Fixing the trains: Sydney's rail future

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced Sydney’s Rail Future – a plan to introduce new single deck high frequency trains as part of a major overhaul of the network which will eventually include a second rail crossing, under Sydney Harbour.

“Train travellers have told us they want more frequent services and increased train capacity and that's what they will get," Mr O’Farrell said.

The rapid transit trains will provide Sydney customers with more choice alongside suburban double deck trains and intercity trains.

This will result in a more than a 60 per cent increase in the number of trains that can run to the CBD and increase capacity from areas including Western Sydney and South West Sydney, catering for up to an extra 100,000 people per hour.

Mr O’Farrell said there will be benefits to commuters across all parts of Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Newcastle and the Illawarra.

“This is a long-term transformation of our rail network – introducing rapid transit to the system to deliver major increases in capacity and frequency for greater Sydney,” he said.

In a staged approach beginning with the complete re-write of the timetable already underway, Sydney’s Rail Future includes:

  • Immediate benefits from next year, with more services across the rail network because of the new timetable;
  • The introduction of new single-deck, high-frequency trains on the North West Rail Link that will initially run through to Chatswood via Epping, on the existing line that will be converted for single deck trains;
  • The line to be operated by the private sector, with timetables and fares to be set by the Government in line with the rest of the network;
  • Planning work to start for a second heavy rail crossing which will be constructed under Sydney Harbour and the CBD linking the North West to the city;
  • New CBD railway stations on the new line, which will ease congestion at existing city stations such as Wynyard and Town Hall;
  • The conversion of the existing Bankstown Line, and the Illawarra Line between the CBD and Hurstville to allow for the fast, single-deck train services.

“The plan addresses bottlenecks that severely limit the number of trains that can travel into the CBD from the North, West and South during peak periods, meaning more trains per hour for people right across the network and faster trips for intercity customers,” Mr O’Farrell said.

Ms Berejiklian said the NSW Government has today released its rail vision so that a multi-billion dollar construction tender process for the North West Rail Link, including 15.5km of tunnels, can begin next week.

Ms Berejiklian said Sydney’s Rail Future will be a part of the draft NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, due for release later this year.

“We are getting on with building the North West Rail Link and when we brief industry next Tuesday about the multi-billion dollar construction tender, we will now be able to tell them our longer term vision for the future of rail and how the North West Rail Link will be integrated with the network,” she said.

“Through the extensive consultation we have done with industry, the community and experts via the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan, and when we’ve looked at the best examples overseas, it has become clear that what we are announcing today is the best option for all of Sydney.”

The construction of a second harbour crossing and new line under the CBD will allow a significant increase in trains per hour from Western, Northern and South West Sydney and must be part of Sydney’s future.

Rapid transit carries more people per hour than double deckers, is faster, and is best suited for lines where customers get on and off trains at various locations because they can board and alight more quickly – such as the North West Rail Link where workers will travel to Norwest, Epping and Macquarie Park.

Other benefits of Sydney’s Rail Future include:

  • A 60 per cent increase in services across all parts of the network;
  • Around an extra 14 trains an hour in peak for lines to the West, an extra eight per hour for South West Sydney and an extra 12 per hour for the Airport Line;
  • Reduced journey times between the CBD and the Central Coast, Newcastle, Sutherland, Illawarra and Blue Mountains;
  • More frequent, faster trains between the CBD and Blacktown, Penrith, Parramatta and the North Shore;
  • Rapid transit services with turn-up-and-go convenience on the Bankstown Line and on the Illawarra Line to Hurstville.

Ms Berejiklian said planning work will soon commence for the second Harbour crossing and new rail line through the CBD.

“This work, along with passenger demand over the coming years, will help determine a timeframe for this project in the longer term.”

Full details are available in the NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan.

20 June 2012
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