Posts Tagged ‘Timetable’

The Sydney Trains network contains 178 stations. 25 of these stations have all day 10 minute frequencies. This is mostly in the CBD, Eastern Suburbs, Airport Line, and Lower North Shore Line.

The Sydney Trains network map showing all stations and also just the stations with a train every 10 minutes all day. (Source: Sydney Trains.)

The Sydney Trains network map showing all stations and also just the stations with a train every 10 minutes all day. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Trains.)

Prior to 2013 this high frequency network was even smaller, consisting only of the 9 stations on the T4 Line between Wolli Creek and Bondi Junction. This remains the case on weekends, with the 2013 timetable improvements only applying to weekdays and not weekends.

In addition, the T1 Line between Strathfield and Chatswood does have some 11 minute gaps which have been counted as 10 minute frequencies even though the technically do not meet the strict 10 minute criteria. But stations like Hurstville in the South and Parramatta in the West, serviced by 7 and 9 trains per hour respectively, do have 10 minute frequencies if measured at Central Station; however different stopping patterns prevent them from having evenly spread out 10 minute frequencies outside of the CBD.

This distinction is important; as a rule of thumb passengers generally value waiting time twice as much as their travel time. The result of this is that a passenger would rather spend 25 minutes travelling on a train than 10 minutes waiting for a train followed by 10 minutes on the train. The 10 minute waiting time is worth the same as 20 minutes of actual travel time, therefore the second option feels like a 30 minute journey and so passengers would often opt for the first option of 25 minutes. This is even though the first option involves a longer total journey time.

Hypothetical high frequency network achievable by changing stopping patterns rather than adding extra services. (Source: Sydney Trains.)

Hypothetical high frequency network achievable by changing stopping patterns rather than adding extra services. Click to enlarge. (Source: Sydney Trains.)

This high frequency network could hypothetically be expanded by changing the stopping patterns of some trains. This eliminates the need to provide additional services, though may sometimes necessitate additional train revenue service hours. This is not an exhaustive list. For example it leaves out stations like Newtown which could achieve 10 minute frequencies by having all T2 Line trains stop there, rather than just the current 15 minute frequencies resulting from half the T2 Line trains that do stop there.

  1. T1 trains that stop at Strathfield to also stop at Burwood. There are technically trains every 10 minutes at Burwood, but the T2 trains are so slow that they arrive in the CBD after the T1 trains. So what is needed here is for some more of the 13 T1 Line trains that stop at Strathfield every hour to also stop at Burwood.
  2. T4 trains that stop at Sydenham/Wolli Creek to also stop at Tempe. The trains that skip Tempe are not timetabled to run any faster than those that stop there, so this could be done without slowing down the timetable.
  3. T1 and T5 trains between Blacktown and Harris Park to add stops at intermediate stations spaced evenly apart. While the T1 Line has 7 trains per hour passing through this section of the network, there are also 2 trains per hour on the T5 Line, resulting in 9 trains per hour in total. This would not provide 10 minute frequencies into the CBD, but would provide 10 minute frequencies for those getting a train to/from Parramatta or Blacktown.

The Sydney Trains network actually looks a lot better when all day 15 minute frequencies are the benchmark. 113 stations out of 178 (63%) have 15 minute frequencies. This is high enough for turn up and go journeys when only 1 train is required. However, if a transfer is required; such as to another train or between bus and train; then 10 minute frequencies are a much better benchmark for turn up and go services.

Sydney Metro proposed alignment. Click to enlarge. (Source: Project Overview, Sydney Metro.)

Sydney Metro proposed alignment. Click to enlarge. (Source: Project Overview, Sydney Metro.)

Meanwhile, the 10 minute frequency network is set to expand dramatically in 2019 and then 2024 when the 2 stages of the Sydney Metro project are scheduled to begin operation. This new line will also run at 10 minute all day frequencies, and extend these frequencies further out into the outer suburbs of Sydney than is currently the case.

Hits

Happy New Year. 2013 has been an eventful one. This blog received almost 138 thousand hits during a year in which:

In the coming year, we can look forward to the opening of the Inner West Light Rail extension to Dulwich Hill and the completion of the Opal rollout (currently scheduled for the end of 2014). Meanwhile, expect the major parties to begin to announce their transport plans ahead of the next state election in early 2015, with things like a Second Harbour rail crossing, a Western Sydney light rail network, Bus Rapid Transit for the Northern Beaches, and potentially plans to privatise the state owned electricity transmission network as a means to pay for all the much needed infrastructure all likely to feature prominently.

