Tag: Rail

Sydney and The Rail Fallacy MK II

The Rail Fallacy Strikes (Sydney) Back


In June last year I posted about Sydney and The Rail Fallacy – mind you it was in concern to passenger trains as I was drawing a warning in regards to the City Rail Link.

From last year:

Sydney and its Rail Fallacy

It seems Sydney has not quite learned from Auckland’s botched public transport system with multiple operators, seemingly a heterogeneous train fleet, disjointed fares and very disjointed timetables between the three p/t modes. Although Auckland is on the path in fixing the last three bits of that previous sentence, we will have some way to go yet before achieving a homogenous public transport operating system. But as I said at least we are going towards homogenous, because upon reading the Sydney transport article; they seem to be going in full reverse and heading to a heterogeneous system like we have. If you are wondering how Sydney has a rail fallacy; well it has not got a fallacy right now like other places, but heck it is heading to one and one it can avoid quite easy.

The Rail Fallacy will apply to the when the North West Rail Link (which is to be run as a PPP) is complete and opened in 2019, and most likely to the second Sydney Harbour is the New South Wales state governmentmanages to screw that up.


And for the definition of Rail Fallacy it is this:



The Rail Fallacy was a formula given to  me by a mentor on how to roughly calculate the “actual” cost and time to completion of a heavy rail or light rail project. The Fallacy was based on previous experience from projects in the USA and Scandinavia where rail projects were given a cost and time to completion by the Public Authorities. However  by the end of the said project (if it was not scrapped) the final cost was higher and time to completion “delayed” compared to the original numbers given, with public confidence often not that high. Thus the Fallacy formula was derived on an average of 1.5x (one point five times) and can be applied to (usually) to any passenger rail project due to be constructed in the Western World.


Well yesterday its mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald that Sydney and wider New South Wales suffered a rather large Rail Fallacy – although it was from a freight line rather than a passenger line.

From the SMH:

‘We wanted to make sure we got it right’: new rail line opens … three years late”


The first train line in Sydney to be paid for and built under the Rudd and Gillard governments opened on Monday, $700 million over budget and three years after it was promised to be finished.

The 36km Southern Sydney Freight Line will allow extra freight trains to run between Macarthur and Chullora in the city’s south west and will increase rail freight capacity along the entire Australian east coast.

This is an investment that’s been got right. This isn’t a loss to taxpayers. This is an investment that produces a return on that investment by getting it right.

But the project ended up being vastly more expensive to build than when it was first promised by the federal Transport Minister, Anthony Albanese, in 2009.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-wanted-to-make-sure-we-got-it-right-new-rail-line-opens–three-years-late-20130121-2d279.html#ixzz2IjrDydNo


Getting it Right? That should of been done in the (proper) Planning Process which would of indicated rather clearly the upcoming complexity of the entire project

As for costs and time that is reflected below, but from my understanding the freight line came in at 3.5x over budget and three years (so 3x over the one year completion date) late from what was “promised” by the Federal Government.


More from the SMH:

At a press conference in Birrong to mark the start of operations on the line, Mr Albanese and the chief executive of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which built the line, defended the blow-out.


The final cost was about $1 billion. When Mr Albanese announced the start of construction in February 2009, he put a figure of $309 million on the project and a completion date of early 2010.

“This is a pretty complex piece of work,” Mr Albanese said on Monday.

He attributed the delays and cost blow-outs to the necessity of moving utilities such as water and energy lines during construction.

Mr Albanese also said that the difficulty of operating on a live rail line – both freight trains and passenger trains on the adjoining East Hills line stayed running while the new line was being built – added to the challenge of the project.

“We wanted to make sure we got it right,” the Transport Minister said. “No corners have been cut. This has been got right.”

The Australian Rail Track Corporation is owned by the federal government. As with the NBN Co. it receives money from the federal government in the form of investments which do not come off the government’s budget bottom line.

Mr Albanese declined to criticise the ARTC for the more than three-fold increase in the cost of the project. According to figures provided to Senate Estimates, the ARTC spent almost $12 million in planning the line before construction even started in 2009.

“This is an investment,” he said. “This is an investment that’s been got right. This isn’t a loss to taxpayers. This is an investment that produces a return on that investment by getting it right.”

Mr Fullerton said the new train line, which will allow capacity for up to 48 freight trains a day to pass through the area and potentially to Port Botany, was the largest project the ARTC had undertaken.

“The original budget made some assumptions on how we could build a line over 36 kilometres adjacent to a metropolitan line but when we got into the project we realised that lot of the services covering off Sydney Water, a lot of the RailCorp services to do with signalling, electricity lines, all those sorts of things had to be relocated and that comes at a significant cost over 36 kilometres,” Mr Fullerton said.

The ARTC stopped work on the freight line in late 2009 and 2010. The benefit of the line is in allowing passenger trains and freight trains to run separately from each other.

This means that an existing eight-hour curfew on freight trains running during the morning and afternoon peak periods can now be lifted.

Mr Albanese defended the record of the federal Labor government in relation to transport in Sydney.

