on most existing lines in the peak. The North West Rapid Transit is an exception and the frequency proposed is an overkill for what is essentially an outer suburban rail service, compared with the rest of Sydney. Ramping up RT services to equate with an equivalent number of seats which could be provided by half the number of double deck trains and focusing on the frequency is a deception. It is also a complete waste of resources. The argument is all about the seats, not the frequency. 8 DD trains an hour on the NWRL in its initial stage, most of which could have run direct to the CBD, would be more than adequate, until demand warranted the construction of the second harbour crossing, compatible with the rest of the network. The prospect of getting a service frequency of 3-5 minutes on the overwhelming majority of outer suburban services is an illusion. Fatties would vote with their feet to get a seat.

  64. QPP says:

    I completely disagree. It’s all about frequency, not seats.

    Just because many lines in Sydney have to tolerate a pathetic 10-15 minute gap between services does not mean that is an efficient way to run a service, nor one that is in the best interests of customers. A genuine “turn up and go” service with frequencies <5 minutes is a huge benefit in terms of convenience – and especially where changing trains is required.

    I agree that the outer reaches of the NWRL won't justify a train every 4 minutes in the early stages in terms of capacity, although I think you will be surprised at the pace of development around Cudgegong Rd, Kellyville and Bella Vista stations. But the link will be able to provide it and have the capacity to grow in terms of service.

    A DD service running straight to the CBD (that would never have got 8 tph, so please don't use that as a comparator) would be slower, have less ability to grow, be less frequent, and less convenient for everything except the fabled "single seat journey". Sydney needs to get over that obsession, it's just not compatible with the shape or size of the city.

    The service proposed is only a waste of resources in terms of rolling stock as you won't have the same variable costs in terms of staff on each train. And the SD trains are a fair bit cheaper than the DD ones on a per train basis

  65. Ray says:

    @QPP –
    I disagree with you QPP. Even Blind Freddie can see that the government has been ramping up the frequency of the rapid transit service to equate with an equivalent number of seats on a double deck service, using the increase in frequency as justification. An outer suburban low density area like the North West, doesn’t justify a frequency of 3-5 minutes, just as the South West Growth Area doesn’t. At best, it would only be justified as far as Castle Hill and even that’s stretching it. More realistic is as far as Epping. Sure, there is major development taking place around the outer reaches of the NWRL, but it is overwhelmingly low density, which is no different to other outer suburban regions of Sydney. There is no comparison with higher density inner city regions.

    There needs to be a distinction between a rail system that services low density outer suburban regions and that which services high density inner city regions. They are incompatible. Up until now, the hybrid Sydney system has functioned quite well, servicing both markets. But, the time has now been reached when the inner city needs a separate higher frequency network. The existing network should be left as it is, servicing the outer reaches of the Sydney region, including future extensions such as the NWRL and SWRL.

    I would support a separate inner city rapid transit system servicing an area within 20-25km of the CBD, which is typical of most rapid transit/metro systems in the world’s major cities. The current North West Rapid Transit proposal doesn’t meet this criteria. However, it’s now a fait accompli, so we have to make the most of it. The Paris rail system is a template which could be applicable to Sydney’s rail network. The RER, with double deck trains, services the outer suburban regions with direct services through the CBD with the separate Metro system servicing the inner city.

  66. I was reading the other day that in the next 4-5 years Macquarie Park is set to overtake North Sydney as Sydney’s largest centre outside of the CBD. The existence of places like these, plus Chatswood and Norwest Business Park, means the SRT corridor actually will resemble inner city like conditions. And if they don’t, a high frequency transport network will certainly facilitate a transition to high density residential and employment development.

    I really feel that most opponents of SRT either forget or simply ignore this important fact. These will not be low density outer suburban areas in future (nothing South East of Macquarie Park today could be described as anything close to urban sprawl). This new line actually fits Sydney’s future needs.

  67. Rails says:

    I agree Bambul, a major issue that most transport commentators lack is any understanding of the proposed urban development of Sydney and what it actually needs. I have been saying for a number of years now that the NW corridor is different to other corridors on the Sydney rail network. With multiple destinations on its route like the CBD stations, North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, North Ryde, Macquarie Park, Macquarie Uni, Epping, Castle Hill, Hills Centre and Nortwest It is suitable for high frequency single deck trains whereas places like Penrith, Campbelltown etc are not, they are suited to lower frequency double deck trains where passengers get on at an outer station and travel for long distances to only the one destination.