But until then, here are some of the major events and stories from the past year, as posted, shared and commented about on this blog —

Posts with the most hits

  1. Draft 2013 timetable (part 1): Introduction 20 May 2013 (7,959 hits)
  2. 2013 timetable re-write (part 3): Untangling the network 22 February 2013 (4,844 hits)
  3. What the 2013 timetable might look like 13 May 2013 (3,908 hits)
  4. Draft 2013 timetable (part 2): AM Peak 22 May 2013 (1,430 hits)
  5. WestConnex plan finalised 19 September 2013 (1,296)

The new timetable drove a lot of traffic to this blog over the previous year, particularly when a draft of the timetable was leaked in May.

Posts with the most comments

  1. 17km Macquarie Park light rail proposed by Parramatta Council 30 August 2013 (50 comments)
  2. How might the NWRL work? 16 October 2013 (49 comments)
  3. Should the North West Rail Link be a metro? 8 February 2013 (47 comments)
  4. How might the CBD and SE Light Rail work? 9 October 2013 (46 comments)
  5. North West Rail Link – policy or politics? 11 June 2013 (43 comments)

The clear thing in common here is the North West Rail Link (NWRL), which tends to generate a lot of discussion back and forth in the comments section. The post on the Macquarie Park light rail was the most commented on post and not actually about the NWRL, but the comments soon shifted towards discussing the NWRL.

Posts with the most activity on social media

  1. All Day Challenge (October 2013), 1 October 2013 (89 shares on Facebook and 3 tweets on Twitter)
  2. Draft 2013 timetable (part 2): AM Peak 22 May 2013 (43 shares on Facebook and 8 tweets on Twitter)
  3. The worst sort of NIMBY 25 September 2013 (27 shares on Facebook and 6 tweets on Twitter)
  4. Opal running 4 months ahead of schedule 28 August 2013 (31 shares on Facebook 2 tweets on Twitter)
  5. Western Sydney makes its case for an airport of its own 15 February 2013 (11 shares on Facebook and 9 tweets on Twitter)

This probably understates the level of sharing over Twitter as tweets are only counted once, regardless of how many times that one tweet may be re-tweeted, whereas Facebook shares are each counted uniquely. That said, the most shared posts have tended to be driven by shares on Facebook rather than tweets on Twitter.

Most searched terms

  1. westconnex (635 searches)
  2. cityrail map (323 searches)
  3. westconnex map (257 searches)
  4. transport sydney (170 searches)
  5. sydney train map (170 searches)

WestConnex was by far the biggest generator of hits from web searches, with the home page being the destination rather than the post itself (preventing those posts about WestConnex from ranking higher) and reflects the fact that the car remains the primary mode of transport for Sydney residents. This is in contrast to activity in the comments section and social media, both of which are more likely to be transport enthusiasts, neither of which had WestConnex in their respective top 5 for the year.

This does perhaps provide a reminder to some advocates of public transport (the writer of this blog included) that there remains some disconnect between them and the regular person on the street when it comes to enthusiasm for public transport and dislike of cars or roads.

The opening of the South West Rail Link (SWRL) connecting Leppington to Glenfield will result in the biggest change to the Sydney Trains timetable since the just implemented 2013 timetable came into effect in October (all figures below are based on this newly introduced timetable). The major question over how it will be integrated into the network revolves around the need for rolling stock.

The government has recently passed up the opportunity to increase its fleet of Waratah trains by an additional 8 to 12 above the currently planned 78 trains. These additional trains would allow the network to operate entirely with air conditioned trains, and without them it will instead have to operate some of the older S-Set trains (which are currently being phased out for lacking air conditioning). The government is retaining about 24 of the S-Set trains for this.

The non-air conditioned trains may not necessarily operate on the SWRL, and which ever line they do end up on will probably only use them during peak hour when the need for trains is at its highest.

