2017 timetable (part 1): Morning peak

Posted: September 2, 2017 in Transport
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Two thirds of stations on the Sydney Trains network will enjoy a train to the city every 15 minutes during most hours of the day on both weekdays and weekends under a revamp of the train timetable set to be implemented in late November. The plans will also see a boost to peak hour services, with the number of trains entering Sydney´s CBD stations increasing to 114 during the busiest hour of the morning; a 3.6% increase on the existing 110 trains per hour, while Liverpool will see the addition of fast express trains into the city during the morning peak.

The new timetable is accompanied by a new network map (shown above), which was reviewed by the Transit Maps website.

All up, an additional 1,500 services are being added per week. Half of these during the weekend. For comparison, the 2013 timetable changes saw an increase of 700 services per week, with no change to the weekend timetable. The increase in service levels will be supported by a $1.5bn capital investment, the largest part of which will be the purchase of an additional 24 Waratah trains. This will increase the existing fleet of Waratahs trains from 78 to 102.

This post will look at how the changes affect the morning peak hour. A future post will focus at the off-peak.

The Good

The number of trains into the city from Parramatta is set to increase from 20TPH (Trains Per Hour) to 24TPH. If the 4TPH on the Blue Mountains Line which stop at Parramatta but terminate at Central´s Sydney Terminal are included, Parramatta will soon see 28TPH into Central Station during the busiest hour of the morning peak.

It achieves this by extending the T2 Inner West Line to Parramatta, with 4TPH on that line now starting at Parramatta rather than Homebush. This was one of the few ways to increase capacity into the city from Parramatta, as the Western Line is currently at maximum capacity of 20TPH.

The new timetable then resolves the issue of overcrowding on the T2 Line from additional passengers boarding at Parramatta by adding an adding additional capacity on the T2 Leppington Line and T3 Bankstown Line. It is able to do this as these both run into the City Circle, which is the only line with significant spare capacity. The City Circle currently uses 34 out of the 40 paths (that being 20TPH in each direction) available during the busiest hour of the morning peak. The new timetable adds an additional 4TPH into the city, meaning that 38 paths out of a potential 40 will now be used. As a result, the T3 Bankstown Line will see an increase from 8TPH to 10TPH, and the T2 Leppington And Inner West Line will see an increase from 12TPH to 14TPH. This should, in theory, offset the loss of 4TPH to Parramatta.

The Bad

The increase in services through the City Circle now mean that Sydney’s city stations are one step away from being full during peak hour, with 114 of the available 120 paths on the 3 CBD lines being used up. This is 95% of maximum capacity.

With demand on the rail network currently growing at a rate of 10% per year, there is a risk that the network will reach capacity well before additional rail capacity comes online in 7 years when the Sydney Metro is extended through under the CBD in 2024.

The only other viable stop gap would appear to be an increase in services into Sydney Terminal. Internal government plans prepared in 2014 show this could increase capacity into Central Station by 16% during the busy morning peak, but it would cut many direct services between the city and Sydney´s outer suburbs. The current timetable goes part of the way in doing this by rerouting some T1 Richmond Line services through to the T5 Cumberland Line, but for now Richmond retains direct services into the city.

The Ugly

The T2 and T3 lines will now have some very unusual stopping patterns during the morning peak. Some stations on theT3 Bankstown Line will now have a 19 minute gap between services during the morning peak. This seems designed to cater for the new Liverpool express services.

It is unusual because this undoes part of what the 2013 timetable changes aimed to do: simplify the timetable to create regular clockface timetable. Strangely, those same stations still enjoy regular 15-minute clock face frequencies during the off peak hours of the day.

To complicate things even further, there is a possibility that these unusual stopping patterns will not survive past 2024, when the Sydney Metro City and Southwest absorbs the Bankstown Line.

  1. For an increasingly busy station like Auburn it seems the half hour wait black spots during the middle of the day have been eliminated.
    The addition of direct services from the west to inner west stations is a welcome innovation.

  2. In the above network map, they still haven’t learned how to properly label the services. What exactly is the T1 line, for example? It should be T11 for Hornsby – Epping – Chatswood – CBD – Penrith and T12 for Hornsby – Epping – Chatswood – CBD – Richmond.

  3. Tandem Train Rider says:

    >In the above network map, they still haven’t learned how to properly label the services.
    > What exactly is the T1 line, for example? It should be
    > T11 for Hornsby – Epping – Chatswood – CBD – Penrith and
    > T12 for Hornsby – Epping – Chatswood – CBD – Richmond.

    Personally, I’d like to see something like 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D for the stopping patterns on each sector. I l know it’s just a name, but this would impose some sort of stopping pattern discipline on the timetabler.

    As I tweeted @Bambul, a lot of problems could be solved if we could implement 2.5min headways. It would address the capacity issues (for a short time), but also allow 10min service frequencies with just one stopping pattern. You could also drop back to 4.25min headways out of peak for everyone to get a 15min service.

  4. The Guy21 says:

    One solution to help the overcrowding issues is the Sydenham-Erksinville sextup, and a
    Homebush-Lidcombe/Parramatta sextuplets.

  5. tjejojyj says:

    How will the turn around the Inner-West services at Parramatta given there are only four platforms? (At Homebush they use a spare platform to all the Main South services to run through).
    Thanks for the update.

  6. @tjejojyj –

    I’m speculating here, but platforms 3 and 4 seem set to be used by T2 Inner West Line and T5 Cumberland Line trains. I think that’s something like 4-8TPH, depending on time of day, which should be infrequent enough to allow trains to turn back without blocking the path of the train behind them. Again, I’m speculating a bit here.

    In the long run I would personally extend T2 trains all the way to Richmond and remove that line entirely from T1. Though maybe only after Sydney Metro West is finished. Partly a thought bubble on my part there.

  7. zen says:

    how is ‘enjoy a train to the city every 15 minutes’ a thing in 2017? 15 minutes is abyssmal in peak times. I live in granville where there are 2 eastbound lanes – only one of which is used in the morning now since the libs came in. its not faster at all to get to the city in 2017, than it was in 2015 – in fact it is slower as express services have dropped.

  8. Cutting the Inner West Line at Homebush in 2013 proven largely ineffective. WIth the Inner West Line going to Parramatta, services ought to be be reinstated to Liverpool via Regents Park.

    Liverpool actually has 30% less fast trains in the weekday morning peak. Currently there are 13 fast trains on T2 South Line (54 minutes) to City. The new timetable introduces fast trains (also 54 minutes) on the T3 Bankstown Line (which will be faster than T2) but there are only 9 such services between 7-9am.

    Stations on the T3 Bankstown Line between Sefton and Carramar continue to suffer from a lack of train services. These stations west of Bankstown still have massive service gaps from the 2013 removal of the Liverpool via Regents Park train and no improvements in the 2017 timetable.

  9. Hisashi says:

    Given how Parramatta is growing to become Sydney’s second CBD, and the recent addition of T2 services, I’m wondering why an addition of an extra pair of tracks/platforms to the station isn’t on the proverbial drawing board. Ideally, as The Guy21 mentioned, I think the same development would also warrant securing a corridor/funds/drawn plans for an extra pair of tracks from Homebush (if not done already).

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