    The benefit of higher frequency for the NW also comes into play with the way that area has developed, there area a lot of residents that are not CBD bound, they do work in the many other employment centres mentioned along the NW corridor. There will be a good portion who will be getting on and off at a number of stations along the line and not just sitting in the one seat heading to the CBD. Many in the NW are also used to higher frequency but smaller buses (where many passengers already stand for their entire trip), now those buses will transfer their passengers to the rail line. Passengers using these buses will appreciate that there wont be the scenario where if they get caught in traffic and miss the connections delivered by a 15 minute train service. The trains will be every few minutes. The same goes for the drivers, the stations will have a very large park and ride catchment (4000 car spots). If these cars get stuck in traffic and just miss the connection its a much better situation to wait a few minutes rather than 15.

    The NW (and ECRL) line will not remain low density either, its an opportunity for urban activation precincts with 15- 20 plus storey towers along its route along with the commercial development. Many of these are already planned. Councils like this because it minimises their expenditure on Infrastructure and leaves the lower density areas away from the rail line as they are. Hills council are particularly supportive of the towers and Norwest is already planned to be like Chatswood. Centres like Epping, North Ryde, Chatwood, St Leonards are all booming with development on the back of the extra rail infrastructure planned,

    The missing link is probably the PERL with the amount of development that is happening and planned for the Carlingford corridor but that link is dead it seems and will be light rail. Pity because in SRT form it makes sense. Cross it with an interchange at Camelia with the privately funded Light Rail from Westmead to the Western line around Strathfield via the Rosehill, Silverwater and Olympic Park precincts and you have the perfect opportunity for mass development on all the industrial land around there that has seen better days. They are already building the Westconnex to help facilitate this. So may opportunities and you still have the ability for the Northern Beaches line to join the SRT at North Sydney.

  68. JC says:


    “There needs to be a distinction between a rail system that services low density outer suburban regions and that which services high density inner city regions.” – Agree

    “But, the time has now been reached when the inner city needs a separate higher frequency network” – agree.

    “The existing network should be left as it is, servicing the outer reaches of the Sydney region, including future extensions such as the NWRL and SWRL.” ….Not exactly.

    The bits that serve outer Sydney with commutrer railways with DD stock are fine. This stock and these frequencies don’t work for the inner /middle-ring. Much of the lines from the CBD to Bankstown, Hurstville, Olympic Park, Epping are already separeted from the longer lines – they need to be fully separated and re-stocked with metro or s-bahn or LRT trains, and that will from the basis of an “inner city higher frequency network”

  69. Ray says:

    @JC –
    I take your point, but I don’t agree that the inner sections of the existing network should be converted to metro. Leave it as it is, with appropriate upgraded signalling and ATP. The disruption created by converting existing lines would be horrendous, let alone the risks of running automated metro systems alongside a manually operated system through sections of multiple track which are prevalent in the inner city.

    We have yet to see what the experience will be when the Epping to Chatswood Line is closed for 7 months to convert it to rapid transit. The closure of the Bankstown Line will be even longer and more disruptive, particularly for those commuters between Liverpool and Bankstown. I don’t think the Government has thought this through. My preference would be to have a completely independent metro system servicing an area within 20-25km of the CBD where there is no interface with the existing Sydney Trains’ network, apart from interchanging at strategically located stations.

    Although it’s now academic, I would have liked the NWRL to have been constructed as an extension of the existing network with a direct connection to the Northern Line north of Epping, despite the howls of protest from the good burghers of Cheltenham and Beecroft, which would have allowed trains from the North West to run to the CBD via both the ECRL and express from Eastwood on the Northern Line to the CBD via Strathfield. It would obviously also require upgrading between Strathfield and the CBD (Western Express). In the longer term, I would advocate a separate metro link from Epping to the CBD via the Victoria Rd corridor connecting with a South East metro (the previously proposed Anzac route).

    I don’t subscribe to the view that a significant number of commuters from the North West (sorry Bambul) will be bound for Macquarie Park destinations. As has already been emphasized, there are currently a minimal number of bus routes from the North West servicing Macquarie Park destinations, with the overwhelming majority running direct to the CBD. I don’t believe it will be any different with patronage on the North West Rapid Transit. Macquarie Park is a widely dispersed business park, with abundant car parking, and I can see no reason why commuters from the North West would change their travel habits. Just consider that it can be a long walk, sometimes in inclement weather without any shelter, to reach some employment destinations far removed from the rail stations, unlike the more compact business centres of Chatswood, St Leonards and North Sydney. Macquarie Park is car oriented and I don’t foresee any change. Macquarie University is perhaps an exception.