Map of the SWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Glenfield Transport Interchange Review of Environmental Factors, page 2)

Map of the SWRL. Click to enlarge. (Source: Glenfield Transport Interchange Review of Environmental Factors, page 2)

The amount of rolling stock requires will depend on which line the SWRL will be connected to. One option involves running the SWRL via the East Hills and Airport Line. In the morning peak there are currently 2 East Hills Line trains per hour starting from East Hills, running limited stops to the CBD via the Airport, which could be doubled to 4 and then extended to Glenfield to link up to the SWRL. This has the advantage of being fast (42 minutes from Glenfield to Central), being relatively uncrowded (the East Hills and Airport Line could have approximately 109 passengers per 100 seats after the October 2013 timetable is implemented), and having spare capacity for adding 2 more trains per hour – which would reduce this overcrowding. However, this would require additional rolling stock, both through the doubling of existing peak hour services from East Hills from 2 to 4 trains per hour and their extension to Glenfield (where the SWRL begins).

The alternative is for the SWRL to operate as an extension of the South Line. During the morning peak hour there are currently 4 South Line trains per hour starting from Glenfield, running limited stops to the CBD via Granville. This has the advantage of not needing to add additional services or extend them, as 4 trains per hour already start at Glenfield. However, this route would result in a much longer journey (61 minutes from Glenfield to Central), is relatively crowded (the South Line could have approximately 114 passengers per 100 seats after the October 2013 timetable is implemented), and has no spare capacity for running additional trains without altering the way in which South Line and Inner West Line trains operate. This is because South Line trains run express from Strathfield while Inner West Line trains run all stops, but the lack of overtaking tracks reduces the maximum hourly capacity from 20 trains per hour down to 12.

Once the Bankstown Line is linked up to a Second Harbour Crossing and its trains removed from the City Circle, an additional 4 trains per hour can be added to the East Hills Line during the AM peak. However, the South Line will retain the same constraints previously mentioned. Additionally, should an airport ever be built at Badgerys Creek then an extension of the SWRL and East Hills Line could connect the new airport to Kingsford-Smith Airport with a continuous rail line.

Despite this, in both cases it would be possible to run all SWRL trains via the South Line and still maintain a quick and easy cross platform transfer at Glenfield. By sending all South and Cumberland Line trains through the SWRL, it would also allow independent operation of the lines to Leppington and Macarthur from Glenfield. This would prevent delays on one section of the line from immediately flowing on to the other section. This “sectorisation”, as it is known, would be even more pronounced once single deck metro trains run on the Bankstown Line and it is truncated to Cabramatta.

The SWRL currently under construction, passing underneath the Hume Highway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

The SWRL currently under construction, passing underneath the Hume Highway. Click to enlarge. (Source: Transport for NSW)

A similar challenge exists during the off-peak. Here are 3 possible options:

  1. The South Line currently operates at half hour frequencies, and these 2 trains an hour can be re-routed to the SWRL. This removes two services per hour from Campbelltown, albeit trains so slow that passengers can reach the CBD faster by waiting for the next East Hills train and catching that instead.
  2. Two trains an hour on the East Hills Line (one each starting from/terminating at Kingsgrove and Campbelltown) could each be re-routed to the SWRL. This removes one service per hour from Campbelltown, bringing it back down to half hourly services all day. Though some clever timetabling of the Cumberland Line could allow passengers South of Glenfield a quick transfer at Glenfield for a fast SWRL train into the CBD, reducing the 30 minute wait between trains.
  3. The Cumberland Line is re-routed to the SWRL. This removed a direct link to Parramatta for anyone South of Glenfield and a direct link to the CBD for anyone on the SWRL. This makes it an unlikely choice, if passengers are required to make transfers then it should be for those with non-CBD destinations.

The SWRL was recently announced to be running 12 months ahead of schedule and $100m under budget. However, the revised mid-2015 completion date is still 3 years behind the initial 2012 completion date, with the revised $2.0bn budget well above the $688m it was originally expected to cost (Source: Daily Telegraph).

All Day Challenge (October 2013)

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Personal
Tags: ,
Sydney Trains network map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Kypros 1992)

Sydney Trains network map. Click to enlarge. (Source: Kypros 1992)

This Thursday, the writer of Transport Sydney will be joining a few other brave souls in attempting the All Day Challenge (previously known as the Cityrail Challenge) and try to travel to all 176 train stations in the Sydney Trains network in a single day. This is one of the final opportunities to do so under the current timetable before the new timetable comes into effect on 20 October. Under the new timetable, Inner West Line trains will no longer operate past Homebush, but the Cumberland Line will operate all day rather than just during peak hour.

