Sydney’s Rail Woes

Sydney Suffering from Rail Woes



I was meant to get this published but just ran out of time. Check this piece from the SMH on the impending rail woes about to hit Sydney Metro:


Crush hour: $9b rail link flaw

Jacob Saulwick

Transport Reporter


RUSH hour commuters will be forced to wait for at least two crowded trains to go through Chatswood station before being able to continue their journey to the city, under the O’Farrell government’s centrepiece $9 billion transport project.

The government’s decision to build the north-west rail link as a shuttle between Epping and Chatswood, breaking its promise to allow trains to run all the way to the city, will lead to potential chaos for many north shore and Hills district commuters.

Thousands of commuters disembarking at Chatswood will be unable to get on city-bound trains already operating at capacity. And passengers getting off the north-west trains may struggle to fit on the crowded platform at Chatswood.

With an ”optimised” timetable for the north-west rail link, more than 40 per cent of peak-hour passengers transferring to the city at Chatswood will be unable to get on the next service because it will be too crowded, according to analysis commissioned by Transport for NSW and obtained by the Herald.


Further, more than 15 per cent of them will be unable to fit on the next two citybound trains on the north shore line.

The analysis was commissioned and done just before the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, and the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, announced the new model for the north-west rail link on June 20.

Last night Ms Berejiklian said one of two environmental impact statements required for the link has received planning approval.

Under the model, the line will be built and run by a private operator rather than RailCorp. Transport for NSW hired consultants from the engineering firm Arup to look at whether Chatswood Station could cope with the passengers transferring to citybound trains.

Arup modelled what would happen if one peak-hour train on the north shore line was cancelled which, on RailCorp’s record, would happen about once a fortnight. In this case, 62 per cent of north-west rail link passengers would not fit on the first train to the city. Almost 40 per cent would not fit on the second train. More than 20 per cent of passengers – about 1900 people – would have to wait for a fourth, fifth or sixth train. In this scenario there would be ”extreme difficulties to alight and to enter the platform from stair”, a summary of the analysis says.

”Patrons entering the station have difficulty moving away from the stair and patrons coming off NWRL services … cannot exit carriages due to congestion,” the summary says.

Even with a good running service, queueing levels would exceed good practice. ”Modelling doesn’t take into consideration the frustration and anxiety of missing trains,” it says.

The modelling assumes 8880 people will get off the north-west rail link at Chatswood to transfer to the lower north shore or city.

Using freedom-of-information laws, the Herald requested the analysis in July. The response from Transport for NSW redacted all substantial analysis, in part because it said releasing it could jeopardise procurement for the line. The department said the analysis was only preliminary because it was based on assumptions still being developed.

The Herald obtained sections of the analysis independently.

A spokesman for Transport for NSW said the modelling obtained by the Herald assumed 20 trains an hour on the north shore line in the morning peak.

”We are undertaking work to determine what improvements need to be made to the network to run 24 trains an hour,” he said.

Ms Berejiklian said: ”The government is working to make this a world best-practice interchange and we are confident we will deliver that.

“Everything that has been presented to me by Transport for NSW leaves me in no doubt that Sydney’s rail future has been well thought through.”

The government’s infrastructure adviser, Infrastructure NSW, will release its plan for new tollroads through the inner west and south of Sydney tomorrow.

It will also recommend building an airport at Badgerys Creek, a move that is not supported by the O’Farrell government.

Read more:


As I was pasting that article to here, this came up just now at the SMH:


Adapting existing infrastructure will put NSW on road to recovery

Opinion – Paul Broad


Making Sydney a more economically successful and better place to live is a major objective of the State Infrastructure Strategy. This is because Sydney, as the major economic force of NSW, is most capable of driving an upturn in the state’s fortunes.

The strategy is called ”First Things First” with good reason: this phrase captures the main messages that have come out of the past 12 months’ consideration of what the state needs to set it up for the future.

There has been too much waste and misdirection in past infrastructure policy, which has contributed to the slowing of our economy compared with other states. The result is that in spite of record spending on infrastructure – $70 billion spent in the past five years, representing a doubling of funding from the previous five-year period – much of our infrastructure networks fall short of community expectations.