    Just as London has its separate Underground and Overground (extending it through the centre of London with Thameslink and Crossrail and catching up with Sydney after a century) and Paris has its Metro and RER (Suburban), Sydney should use this template for its future metropolitan rail development. Forget about recent Asian metro developments such as in Singapore and Hong Kong, because they didn’t have legacy rail networks on the scale we have in Sydney, which can’t be ignored, so there is no comparison. We should base our future network on what has happened in Europe.

  70. @Ray –

    Macquarie Park has 3 stations, while further development will both reduce available parking (per person if not in absolute amounts) and increase density.

    The trick is (as I mentioned earlier) to prepare for the Macquarie Park of the future, not the one of today.

  71. Simon says:

    I don’t know why Ray & TTR have this thing about the NW/Strathfield connection. It’s not needed and doing such things are where Cityrail has gone wrong in the past. Just have one way of doing it. Indeed, the upper northern line can swing as needed for capacity purposes.

  72. > I really feel that most opponents of SRT either forget or simply ignore this important fact. These will
    > not be low density outer suburban areas in future (nothing South East of Macquarie Park today
    > could be described as anything close to urban sprawl).

    I don’t foreget this. I just don’t buy it. “I was reading the other day that in the next 4-5 years Macquarie Park is set to overtake North Sydney as Sydney’s largest centre outside of the CBD.” @rails has been spouting this line for a decade or so over on Railpage. There is way too much blue sky and not enough bricks on the ground for my liking with this sort of thinking. I’m old enough to remember similar predictions being made about Bankstown and Liverpool.

    But here is the thing – even if these predictions of major employment corridors eventuate, all of them combined are still dwarfed by the CBD. The Barangaroo development alone is bigger than any of these satelites will ever be this century. And the CBD has a higher PT market penetration, and rail has a higher proportion of PT usage than anywhere else.

    Even if – and it’s a big if – the development takes place in the NW satelites as outlined, it will still represent les than half of the NWRL’s usage. The primary application will be to get people to and from the CBD. If the new employment centres have an impact, it will be to boost contra-flow usage: people traveling from elsewhere in the city (which means by rail and via the CBD hub) to work in these new centres.

    > This new line actually fits Sydney’s future needs.

    My view is Sydney *needs* a high capacity, high speed PT linking the major satelites with the CBD so they can function more a single entity, a single labour market. Heavy Rail is the only mode which can deliver this. Sydney’s rail system partially achieves this IMHO, but is compromised by a lot of other (in my view) secondary objectives. SRT is less suitable for this role, and more compromised by the other objectives. That said, the difference is largely immaterial: SRT will probably do the job for the the NW, though it’s suitability for everywhere else is much less certain.

    The biggest problem with SRT is the cost. For the next twodecades it’s going to soak but all the available capital – and then some – essentially for fix the problems created by having incompatible form factors. And for what? Turn up and go frequencies so people can’t complain to the DoT about their trains being late? But it also means the other issues with Sydney’s rail network are going to be left in the too hard basket for longer.

  73. Ray says:

    Bambul, I respect your opinions, but I don’t share your view that Macquarie Park will develop into a more compact higher density area. I have grown up in the area over more than half a century, so I have an intrinsic appreciation of how the area has developed from a greenbelt urban buffer zone to the business park environment that it is today. I also come from a property background. I don’t foresee any change in that status for well into the future, if ever. It is a car oriented business park period and I don’t foresee a change any time soon. The Norwest Business Park is the same.

    A significant proportion of the Macquarie Park region has been redeveloped in recent times for business park oriented complexes, which are not conducive to public transport usage. It will be many years before it is economically viable to redevelop these sites. Even then, it will still be widely dispersed and you couldn’t compare it with the more traditional compact business centres of Parramatta, North Sydney, Chatswood and St Leonards. It’s a myth if you think that Macquarie Park will become a high density urban centre, though it will still undoubtedly be a significant employment region. Forget about the Government’s spin, the Macquarie Park region could be more than adequately serviced by the existing double deck network. It’s all about ideology, rather than an objective, transparent appraisal.

    In response to Simon, although it’s now academic, having the NWRL with the option of running to the CBD via Chatswood or Strathfield would have delayed the need for the second harbour crossing, even if some services would have to terminate at Central. They would be direct services to the CBD without the need to change. That has to be a positive outcome. The upper Northern Line would be better served if it connected with its previously longstanding traditional community integration on the Northern Line south of Epping.

  74. BTW, completely of topic butin case anyone is interested, some pics of my trip on the Old Ghan:

  75. @TTR –

    What’s the percentage of passengers on most lines who go into the CBD during peak hour? I don’t have the exact figure, but I’d guess 80%-90% wouldn’t be far off. So the 50%-60% projected for the NWRL is actually quite low. That is because this corridor (the global economic corridor) is unique.

    And don’t forget that the CBD only accounts for 15% of employment, with other centres (many located on the global economic corridor) accounting for about half the remainder. Of those using public transport to get to work, about half of those using public transport go into the CBD, with most of the remaining half going to centres. But that’s also a supply and service factor: build public transport and people will take the bus/train, build roads/car parks and people will drive.

    Here you have the opportunity to build a new high frequency line along the global corridor to push for that increase in public transport usage for quite a large number of centres, allowing them to increase density. However, it is anchored by access into the CBD. It will act as both a radial AND a circumferencial link. This is something else that is often overlooked. It does both.

    @Ray –

    With 3 train stations, each about 1km apart, there is ample opportunity to significantly densify big chunks of it over coming decades. Many sites currently use 50% of their land for parking, which is the case due to poor high capacity public transport. It’s a chicken and egg situation. If you don’t provide good public transport, it shouldn’t be a surprise when workers choose to drive. If you do provide good public transport and remove the constraint on businesses to provide a parking space for every employee then those businesses will get rid of their low rise office block and build two high rise office towers in its place.

    But this change cannot be achieved when the maximum frequency is 4 or even 8 trains per hour. This isn’t enough from either a frequency or capacity perspective. So if SRT doesn’t happen, then I think your prediction is much more likely to happen. With it, you have a catalyst for growth

  76. JC says:

    @Ray: If it is well managed, the conversion of the inner lines to a more frequent service could be done progressively. As I said, much of it is already separate (or separable) from the outer, suburban bits. The separation could be made complete; the exiting stock replaced by single-deck muti-door trains, the signalling and communications improved, and frequencies gradually increased – and even interpolating soem extra stations (e/g/ between St Peters and Sydenham to serve Marrickville Metro). All this could be done gragually and without closures – and it would end up a bit like the London Overground, the Berlin or Munich S-bahn, or the Tokyo Yamanote line all of which run near metro services integrated with heavy rail infreastructure.

    But other options e.g. metro or light metro conversion would be more disruptive, but could deliver longer term benefits (as in SW London, Manchester, Newcastle UK, and Melbourne St Kilda and S. Melbourne lines) so should not be ruled out. I suspect the closures and disruption during constuction in these places is long forgotten.

  77. JC says:

    At risk of agreeing (or disagreeing) with everyone, I share both Ray’s scepticism and Bambul’s oprtimism about the NW line. With the right infrastructure, it is amazing how quickly property developers can transform business-park style development ito something more urban. London Docklands is the best example – but Chatswood, Mascot etc also show the same signs. So Maquarie Park is probably fine and will fairly quickly grow into its infratructure.

    However, I don’t really think the western half of the line will ever be more than a commuter line to the CBD/Chatswood/MP for the car-driving, McMansion-dwelling suburbanites that now populate the area.

  78. Simon says:

    Regarding bambul’s comment that the Macquarie employment area is unique, that is clearly untrue. Aren’t you able to look at the stats ( Parramatta clearly does better than all three stations combined by about a factor of two wrt 6am to 9:30am station exits. Now it may be true that the SRT line will transform the area but that remains to be seen and it certainly is not true now. Without tight parking restrictions I do not think there will be much change in car dependence in the area with or without SRT.

  79. @Simon –

    Let’s compare the two: Parramatta gets over 30 trains an hour in the AM peak, whereas Macquarie Park gets 12. Are you at all surprised that a higher capacity and better frequency service results in a higher uptake by passengers?

    When the NWRL is running 30 trains an hour, you’ll see patronage start to increase at Macquarie Park. Then when development densities it to the same level as Parramatta (thanks to increased capacity and frequency), you’ll see that gap narrow even further.

  80. Simon says:

    I do not think that is big factor. The 8tph from Chatswood is plenty and the 4tph from Epping is adequate. Feeding more people into Epping will help the rail use though.

  81. Simon says:

    Ray wrote: “In response to Simon, although it’s now academic, having the NWRL with the option of running to the CBD via Chatswood or Strathfield would have delayed the need for the second harbour crossing, even if some services would have to terminate at Central. They would be direct services to the CBD without the need to change. That has to be a positive outcome. The upper Northern Line would be better served if it connected with its previously longstanding traditional community integration on the Northern Line south of Epping.

    Well I do not agree. The sextup between Strathfield and Central could not handle the upper northern line and the full weight of the NWRL for long if at all. Then why not just send the upper northern line via Strathfield and the NWRL via Chatswood? BTW, I also disagree with your statement that the upper northern line is better via Strathfield. I cannot see what that comment is based on at all other than “it was always done that way”.