Facebook group has been setup and rules posted. In brief, the rules are:

  • Participants must begin and end at Central Station.
  • All 176 stations in the Sydney Trains network must be passed at least once on a train that stops at that station
  • Travel must be by train only. Leaving a station is allowed for breaks, but travel must recommence from that station
  • Points are awarded for being first to stop at a station, travelling on different train sets, being first back to Central, etc

Anyone wanting to keep track on the day can either follow the action on the Facebook page or on Twitter with the hash tag #AllDayChallenge.

2013 timetable finalised

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Transport
Tags: ,

The government announced today the final version of the October 2013 timetable. Much has been written on this topic in this blog so far this year, so links to that have been included below rather than just repeating it all over again.

Draft 2013 timetable (part 1): Introduction

Draft 2013 timetable (part 2): AM Peak

Draft 2013 timetable (part 3): Off Peak

Draft 2013 timetable (part 4): PM Peak

What the 2013 timetable might look like

2013 timetable re-write (part 1): The context

2013 timetable re-write (part 2): The problems

2013 timetable re-write (part 3): Untangling the network

When the October 2013 timetable comes online, a significant portion of the inner Sydney rail network will have 10 minute frequencies all day during the week. Click to enlarge. (Source: Cityrail, modified by author)

When the October 2013 timetable comes online, a significant portion of the inner Sydney rail network will have 10 minute frequencies all day during the week. Click to enlarge. (Source: Cityrail, modified by author)

One of the less publicised improvements is the extension of the 10 minute frequency network. Currently, trains on the Eastern Suburbs Line between Bondi Junction and Sydenham run every 10 minutes between 5AM and 9PM on weekdays. This will now be extended through to midnight. Meanwhile, trains on the North Shore Line between Central and Chatswood will run every 9 minutes (Southbound trains) and 11 minutes (Northbound trains) between 5AM and 9PM, while trains on the Airport Line between the City Circle and Wolli Creek will also run every 9 minutes between 6AM and 10PM.

The evening peak is very similar to the morning peak. Frequencies are slightly lower, as patronage is more spread out in the evening than it is in the morning. However, this also means there is more scope to increase frequencies in the evening, whereas in the morning there are some lines which are already at the maximum 20 trains per hour limit.

As with the morning peak, the main winners are stations further out (particularly those further out from Hurstville, Gordon, and Revesby), while services are now more harmonised, simpler and more evenly spread out. More services follow clockface stopping patterns, with a particular stopping pattern generally occurring once every 15 minutes. Extra services have also been added, increasing the number of trains passing through Central in the busiest hour of the evening peak from 96 to 109. This is a much larger increase than in the morning, where the equivalent figures are 109 to 117 (or 118 if you count the two 4 carriage trains as two trains, rather than the equivalent of a single 8 carriage train). This should significantly reduce overcrowding issues.

Some stations lose out from fewer services (though generally those remaining services will have extra available seats), and a very minor few will see longer journeys, but these are kept to a minimum. Standouts here are Kograh, Rockdale, Beverly Hills, and Kingsgrove.

Overcrowding

A net 13 additional services have been added during the busiest hour of the evening peak. This includes an extra 15 services: 5 on the Eastern Suburbs Line, 2 on the Illawarra Line, 1 on the Airport & East Hills Line, 2 on the Bankstown Line, 2 on the South Line, 2 on the North Shore Line, and 1 on the Western Line, while 2 services have been removed: 1 from the South Coast Line and 1 on the Inner West Line. As a result, 3 of the 4 busiest lines will see their average load drop under 100%. This means that, assuming passengers loads are evenly spread between and within trains, every passenger will be able to sit down in these cases where loadings are under 100%.

The one line that remains over 100% is the Western Line, which has no spare capacity to increase services any more than is currently the case. Additional demand here must be satisfied from passengers going to other lines or taking the train at times other than peak hour.

2013-06-05 PM Overcrowding Oct 2013

More harmonised stopping patterns on many lines should also result in a more even spread of crowds between trains, which should reduce the spiking of loads on some trains.

This is important, as overcrowding is one cause of delays and disruptions that have so negatively affected Cityrail in recent months. So this will be an interesting measure to look at once the new timetable is introduced in October.

How to read the tables below

  • The PM peak is (roughly) all trains that depart from Central Station between 5:00PM and 6:00PM each weekday evening. This has sometimes been shifted forward or back if the busiest period for that particular line is slightly different.
  • The 2 exceptions to the above are Macquarie Park bound services from the CBD and Parramatta bound services between Blacktown and Harris Park. In these cases, it’s trains departing from Macquarie Park and Parramatta Stations between 5:00PM and 6:00PM.
  • Frequency refers to the number of trains that stop at that station during that hour. It indicates the total capacity of the line, in terms of seats and standing room.
  • Headways refers to the time between trains at Central Station (and not the time between them when they arrive at their destination station). The important figure is the maximum headways, as it shows how long the wait is to the next train can be if you just missed the train.
  • Journey time indicates whether journeys are longer, shorter, or the same, and by how long. This can sometimes be subjective, so use it as a rough guide.
  • Green means better (e.g. shorter journey times, higher frequency, shorter max headways), yellow means unchanged, red means worse.

Airport & East Hills Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 East Hills PM

An extra express service is added during the evening peak hour, raising the total number from 11 to 12. This allows for 3 different stopping patterns, each with 4 trains per hour at 15 minute intervals, down from a far more complex 7 stopping patterns that currently exist. More trains run express, skipping stations East of Revesby, resulting in significantly shorter journeys for outer suburban stations but fewer services for stations such as Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills, which lose their express services.

Bankstown Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Bankstown PM

An extra 2 services are being added during the evening peak hour, raising the total number from 6 to 8. Many outer suburban stations will see significantly shorter travel times, particularly to Cabramatta, Warwick Farm, and Liverpool. In particular, Bankstown Line trains will arrive at Liverpool only 5 minutes after the trains on the South Line do. This may encourage some passengers going to Liverpool to travel via Bankstown instead of via Lidcombe (particularly those on the Eastern part of the CBD who travel from Museum or St James stations), thus taking some pressure off the congested trains on the Inner West and South Lines. This is more evident during the PM peak, when South and Bankstown Line trains depart from different stations, whereas in the AM peak they would all depart from Liverpool.

Meanwhile, the truncation of Inner West Line services to Homebush means all trains to stations on the extremities of the Bankstown Line will now be serviced exclusively by the Bankstown Line. The loss of Inner West Line services will require passengers seeking a direct service onto the lower frequencies and longer journey times for Bankstown Line services to Wiley Park, Yagoona, Berala, or Regents Park. For those willing to make a transfer at Lidcombe, the higher frequencies and faster journeys on other lines could actually translate into a shorter overall journey.

Stopping patterns have been simplified, falling from 4 types of stopping patterns down to 2.

Inner West Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Inner West PM

One fast service (stopping at Newtown, Petersham, Summer Hill, Ashfield, Croydon, Homebush) has been removed. This alone accounts for the majority of longer journey lengths in the table above.

Despite the loss of some services, maximum headways have not increased, and have actually dropped in some cases, eliminating the sometimes 18 minute long waits for the next service. This is due to the harmonisation of stopping patterns, with 1 stopping pattern for the 4 Inner West Line trains per hour, running at 15 minute frequencies, and 2 stopping patterns for the 8 South Line trains per hour, also running at 15 minute frequencies each.

The main winner here is Newtown, which will now have 8 services in the evening peak hour, up from 5, also reducing maximum headways down to 9 minutes.

South Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 South PM

Many stations on the South Line will have the number of services to them cut, but more harmonised stopping patterns have cut the maximum headways, which is a net benefit for most stations. Where maximum headways are up, it is generally by only 1 minute, whereas the majority will see them fall by 2 to 3 minutes. The big winners are the outer suburban stations South of Granville, which have a significant drop in travel times, as well as Flemington, where the maximum headways from from 22 minutes to 15 minutes. The main loser is Auburn, which loses its fast services from Central.