As transport minister, he has promised to build the Epping to Parramatta train line, though that pledge has been scuppered by the O’Farrell government which ranks it a lower priority. He has also agreed to fund a new freight terminal at Moorebank and another freight train line through Sydney’s northern suburbs, though both are still at the planning stage.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/we-wanted-to-make-sure-we-got-it-right-new-rail-line-opens–three-years-late-20130121-2d279.html#ixzz2Ijs0hJ9l


By the looks of it (and always seems to be the case) it that the project is a worthwhile one (this dedicated segregated freight line being an example) but the planning was just an utter disgrace and not done properly. And from the Sydney Freight Rail Line example some rather dodgy planning was done indeed. Costs underestimated (as always the case), time of completion underestimated (as always the case), scope of work underestimated (was with Sydney), complexity of the work at hand underestimated (usually the case), benefits delivered from project overestimated (although with Sydney and back here with the CRL this would be a case of benefits most likely being underestimated due to pitch of the benefits being wrong).


So a message to our resident Prude – The Mayor and Auckland Council, take heed of Sydney AND Canberra doing a ballsy and allowing a Rail Fallacy (and a large one at that with the multiple over 3.0) happen with a FREIGHT rail line (let alone passenger rail line projects like the Sydney North-Western Line proposals). Because while some call it scaremongering in what I write, I call it the utter truth from examples overseas gathered and an absolute warning on how to avoid The Rail Fallacy. And I give these warning so that mistakes from overseas  are not repeated in regards to the City Rail Link mega-project. Because if the The Rail Fallacy does happen (and it has with Manukau – knocking confidence right out of Councillors and rail supporters) then support and confidence in further investment in rail (the other four lines to be built) goes right out the door.

Just of note The CRL already faces a tough pitch in giving ratepayers confidence in its multi-billion dollar project support; Whale Oils Rail Patronage post would be a testament to that (after by the looks it someone got a proverbial spanking over there) and The Rail Fallacy coming true with the CRL will do no one any favours. However if we get a Britomart situation where the project was in high doubt but is now a beacon (well all things considered too) of confidence restoration with rail investment and the CRL pulls off the same thing – then – well you figure out with further investment with rail.


So the stakes are high folks they really are…


Wheels of Progress Turning Ctd

NZ Herald on “Boost for Trains In (the) South”


Wednesday I had posted on The Wheels of Progress Turning and how we are a step closer to Electrification all the way to Pukekohe and getting the Manukau South Link built and operating. Today Mathew Dearnaley from the NZ Herald posted his article on these two developments.

From the NZH:

Boost for trains in south

By Mathew Dearnaley

Auckland Transport will be asked by its council parent to give high priority to a south-facing rail link from Manukau while also considering the cost of electrifying trains to Pukekohe.

The council’s transport committee this week heard the organisation’s board is to consider electrification costs to Pukekohe at its next meeting in a fortnight.

But after the Franklin and Papakura local boards urged a more direct rail link with Manukau, the committee also decided to ask Auckland Transport to give that high priority before electric trains start running in 2014.

Although the Government’s existing $500 million electrification project is to stop at Papakura, committee member Christine Fletcher said an extension to Pukekohe was “the next logical step”.

Mrs Fletcher, who is also a council appointee to the transport board, believed an existing order of 57 electric trains being built-in Spain should be extended.

Although the cost of electrifying rail to Papakura was estimated at $115 million in 2008, and would normally be seen as the Government’s responsibility, committee chairman Mike Lee noted that he and Mrs Fletcher had persuaded the transport board last month to save $50 million by scaling down the upgrade of Dominion Rd.

“So it’s a matter of priority,” he said.

The committee also decided council staff should do their own study, although in consultation with Auckland Transport and the local boards, on the costs and benefits of a south-facing link from Manukau in relation to other rail projects.

Councillor George Wood said an $81 million north-facing line to Manukau, built to feed into a new Manukau Institute of Technology campus, was not “giving anywhere near the level of service it could do to people living to the south”.


Hmm Mathew, you might want to do some research (or get your junior to do so) on how the Manukau South Link came about. To give you hand go click THIS LINK and THIS LINK and THIS LINK on how the entire Manukau South Link matter arose and got to where it was.

As I have emailed Councillors Wood, Fletcher and Lee; a massive thanks to all three of them was sent for facilitating the discussion on the Manukau South Link which then got put alongside the Pukekohe electrification proposal. A special thanks to Councillor George Wood was also mentioned for bringing to the Transport Committee the Notice of Motion after I had raised concern about the South Link with him directly.

Now I will work on operation proposals on services running from Pukekohe and Papakura to Manukau using the South Link using both the existing DMU (Diesel) rolling stock and the new upcoming EMU (Electric) rolling stock and forward them to the Transport Committee for consideration.

But as I have said before:

I will continue to advocate and lobby hard for that South Link to be built – FOR YOU, the residents of South (and Counties) Auckland! As you deserve better!