  82. Todd says:

    What Bambul is saying re Macquarie Park isn’t a prediction about it overtaking North Sydney isn’t a prediction, it is fact.

    The same people carrying on with this nonsense about the place are the same people who say that 30000 people will never live in Green Square. Guys it is happening, deal with it.

  83. QPP says:

    I’m inclined to believe aggressive predictions about Mac Park as well. I work on the park at the moment and there ARE tight parking restrictions. Yes, most of the office developments have car parking but in most cases there are way more people working in the offices than have car parking spaces. I know precisely how many in my team have parking as I decided who got the passes. There are 8 times as many people as car parking spaces. The streets of the development area are covered in quite expensive 12 hour ticket parking zones that are full by 8am. Surrounding streets on the other side of Lane Cove and Epping Roads with free parking, a 15 or 20 minute walk to most offices, are full by the same hour

    And there are 3 or 4 fairly substantial developments going on at the moment and 2 big sites that are being offered up. The character of the area is changing quite rapidly, and no, it’s nothing like Norwest already. The idea that it’s low rise commercial with ample parking is just, well, wrong tbh

  84. Ray says:

    All I will say is that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, so let’s just wait and see how it pans out. I can never see 30tph being justified on the NWRL though. If a branch to the Northern Beaches eventuates, then it certainly would be through the CBD spine, but that’s still many years away.

  85. JC says:

    Even if MP provides good JTW “destinations” on the NWRL, I wonder whether if there will be access to enough “origins” – even with the second harbour crossing. It will work well for people from the eastern suburbs and north shore – but for inner west, canterbury-bankstown, western sydney residents, going via the CBD will seem like a very long way round. I can’t see it working without good feeder services e.g. a high frequency Epping-Rhodes-Inner West service? PERL?

  86. Greg says:

    I think I recall reading the line is to be designed (signalling, power) for 20tph, with 30tph through the core. Obviously that can be upgraded later, but that is unlikely as a Northern Beaches branch will likely happen (even if only as far as an interchange at Neutral Bay or Spit Junction).

    The highest I have ever seen it planned to operate was in one of the earlier leaked documents that had it at 18tph shared with 12tph on a Northern Beaches/Neutral Bay branch.

    If you doubt the development that is to occur along the NWRL and ECRL in the coming years, take a look at this:

    This includes priority planning districts including high density housing and employment around stations at North Ryde, Macquarie Uni, Epping, Showground, Bella Vista, Kellyville. I’m sure this is only the beginning.

  87. QPP says:

    The PPP has committed the operator (and therefore the design) to provide 15tph at peak to begin with, but with the ability to expand to 30tph without service interruption

  88. @Ray –

    For 30TPH, I was referring to both directions. The NWRL will have 15TPH in each direction on opening. That’s 30TPH total in both directions. It was to compare to Parramatta, which currently has just over 30TPH combined in both directions.

  89. Simon says:

    Parramatta has 19tph towards Harris Park (2tph Cumberland, 4tph Central (i) from the Blue Mountains and 13tph to Town Hall) 8:00am to 8:59am at Parramatta

    And 14tph from Harris Park (2tph Cumberland, 1tph Blue Mountains and 11tph from Town Hall) 8:01am to 9:00am at Parrmatta

    I thought the Cumberland line was bolstered to 4tph in peak? What happened?

    So I guess bambul’s figure is right, even if it’s slightly surprising.

  90. Simon says:

    QPP, sounds like Ryde Council has really pulled their fingers out! I had a look for parking rates and found these maps:

  91. Ray says:

    Just a diversion, have now become aware that the feasibility reports carried out by Parramatta Council for the Western Sydney Light Rail Network are no longer available online. This is no doubt due to a recent resolution in February by Council to ignore the recommendations of their very expensive feasibility study for the initial preferred route to be from Westmead to Macquarie Park via Eastwood and Castle Hill to Rydalmere.

    Council has instead resolved to support a route from Westmead to Epping via Carlingford without any plausible explanation for its change in attitude, despite the obvious difficulty in extending the route along the 4-lane sections of Pennant Hills Rd and Carlingford Rd.. This route was eliminated in the early stages of the feasibility study and wasn’t even on the final shortlist of options. Council has recommended future extensions to Macquarie Park (whatever that means), Bankstown and Sydney Olympic Park.

    An extension of the light rail from Epping to Macquarie Park would be a complete waste of resources, only duplicating the existing ECRL, whereas the route via Eastwood would provide a more direct connection from Parramatta to Macquarie Park in an existing transport reservation servicing a separate under resourced area as an extension of the Global Economic corridor.