North Shore Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 North Shore PM

Two additional services has been added, increasing the total number from 13 to 15 in the busiest hour of the evening peak. Stopping patterns are now predominantly skip stop rather than express and all stops, making direct travel from one suburban station to another not possible. This has reduced the number of stopping patterns from 5 to 4, allowed a more even and harmonised spread of services, and reduced travel times to outer suburban stations North of Gordon. Maximum headways are down for most stations, even for those with no additional services.

The main losers are Pymble, Asquith, and Berowra, which see their maximum headways increase. Although it is only 3 minutes in the case of the first, and up to 4 of the 5 minutes in the latter 2 are made up for in shorter journey lengths.

Northern Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Northern PM

This section of the network is mostly unchanged. Better timing of slots used by trains appears to have allowed services headed North of Epping via Chatswood to do so more quickly, presumably because the current timetable requires them to wait for a fast train from Strathfield to first pass before it can proceed. The other main change is the addition of additional CBD bound services from Epping via Macquarie Park. These run every 15 minutes between 3:30PM and 5:45PM, which increases the frequency between 5PM and 6PM, up from the current 4 services to 7. Maximum headways during this period drop to 9 minutes, but as the extra services end before the evening peak hour is over, the maximum headway remains 15 minutes.

Western Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Western PM

Note: Cityrail claims that there are 19 trains per hour to Parramatta during the busiest hour in the evening peak, but I’ve only been able to find 18. The figures in the table above assume 18 trains, whereas the table at the beginning of this post assume 19 trains.

The Western Line has a number of long distance services where a fast train will leave Central after a slow train, then overtake the slow train and arrive at its destination earlier. These slow trains have been excluded in the above figures. In the case of Penrith, 4 services have been added due to them being slower services that still arrive at their destination before a faster service due to better timetabling.

The main improvement on the Western Line comes from more harmonised stopping patterns, leading to lower maximum headways. Some outer suburban stations, Schofields, Quakers Hill, Marayong, and Penrith in particular, have a significant decrease in journey times.

Some stations will see a slight deterioration in service, but only very minor.

Western Line/Cumberland Line (from Parramatta)

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Cumberland PM

The addition of all day half hourly Cumberland Line services had the potential to improve access between Parramatta and nearby stations (rather than direct services from the CBD). However, as with the AM Peak, this does not appear to have occurred. Some stations will see a slight improvement, but some will see a slight deterioration.

Illawarra Line

2013-06-04 Draft SWTT 2013 Illawarra PM

As with the AM Peak, the main winners here are stations South of Hurstville, which will see journey times cut significantly. Most stations will see big decreased in maximum headways, in many cases down from 17 minutes to 10 minutes. The more simplified stopping patterns should also decrease the number of disruptions and delays.

Meanwhile, services to Rockdale and Kograh have been cut, and journey times increased by a few minutes. Those services that these 2 stations do keep will terminate at Hurstville, which should mean passengers heading to these stations will have more seats.

As before, this is all based on the current draft of the timetable, and may change.

The new timetable adds some additional services outside of peak hour. An extra 2 trains per hour (TPH) have been added to the Northern, Western, Airport, and Cumberland Lines. Meanwhile, stopping patterns have been simplified, resulting in a more even spread of trains. For example, though Croydon retains 4 trains per hour, the gap between trains (known as headways) drops from a maximum of 20 minutes to 15 minutes, while for city-bound trains from Liverpool maximum headways will fall from 27 to 19 minutes.

Most importantly, spacings have been managed well enough so that passengers taking a train within the CBD will now never have to wait longer than 11 minutes for their next train, down from the current 15 minute maximum. This maximum wait figure is as low as 6 minutes for anyone taking the City Circle via Town Hall.

High frequency services will also last longer into the night on both the Bankstown and Eastern Suburbs Lines.

Cityrail stations with a train every 15 minutes or so into Central Station during the middle of the day. Blue stations (82) currently do, green stations (31) will from October, orange stations (63) will not. (Source: Cityrail)

Cityrail stations with a train every 15 minutes or so into Central Station during the middle of the day. Blue stations (82) currently do, green stations (31) will from October, orange stations (63) will not. (Source: Cityrail)

Currently, of the 176 stations on the Cityrail suburban network, only 47%  of them (82 stations) have 15 minute frequencies between the peaks. However, with the previously mentioned improvements, that figures rises to 64% of the network (113 stations). This improvement is biggest on the Western and Northern Lines, though improvements may also occur on the Airport, Bankstown, and Eastern Suburbs Lines.

Note: Headways of 17 minutes have been counted as being the same as 15 minutes, while those of 19 minutes have not.

How to read the tables below

The off peak is (roughly) all trains that arrive at Central Station between 12:00PM and 1:00PM each weekday afternoon.

The exception to the above is Parramatta bound services between Blacktown and Harris Park. In these cases, it’s trains arriving at Parramatta Station between 12:00PM and 1:00PM.

Frequency refers to the number of trains that stop at that station during that hour. It indicates the total capacity of the line, in terms of seats and standing room.

Headways refers to the time between trains at that station (and not the time between them when they arrive at Central). The important figure is the maximum headways, as it shows how long the wait is to the next train can be if you just missed the train. Different stopping patterns can mean headways differ at origin and destination, and commentary has been provided for some of these instances.

Journey time indicates whether journeys are longer, shorter, or the same, and by how long. This can sometimes be subjective, so use it as a rough guide.

Green means better (e.g. shorter journey times, higher frequency, shorter max headways), yellow means unchanged, red means worse.

Sydney CBD

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 CBD OP

Stations within the CBD (as well as out to Bondi Junction and Chatswood), on which passengers sometimes have to wait 12 or 15 minutes for the next train if they just miss one, will now have maximum headways of 11 minutes, and as low as 6 minutes on one line through the city. This will help to allow people to use the rail network for trips within the CBD and parts of the inner city without having to refer to a timetable. Thus allowing more spontaneous trips. This is not as feasible when missing a train can add an extra 15 minutes to your journey.

The changes to the City Circle are a bit technical, so feel free to skip the next 2 paragraphs.

Currently there are 10 trains per hour that enter the City Circle via Town Hall – 2 from the South Line, 4 from the Inner West Line, and 4 from the Macdonaldtown stabling yard. Meanwhile, another 10 trains per hour enter the City Circle via Town Hall – 6 from the Airport Line and 4 from the Bankstown Line. These 10 trains feed back into each other (so a South Line train might come out the other end as an Airport Line train, while a Bankstown Line train might come out the other end into the Macdonaldtown stabling).

Under the proposed changes, 2 extra Airport Line services are being added, but Bankstown Line trains now enter the City Circle via Town Hall and feedback into the Bankstown Line from Museum (i.e. it becomes a self contained loop). That reduces the number of trains entering via Museum from 10 to 8. Meanwhile, the number of Macdonaldtown stabling yard trains is reduced from 4 to 2, which when combined with the increase of 4 trains from the Bankstown Line results in 12 trains per hour entering the City Circle via Town Hall – 2 from the South Line, 2 from the Macdonaldtown Stabling, 4 from the Inner West Line, and 4 from the Bankstown Line.

Trains through the City Circle are then spaced out more evenly, so that the maximum headways on it drops to 6 minutes for anyone travelling clockwise around it, and 9 minutes for anyone travelling anti-clockwise around it. Both are an improvement on the current maximum of 12 minutes.

For the 2 lines that use the Harbour Bridge, an increase in the number of services from 6 to 8 per hour means that the maximum wait between trains drops from the current 15 minutes, to 9 minutes heading South from Chatswood and 11 minutes heading North from Redfern. All of these services now stop at Waverton and Wollstonecraft, meaning these 2 stations see their frequencies double from 4 to 8 trains per hour and maximum headways drop from 15 minutes to 9 or 11 minutes (depending on direction).

Headways for the Eastern Suburbs Line remain unchanged at 10 minutes. However, this 6 trains per hour frequency currently ends at around 9:00PM, after which it reverts to a 4 trains per hour frequency with 15 minute headways. The 10 minute headways will instead continue right up to 11:00PM.

Airport & East Hills Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 East Hills OP

An additional 2 hourly services are added to the Airport Line, one reaches Kingsgrove and the other reaches Campbelltown. Though Kingsgrove gains one new services, it loses 2 existing services, which now skip Kingsgrove in order to reduce travel times for those in outer suburban stations. This makes Kingsgrove the only loser on this line.

Stations between Campbelltown and Holsworthy, other than Macquarie Fields, see a big decrease in travel times and gain an additional hourly service. Maximum headways remain half hourly. The other main winners are stations on the Airport Line, who see maximum headways drop from 15 minutes to 9 minutes thanks to the increase from 6 to 8 trains per hour.

Bankstown Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Bankstown OP

The main change here is an extension of 15 minute frequencies from Central to Bankstown, which currently revert to half hourly frequencies after 8:30PM. The 15 minute frequencies will instead continue until 9:30PM.

Inner West Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Inner West OP

Services on the Inner West Line follow a more regular clockface timetable, meaning a more regular 15 minute gap between services, rather than gaps as long as 20 minutes at Croydon despite it having 4 trains per hour. Homebush sees a doubling in its frequency.

South Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 South OP

Liverpool, Warwick Farm, and Cabramatta are probably the only winners on the South Line, which thanks to more even service spacing and fewer stops made by its trains will see shorter maximum headways and quicker journeys into the CBD.

Most stations are unchanged, and retain their half hourly services during the middle of the day.

The main losers are Granville and Flemington, which both see reduced frequencies and longer maximum headways, while Granville also loses its fast trains to the city. Meanwhile, Auburn and Lidcombe have their maximum headways increased, but only by 1 minute.

Not included in the table above are the new Cumberland Line services. These increase train frequencies to 4 per hour between Campbelltown and Merrylands for anyone going to Liverpool or to Campbelltown. But with maximum headways of 25 minutes, it is not much of an improvement of the current 30 minute headways, and is a lost opportunity for a frequent non-CBD rail service. Compare this to the Cumberland Lines’ impact between Blacktown and Harris Park, where it has reduced maximum headways for Parramatta bound trains from 30 to 17 minutes.

North Shore Line

No major changes. It retains its even 15 minute headways.

Western Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Western OP

The big winners here are stations from Doonside to Penrith, thanks to an additional 2 trains per hour. This provides stations between Doonside and Penrith with 4 trains per hour, which translates to maximum headways of 17 minutes, while also greatly reducing travel times from these stations into Central. Seven Hills, Blacktown, and Parramatta also see a significant drop in travel times. It is now possible to get a train any time of the day at either Parramatta or Central every 15 minutes and be at the other station in 27 minutes.

However, differing stopping patterns for trains to and from Penrith mean that they both arrive and depart from Central with 3 and 27 minute headways. So for off peak return journeys from the CBD, there remains an almost half hour wait for the next train between most services.

Western Line/Cumberland Line (to Parramatta)

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Cumberland OP

The return of the Cumberland Line has boosted frequencies on stations near Parramatta from 2 to 4 trains per hour. In the case of Toongabbie, Pendle Hill, Wentworthville, and Harris Park, this means maximum headways of 17 minutes. Its extension onto the Richmond Line as far as Schofields has reduced headways there down to 21 minutes. In both cases, it also allows passengers to board a Cumberland Line train and then disembark and walk across the platform at somewhere like Seven Hills or Westmead for a fast train into the CBD, which remains a faster alternative than waiting for the next direct train.

Northern Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Northern OP

The addition of 2 extra trains per hour through to the CBD makes the Northern Line the other big winner during the off peak. All stations North of Strathfield see an increase in their frequencies, and a drop in maximum headways – in most cases from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. In addition, a better arrangement of trains at Strathfield and Burwood stations means that passengers are less likely to skip a train because a subsequent train will arrive at Central first. This effectively increases frequencies by 2 trains per hour at Strathfield and Burwood, while Strathfield also benefits from an extra 4 trains per hour added to the timetable (2 from Epping and 2 from Penrith).

Illawarra Line

2013-05-28 Draft SWTT 2013 Illawarra OP

Jannali, Oatley, Allawah, and Carlton benefit from shorter journey times, generally 3-4 minutes shorter, while all but Jannali also see a doubling of their frequencies from 2 to 4 trains per hour, reducing maximum headways to 16 minutes. Mortdale is the main loser, dropping from 6 to 4 trains per hour and adding up to 2 minutes to journeys, but with maximum headways only increasing slightly from 15 to 16 minutes.

Kograh and Rockdale, which lost direct access to stations South of Hurstville and express services to Central, retain both during the off peak.