Take transport as a case in point. Some passenger train services are actually slower than they were decades ago. Road congestion has been gradually worsening. The CBD in peak hour defines gridlock.


We need to address this situation by dealing with the most urgent priorities first. This means focusing on those initiatives and projects that will yield the greatest economic impact.

There are more than 30 transport-related recommendations in the strategy covering urban and regional areas and all major modes of transport. Each is important in its own right and represents a considered assessment of the best, fastest and most cost-effective solution available.

Using the yardstick of economic impact, the single biggest transport priority is the WestConnex project that involves construction of an M4 East linked to a duplicated M5 East and major urban renewal along Parramatta Road.

The NSW Bureau of Transport Statistics data shows that overwhelmingly Sydney relies on roads for daily travel. Of 17 million average weekday trips, 69 per cent are by road, 19 per cent by bicycle or walking, 7 per cent by bus, taxi or ferry and 5 per cent by rail. If you consider passenger transport alone, 93 per cent of trips are by road.

Most road travel is dispersed to myriad smaller locations across our large metropolitan area. They are not trips to CBDs that could be easily transferred to rail, for example. Our motorway network acts as a major distributor of these millions of journeys as opposed to being a funnel through which people commute to the major CBDs, contrary to popular opinion.

Considering all these points, as well as the dominance of roads in moving freight, WestConnex will have a major beneficial impact on the largest possible number of Sydneysiders.

Conversely, roads do not replicate the role of public transport, especially rail and buses, in servicing CBD locations.

Public transport is the best option for these large centres and it will need significant targeted investment to grow the capacity of public transport systems, as well as speeding up journey times and making services more reliable.

While there are cases where capital investment is needed, the strategy recommends much can be achieved at less cost and more quickly by incrementally improving the road, bus and rail networks we already have. What is advocated is a mix of both.

The strategy’s future vision for central Sydney is built around the CBD Transit Improvement Plan – a mixture of bus rapid transit and rail improvements. In short, most of the peak-hour buses that flow into the city at present will be able to bypass the traffic completely via an underground route similar to the successful Brisbane model. As a result, bus/rail interchanges will be built at Wynyard and Town Hall as part of a major modernisation of these critical stations.

A significant upgrade to the City Circle Line to increase capacity and allow more services is also proposed, as are plans to introduce rapid transit on key rail lines including the main west lines and turn-up-and-go express services between Sydney and Parramatta.

For areas serviced by buses, such as the northern beaches, a program of upgrades including an extra lane on the Spit Bridge are being proposed.

Speeding up train services is the focus for outlying areas. Getting the main intercity journeys Wollongong-Sydney and Gosford-Sydney down to one hour is the goal of the strategy.

Infrastructure NSW believes this approach has got the priorities right. Its methodology is more modest than the infrastructure planning of the past – in our view, a positive advantage that will deliver more real results for public transport users and motorists alike.

Paul Broad is the managing director of Infrastructure NSW.

Read more:



After reading both of those I was wondering to myself; “Geez this sounds all awfully familiar.” That’s right, it is the very same problems, debates and solution seeking that Auckland and its transport is going through RIGHT NOW! At least we can take some small comfort that our Aussie neighbours are experiencing the same issues as us in Auckland. Although flushing A$9 billion down the shitter into some rather large rail fallacy prone project (The North West Line (Sydney)) is rather eye popping stuff here (compared to our large scale mega projects).


I do have to ask this though:

Why does everything a Centre-Right central or state government in the Northern Hemisphere do in regards to mass transit turn out to be success stories (okay might be pushing it with the USA) while in the Southern Hemisphere, anything the Centre-Right central or state (where applicable) governments do in regards to mass transit turns into one big shit-stink pile that gets us no-where (maybe backwards if we are lucky to get any movement)?

I thought we were meant to achieve: “An Integrated Approach to Transport: None of this “all for one but not the other approach” we get from both roading and Green lobbyists. Road and Mass Transit both have their places here in Auckland – albeit more balanced like the Generation Zero 50:50 campaign. This integrated approach also applies to many other things out there – I call it The Best of Both Worlds.” (From my What Do I Stand For and Believe In – For a Better Auckland page)

Groan and eye-roll material stuff here folks…