    This reeks of a Government ploy, supported by a Liberal Lord Mayor, to stifle debate, in their usual closed mindset, rather than providing a more transparent overview of objective transport planning, instead of supporting vested interests.

  92. Simon says:

    Interesting Ray. Parra seem to be one of the better councils too. You wonder what motivated this decision – seems almost certain that a councillor stands to benefit from it. “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”

  93. “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”

    And if you pay truffles, you get pigs. You’re better off with the monkeys.

  94. Ray says:

    @Simon –
    Further to my previous post with regard to the Parramatta Light Rail, the only justification in Parramatta Council’s Lord Mayoral Minute to change its policy on its preferred route for the light rail link from Parramatta to Macquarie Park is a brief background note including the following:-

    “Recent discussions with the Mayor of The Hills Shire, and State and Federal Parliamentary Members have supported the concept of the preferred first stage to be from Parramatta to Epping (connecting Westmead, Parramatta North and Camellia). This first stage would take advantage of using the existing heavy rail corridor all the way from Camellia to Carlingford and is consistent with Council’s original position of connecting Parramatta to Macquarie Park and Parramatta to Norwest/Castle Hill (depending on detailed investigations) being a later stage”.

    No mention of the recommendations in their own feasibility study, which have been completely ignored, for the route via Eastwood; no mention of the fact that the Carlingford/Epping route was eliminated early in the study and which was ranked as last for the Macquarie Park options; no supporting evidence to justify a change in the preferred option other than a “discussion” with the Mayor of The Hills Shire and State and Federal Parliamentary Members; and not exactly consistent with Council’s original position. It’s a complete sham. No wonder the electorate mistrusts the current bunch of politicians. The most galling point is that Ryde Council also supports this about face and hasn’t even got the decency or inclination to defend its own patch (Eastwood), which is not surprising, because through its intransigence it has consistently stifled the development of Eastwood, which is a larger retail/commercial centre than Epping. But that’s another story.

    What concerns me is that once the government announces its preferred route for the light rail link, and it may not necessarily be to Macquarie Park, community debate will be compromised because the original feasibility study is no longer available to the public.

    Anyone who has read the feasibility study would find it difficult to reconcile its recommendations with the current government and council positions.

  95. Greg says:

    While I agree with most of the comments about the preferred route being via Eastwood for all of the reason mentioned, from an operational perspective going via Carlingford eliminates a branch which is a small positive.

    I can’t recall why via Carlingford was eliminated early on (I did read it quite a while ago) but the constraint of running along a 4 lane road is in large part political. Maybe TfNSW is planning on bulldozing the political opposition to taking 2 of the 4 lanes on Calingford Rd for the operational benefit of eliminating a branch and the connectivity benefit of connecting Carlingford and Epping developments to the line and enhancing connectivity to Castle Hill via the NWRL?

    Just thinking out loud here, not necessarily supporting this position.

  96. Greg says:

    I tracked down copies of the reports. Grab them while you can (not that the internet archive is going anywhere any time soon!)

    Click to access Western_Sydney_Light_Rail_Feasibility_Report_-_Part_1.pdf

    Click to access Western_Sydney_Light_Rail_-_Part_2.pdf

  97. Simon says:

    You seem to be saying that you’d get a higher level of corruption if you increased salaries. Difficult to see how that is the case. Seems like it would have a slight negative effect. Why would you risk jail to get an extra million when you already have a million.

  98. JC says:

    [getting seriously off-piste here] Simon,
    Bankers, Packers and Murdochs are all the evidence you need that having lots of money is no disincentive to doing dodgy stuff to get more. The truffles/pigs analogy – which I had not heard before, but has now entered my repetoire – is incredibly insightful. We are always told that we need to pay the tops of our organisations lots pf money or they will go elsewhere. We should let them go – the sort of people who are only motivated by lots of money are not the people we want running our economy – especially in the public sector.

  99. I wouldn’t be opposed to a Westmead to Carlingford line as stage 1, forming a central core of a larger future network. Then an extension of that line to Macquarie Park via Eastwood as stage 2.

    You could then remove Clyde Station and keep Rosehill Station open for special event services from Central like with Olympic Park.

    I believe this was proposed by Parramatta Council in their initial feasibility study, but modified to remove a Carlingford branch in the second and final report.

  100. JC says:

    …or even a Clyde to Carlingford line as a stage zero. It would provide an improvement on the existing service, and get the ball rolling.

  101. Ray says:

    @Greg –
    Thanks for the link. I already have the hard copies of the feasibility study, but it’s handy to also have access to them online.

    Just to refresh your memory, the reasons given for eliminating the routes via Carlingford and Epping were as follows:-

    Option 2a (Parramatta – Macquarie Park via Pennant Hills Rd & Epping) – this alignment scored very closely with the others, however, was a lower rated option for the Parramatta to Macquarie Park options, where it did not achieve a high level of benefit in any one category and suffered a bit more than the others on cost and implementation.

    Option 2d (Parramatta – Macquarie Park via Carlingford Line & Carlingford Road) – similar to 2a above, this alignment scored very closely with the others, however, was the lowest rated option for the Parramatta to Macquarie Park options with lower scores on the environmental criteria.

    This no doubt referred to the difficulty in imposing a light rail line on the existing 4-lane sections of the already congested Pennant Hills Rd, Carlingford Rd and Epping Rd through the Epping Town Centre. It is unthinkable that this could ever be contemplated. The alternative is for wholesale resumption along this route for a widened corridor, which previously hadn’t been foreshadowed, compared with an existing more direct and widened Kissing Point Rd corridor and the Eastwood County Rd reservation.

    I acknowledge that the existing Carlingford Line infrastructure has some influence on the preferred route option, but even so it was still discounted in the final route recommendation. The Eastwood route would still utilize the Carlingford Line from Camellia to Dundas. This debate is a rerun of the early planning for the Chatswood to Parramatta Rail link, when the cheapest and longer route (by 3km) to Parramatta via Epping and Carlingford was preferred to the more direct route via Eastwood. The Eastwood route, although more expensive because of additional tunnellng, included an option for a Y-link between Epping and Eastwood which would also have allowed for direct services from Hornsby and Epping to Parramatta. Another example of compromised transport planning.

    @Bambul –
    You have a point. I wouldn’t be opposed either to a first stage from Parramatta to Carlingford with a later extension from Dundas to Macquarie Park via Eastwood. This makes perfect sense.

    I think it is significant that in the government’s initial options for the Parramatta Light Rail network, it didn’t mention a Macquarie Park route via Carlingford to include Epping, which you would think would be a logical extension of this route. Perhaps they are keeping their options open.

  102. Greg says:

    Thanks Ray.

    Looking at the scoring, some of it looks a bit iffy and unsubstantiated. I’d like to see the reasoning behind some of the scores. The scores didn’t come out THAT differently for the different options, and the via Eastwood option does seem to assume that the Carlingford line keeps operating train services, with the light rail route alongside the existing track rather than taking over. That is probably something that changed when it went inside TfNSW for further planning and investigation.

    The reality is that if they are willing to take 2 lanes of Carlingford and Epping Roads and give the light rail proper priority, the route isn’t too bad. It is just the impact on the road capacity that would be the issue – I’m assuming in scoring the options they assumed they would never get that through. If the government is willing to bulldoze that through RMS and the community, I’m not going to complain.

    On talk of resumptions (and I’m once again just thinking out loud here) if they were to resume every property on the north side of Calingford Rd, that would be about 100-120 properties. Lets be generous and assume $2 million each. They could resume the entire north side of the street for under $250 million, widen the road to proper width with light rail down the middle, and then rezone either side of the nice new transit boulevard for medium density development for the entire length. Developers would come in and start snapping up properties along the entire length of the route and at this point the Government could sell the residual land back to developers at a price greater than they paid for it.

    If you had a real confident government you could actually take that a step further and resume 2 blocks deep on each side of the road (about 500 properties for about $1 billion) and then actually lead the redevelopment yourself to capture the uplift in value.

    Unlikely to happen, just food for thought.

  103. Greg says:

    Actually between Pennant Hills Rd and Pennant Parade it looks like there would be room (just) to widen the road to allow 4 lanes + light rail. That leaves the Pennant Parade to Epping section, which has about 80 properties along it on the north side. The prices also look to be considerably less than $2 million – property acquisition could probably be achieved for $120 – $150 million, and then on sold at the end to developers.

    Now what you do at the Epping end is another question. Avoiding Beecroft Rd would be good if possible. You can’t go under the rail line at the Carlingford Rd/Beecroft Rd intersection due to the ECRL dives (and difference in level on each side of the rail line) but perhaps you could approach the intersection on a rising bridge, over the intersection and rail line to connect with a light rail stop next to the station on Cambridge St. You would then run along Pembroke St until Epping Rd, and from here to Macquarie Park Epping Rd would be able to be widened, or use existing bus lanes.

  104. Simon says:

    To continue the OT convo, I don’t think the salary is a big factor in corruption. The bigger factor is locking up the corrupt.

  105. Simon says:

    What existing bus lanes Greg @1:31am?

  106. Ray says:

    There is no rational reason why a light rail line from Parramatta to Macquarie Park has to take the Carlingford/Epping route other than a desire to utilize most of the Carlingford Line, even though it is longer. The route via Eastwood could satisfy all of the operational requirements equal to or better than that via Epping. The Eastwood route would have an interchange with the North West Rapid Transit at Macquarie University connecting directly to Parramatta and with the Upper Northern Line at Eastwood. If a Carlingford/Epping route is chosen, then it’s unlikely to go past Epping, so a change would be required to complete the whole journey.

    I can’t see the point in buying up large tracts of land along Pennant Hills Rd, Carlingford Rd and Epping Rd (if it got that far) to widen the corridor to accommodate the light rail tracks, when a ready made existing widened corridor via Eastwood is staring them in the face. The government already owns most of the land along the latter corridor with only minimal resumptions being required. There’s absolutely no chance that a Carlingford Rd route would be imposed on the existing 4-lane road corridor.

    I just don’t get this obsession about everything having to go through Epping, when it’s not ideally located on the most logical direct route between Parramatta and Macquarie Park. Eastwood seems to have become a no-go zone for new transport infrastructure, although I suggest it has more redevelopment potential than Epping. If the government has no intention of utilizing the County Rd reservation after 60 years since it was gazetted, then they should just sell it off and be done with it.

    The difficulty of running a light rail line through the centre of Epping with all of its existing traffic congestion, has been grossly underestimated.

  107. Simon says:

    Please no to selling off the reservation. That’s been done before with disastrous results.

  108. QPP says:

    Totally agree Ray wrt Epping. It’s a mess traffic-wise, and one that’s very hard to make an unmess, especially with planned development

  109. Ray says:

    Simon, I wasn’t seriously suggesting that the County Rd reservation be sold off. I was just venting my frustration at the refusal of successive governments, including Labor, to acknowledge its existence and utilize it for enhanced transport links, whether road, bus rapid transit or light rail, as the most logical and direct route for an extension of the Global Economic Corridor from Macquarie Park to Parramatta. Epping is on the North West axis from Macquarie Park to the North West Growth Centre and Eastwood is on the South West axis from Macquarie Park to Parramatta (including the Greater West) as well as a direct link to Bankstown via Silverwater Rd.

    I might be biased, but I still think Eastwood has had a raw real, when it has become invisible as far as government transport planners have been concerned, even though it was the pre-eminent retail/commercial centre in the Northern Districts before the development of Macquarie Park usurped its role.

  110. michblogs says:

    Quieter than a mouse. I hope bambul is ok.

  111. Just busy! It also feels pretty light on news. So been taking a break.

  112. Nat says:

    Events in Indonesia and Nepal may have stolen the limelight but it’s still been a newsworthy week in transport and its ally, climate change. The dates below are from the Sydney Morning Herald alone –

    20.4 – China and US questioned Australia’s credibility on climate change.
    20.4 – Matt King, Prof. of Pllar Geodesy at Uni of Tas. said it appears the retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is now irreversible.
    25.4 – 54% of respondents think higher density living in Inner Sydney is a good solution to transport problems.(Herald Readers Panel)
    25.4 – Japan’s maglev train reached 603kph.
    25.4 – Abbott copped a bagging for a $4M funding of climate sceptic Bjorn Lomborg.
    25.4 – Major Clover Moore said transport decisions on access to Green Square needed to be made urgently.
    26.4 – Severe storms (climate change?) batter the state budget.
    28.4 – Evocities, a local government coalition, said two thirds of people who relocate to regional areas can reduce their commute time to less than 10 minutes daily.
    28.4 – Consultants SGS Economics said WestConnex would make traffic on Parramatta Road worse, by up to 22%.
    30.4 – Committee for Sydney’s Tim Williams lambasted both state and federal governments (again) for their roads-focussed infrastructure plans for capital cities.

  113. Matthew Chan says:

    In light of dissection of Bankstown, Lidcombe and Liverpool lines (internet search found, what is the possibility of Birrong to Hurstville via Strathfield along the above proposal as SD metro, or a Birrong Hursville DD circle as in Birrong, Strathfield, Hurstville and Riverwood with connections to Campbelltown and Levinton?

    What would the implication of having a inner CBD metro circle drilling under tall buildings with basements and hills?

  114. Matthew Gee Kwun Chan says:

    Enter your comment here…Actually, in relations to previous post, I prefer if it go through Rockdale, Bexley, Bexley North and Clempton Park possibly one block east of Bexley Road.

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