Well I get nothing out of this directly nor personally per se. What I do get once the South Link is built and operating is the quiet satisfaction that access for South and Counties Auckland to Manukau via the South Link (Manukau being the major Southern Hub of Auckland) has been greatly improved for residents and communities south of Manukau. Quiet satisfaction that as a citizen and ratepayer of Auckland, I have done my part in advocating and lobbying our civic institutions in wanting to make my community that I live in a better place. And that is regardless if I am elected to Papakura Local Board next year or not!


I’ll draw up another post this weekend on my campaign for Papakura Local Board, but as Councillor Wood noted and thanked in the Transport Committee on Wednesday: I do have a real passion and drive on transport and planning issues here in Auckland as I just simply want Auckland my home to be a better place to live, work and play in. Thus why I lobby, advocate and draw up proposals for Council on all things Transport and Planning – it is not for me – it is for you!



Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL


All Things Public Transport

Auckland Transport Releases RPTP


Some good news after the Bums Rush Auckland Council gave yesterday with its continuing crap handling of our finances. Auckland Transport had released the much vaunted Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) for viewing AND submissions. You can check the RPTP at the AT website HERE (which includes links to the submission form) or read the embed at the bottom of this post.

I am busy reading through the 138 page document but from what I have seen so far I can personally say that if we follow through with this, then Auckland as another blogger said is on the cusp of a (Public) Transport Revolution. Yes I will be forming an extensive submission on this RPTP, especially around the “zones,” fares and most likely feeder bus set ups. And yes I will trundle along to a hearing in front of Auckland Transport if the CCO gives enough heads up for me to get a period of time off work.


As I said earlier, I am busy reading through the document, so no extensive commentary just yet. But from glances at the website and summary documents I can safely say (for now) that the RPTP will meet the number three fundamental in my “What I Stand For – For Auckland” page:

  • 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.


While I begin writing the submission to the RPTP, I’ll show an example of what will be in my submission – in this case Zonal Fare:

From my ZONAL FARES post written last month:

Ben’s Proposals for Zone Based Fares

Four Zones (I will draw a map later) with the Central Post Office (so Britomart Transport Centre) as the central focus point in which the zones are calculated:
  • City Zone (Orakei, Newmarket and Grafton Trains Stations, plus the city side of the Harbour Bridge andPonsonby Road form that boundary)
  • Inner Zone (Basically marked by the traditional Otahuhu and New Lynn fare boundaries, and Smales Farm on the North Shore)
  • Outer Zone (Manurewa to the south, Westgate and Swanson to the West and Albany to the north)
  • Regional Zone (all areas beyond the outer zone)

These zones are like a target with a cross in the middle extending through the zones. From the very south to the very north of the zoned areas would mean travelling through eight zones one way. Four zones to get half way the journey and another four zones as you move through the centre to the other end of the city.

The fares for moving within or between the four zones (single trip – cash fare one way – flat fee regardless or adult or child)
  • Within a single Zone: $2
  • Between two Zones: $3
  • Between three Zones:$5
  • Between four Zones: $7
  • Five or more Zones: four zone fare plus the price of the “extra zones” travelled to the daily fare cap of $15 (so travelling six zones would equal $7 + $3 = $10 one way)

I also propose a maximum fare cap of $15 per day for all travel on the integrated public transport system. However you would still be able to by a full day pass for unlimited travel on all modes across all zones from 9am Weekdays and all day weekends and public holidays for a discounted cap price of $13 if you know you are going to be travelling around all day.

The trusty Family Pass should also be made available at the same time as a full day pass for the flat fee of $25. Super Gold holders ride free per usual at their dedicated times.

Okay so we have the zones set (map coming later in an update) and the fares organised for cash-single trips (no using an AT-HOP card), the day and family passes, Super Gold Holders and the maximum fare cap for any one day’s travel.

Now to using an AT-HOP card in place of cash.

Those who would use an AT-HOP card would be our current more frequent travellers who use the exiting ten-trip passes (being phased out) or monthly passes. Using an AT-HOP card should mean you get a discount when paying your fare compared to feeding money down a ticket machine or to the ticket office. Thus I propose the AT-HOP cards have a flat 20% discount regardless of child, adult or tertiary student on the cash fare otherwise charged for your journey. As for Monthly passes there would be four sets of “monthlies” available with prices reflecting discounts accordingly. The same conditions on your 31 days of use from the first day “used” with the existing monthly paper monthlies will transfer over to the AT-HOP Card loaded with Monthly profiles.


The Four Monthly Passes and fares (child in brackets)

  • 1-Z – For travelling within one zone: $60 ($50)
  • 2-Z – For travelling between two zones: $90 ($75)
  • 3-Z – For travelling between three zones: $ $150 ($110)
  • A-Z – Ultimate pass – travelling between four or more zones: $210 ($150)


The discount rate for adults with Monthly Passes is at minimum 25% compared to single-cash fare with child passes higher (there are no Tertiary discounts).

As for bikes – free travel but as per usual to on-board staff discretion depending on train loadings.

I still have a lot of work to do on these but it is a start and would be a good time to get the initial dialogue going to refine this idea ready for a submission to Auckland Transport in due time.


Well that due time is here and it is time to write that submission.

The submission will also become another piece of my “policy platform” when I contend for Papakura Local Board in next year’s Local Government Elections.



Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL