New Regional Rail Fleet Contracts Signed

The NSW Government has announced they have signed a $2.8 Billion contract with Momentum Trains, led by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) for the construction and maintenance of a new Regional Rail Fleet.

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Artists Impression of the New Trains

There will be 29 new trains delivered, based on the successful Civity design used throughout Europe. This will include 117 new carriages to replace the existing 111 carriages. There will be;

• 10 regional intercity trains (30 carriages in 3 car sets), replacing Endeavour trains,
• 9 short regional trains (27 carriages in 3 car sets), replacing Xplorer trains,
• 10 long regional trains (60 carriages in 6 car sets), replacing XPT trains.

The new short and long regional trains will include both an economy (2-2) and a premium (2-1) class as well as a buffet car and airline style overhead lockers for luggage. The intercity trains will have solely economy seating. There will be USB charging ports, sturdy tray tables, individual overhead reading lights, filtered water and accessible toilets with baby changing facilities in every carriage. Real-time, internal and external visual displays and announcements will help customers keep track of their journey, whilst disabled passengers will benefit from wider doors, single deck carriages and retractable platforms to bridge the gap between the train and the actual platform.

These trains are Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) built by Momentum Trains in Europe, with maintenance to be conducted in Dubbo. Existing government operator NSW TrainLink will continue to operate all services.

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NSW Election 2019

It’s an election year in NSW and now less than two months out, we are starting to see robust policy announcements, discussions and debates from all sides of politics. Both of the major parties have a platform for transport that they are running on for this state election, ranging from changes to ticketing to new train lines. This post will serve as an outline to the already announced policies from both parties, whilst future posts will provide commentary surrounding policies leading up to the election.

Liberal Policies

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  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City and Southwest
  • Deliver 17 new Waratah Series 2 trains
  • Continue with planning for Sydney Metro West
  • A new North South Rail linking communities to the new Western Sydney airport and new jobs
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Labor Policies

  • Free public transport for all school students
  • A new train timetable, with reduced travel times for Western Sydney
  • Reduce station access fee to $5 at both Domestic and International stations, with $0 fee for registered airport workers
  • $8 billion to fast track the construction of Sydney Metro West from the CBD to Westmead
  • Continue with construction of Sydney Metro City (and Southwest if contracts can’t be broken)
  • $3 billion for improvements to the rail network
  • Feasibility studies for extension of South West Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport.
  • Expanded bus services including Sutherland to Airport
  • Refund for train services that are excessively delayed for avoidable reasons
  • No more privatisation of transport services and buy back of selected privatised transport services
  • Expansion of Transport Access Program
  • New Opalpay carparks at major stations

Both parties have promised billions of dollars worth of new infrastructure all well as investment in other programs. Labor has more promises on paper, but this is because a large part of the Liberal transport platform is based on continuing their pre-existing programs which they claim are sufficient and they aren’t included in this list of policy announcements. On the other hand Labor is presenting a fresh new platform with a large number of small but significant policies.

There will also be a federal election this year. Whilst the content we normally post surrounds issues that are state based, sometimes federal governments intervene in transport policy particularly with funding for policies announced by the state branch of that is party. We will do a detailed post after the end of the NSW state campaign.

More New Waratahs

The government has announced that they have ordered an additional 17 8-Car Waratah Series 2 trains, to be delivered in 2020. This new order is in addition to the order of 24 of the trains which is currently being delivered and will take the number of Waratah Series 2 trains in the Sydney Trains fleet to 41.

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A Waratah Series 2 Train at Sydenham – Transport NSW Blog Collection

“This investment in new trains is needed because we have seen rapid growth across the rail system,” Mr Constance said. “By bolstering our order by another 17 trains, we will make the network more reliable and more comfortable for customers.”

These new trains will be used for growth in the network, instead of the retirement of older trains. This will allow for additional services to be added outside of peak and on weekends, as well as reducing cancellations during peak by allowing for backup sets.

It is understood that all 20 remaining S-Sets will be retired by the end of this year, replaced by the first batch of Waratah Series 2 trains. Other older trains such as the K-Sets and C-Sets currently do not have a retirement plan but are coming to the end of their safe working life. Previously it had been hinted that these could be replaced by further Waratah Series 2 trains.

Waratah Series 2 are double deckers, air conditioned trains. They feature high definition customer information screens, internal and external CCTV and customer help points, priority seating, wheelchair spaces and hearing aid loops and have distinctive orange driver cabins.

 

Newcastle Light Rail Opening

Newcastle Light Rail will officially open on Monday February 18, 2019 after a free community day on Sunday February 17. Services are provided by Newcastle Transport (Keolis Downer)

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Promotional Imaging for Newcastle Light Rail – © Transport for NSW

This will provide a new frequent and reliable link between Newcastle Interchange and Newcastle Beach via Civic and Queens Wharf. The fleet is made up of six CAF Urbos 100 light rail vehicles, which are air-conditioned, fully accessible and high capacity.

Newcastle Light Rail will operate between 5am and 1am daily. Services run every 10 minutes through most of the day, early and late night service operating every half hour.

Customers changing from train or bus services will pay at most 20 cents for the tram journey using Opal. Other customers will pay at most $2.20.

The construction of the line has been marred in controversy. It has been constructed as a replacement for the old heavy rail line that travelled along a similar route through the Newcastle CBD. Many residents are unhappy given the cost and disruption to replace the old train line with the new light rail, which forces them to interchange at Wickham, just outside of the CBD. There has also been the loss of one of the main east-west traffic thoroughfares through Newcastle, which has caused major traffic issues during construction.

 

We Want Your Photos!

This is a call out to call all of our readers. We would love it if you could send in any photos you have of transport anywhere around NSW. The photos don’t have to be of professional quality, just somewhat related to Transport in NSW.

Take a photo as your bus pulls up to the stop, as your ferry pulls away from the wharf or out the window of your train. We appreciate it all. See above for some great examples of photos taken by phones such as the iPhone 6 or the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

To allow for the best quality, please email the photos to transportnswblog@gmail.com

Station of the Month – January 2019

This month our station of the month is Central Station. The biggest and most popular station seems to me to be an apt choice to look at for the first month of featured stations.

Back when we first started this blog we ran a series called “Train Talk Tuesday,” where  every Tuesday we posted a article surround the rail network. The first ever post was a very brief outline about Central station, you can find that post here. In this new series, we will be looking at many of the stations right across the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink network.

There have been three different Central Stations throughout the history of Sydney. In 1855 the first railway line opened in Sydney between Redfern and Parramatta. The ‘Central’ station, which was commonly known as ‘Redfern’ was located in the block between Cleveland and Devonshire streets. Described as a ‘temporary tin shed’, it soon outgrew the expanding railway network.

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Original Central Station in 1871 – © State of New South Wales through the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW 2016.

A second station on the same site opened in 1874. Railways Chief Engineer John Whitton designed the station and described it as a throughs station designed to allow for the future expansion of the railway network. Whilst the station was impressive when it first opened, it eventually expanded into the forecourt with 13 platforms and 25 million passenger visits each year. The site became too congested and restrictive.

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Second Central Station in 1880 – © State of New South Wales through the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW 2016.

By the late 1890s, a plan to move the station to north of Devonshire street was being developed. Minister for Public Works, E.W. O’Sullivan. Government Architect W.L. Vernon designed a 15 platform steel-framed and concrete station. It was approved for construction by parliament on 11 December 1900 at an estimated cost of £561000. Originally 15 platforms opened on 4 August 1906. The first train was a special service to Parramatta that left from Platform 12 on 4 August 1906, with the first regular service a Western Mail train at 5:50am on 5 August 1906.

Platforms 16-19 were added in 1914 and the clock hour opened on 3 March 1921. As part of the electrification of the railways and the construction of the City Circle line, platforms 16-19 were demolished and rebuilt as through platforms and expanded to include 23 platforms in the late 1920s. Platforms 24 and 25 opened with the Eastern Suburbs rail line in 1979. More recently, Platforms 12-15 were demolished in late 2018 to make way for new underground Sydney Metro platform. Platforms 12 and 13 will later be rebuilt alongside a major upgrade of the Grand Concourse.

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A view of the Grand Concourse and Clocktower in December 2018 – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Today there are 21 fully-electrified platforms in service at Central Station. It is the busiest train station in Australia, with over 270 000 passengers using the station each day. It is serviced by a wide variety of local, regional and long-distance trains.

Platforms 1-3 service Great Southern Rail’s weekly long distance trans-continental Indian Pacific service to Adelaide and Perth as well as NSW TrainLink interstate long distance services to Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Platforms 4-11 (and old platforms 12-15) service NSW TrainLink regional services to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Newcastle, South Coast, Southern Highlands and Wollongong.

Platforms 16-25 service Sydney Trains local services throughout suburban Sydney including City Circle line, Northern, North Shore and Western line, Inner West line, Bankstown line, Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line and Airport and South line services across Sydney.

In the coming months we want to see your favourite stations stations featured. Let us know what stations are your favourites and one of them might just be the next station of the month.

 

Featured Bus Route – January 2019

This month our featured bus route is Route 450 operated by Punchbowl Bus Company. It runs between Strathfield and Hurstville via Roselands, Lakemba and Beverley Hills.

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Route 450 started out life as Route 34 between Burwood and Bankstown at an unknown date in the early 1920s. By October 1926 it was rerouted to operate between Burwood to Hurstville. It ceased as it was competitive with Government railway or tram services under State Transport (Co- ordination) Act on 31 October 1931, however was later relicensed as a feeder for the Enfield to Hurstville section of the route on 31 December 1931. By 1946 the route had been extended to Strathfield Station. Upon the opening of Roselands shopping centre in October 1965, the route began diverting by there.

Its operation changed hands few times over the period as route 34. Initially it was operated by All-Gold Bus Service, which by the late 1940s was trading as Red & White Bus Service. Operations transferred to Red Top Transport Service by December 1948. Cumberland Coaches took over the service on 1 July 1977. Canterbury Bus Lines took over from 31 August 1983.

On 12 October 1995 Route 34 became Route 450 in the Sydney Region Route Number System. The service was later transferred to Punchbowl Bus Co on 20 April 1998. Beginning on 27 August 2007, peak hour trips were extended from Strathfield to Olympic Park. As a result of Ministry of Transport review of Region 5 coming into effect on 22 March 2010, off peak and weekend trips that did not travel to Olympic Park were extended from Strathfield to Burwood, alongside other route changes. From 5 June 2016 the extension to Olympic Park was cut and from 26 November 2017 the extension to Burwood was cut.

Today Route 450 takes around 50 minutes to operate end to end. Half hourly service is provided between 6am and 9pm on weekdays, with hourly service on weekends. The service is operated out of the two Punchbowl Bus Company depots in Riverwood.

 

Cancelled Ferries and Delayed Trains

Over this past week the government has sought to bury negative stories about the Sydney Transport network and its future development. The government has shelved the purchase of new ferries for the Parramatta River and have delayed the release of the business case for Sydney Metro West.

Documents released by the government show that funding for replacements for the 18 oldest ferries in the Sydney Ferry fleet is one of the most major funding pressure of Transport for NSW and would have an estimated cost of at least $120 million.

As part of these plans the government sought expression of interest in September 2017 for four new ferries  suitable for trips along the Parramatta River. These ferries would have carried 150-200 passengers and would enter service between 2019 and 2020, with an option for up to 12 more ferries to allow for further replacements and service expansion.

The government confirmed recently that those plans had fallen through, citing a lack of suitable off the shelf ferry designs and lack of interest from shipbuilders. Local interest groups along the rover are disappointed by the decision, as they claim they need to new ferries to allow for an increase in service due to current overcrowding issues. Ferries often operate at capacity from as early as 10am and as late as 7pm on warm summer weekends.

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A crowded Rivercat at Circular Quay – Transport NSW Blog Collection

Sydney Metro West is a much talked about and much needed new rail line between the CBD and Parramatta. The State Government has previously committed to have it open and operating by 2029, whilst the Labor opposition has pledged to have it open earlier, by 2024.

However the project is already running behind schedule. The final business case for the project was due for release by late 2018 but the government is still yet to release them. Internal documents and industry insiders suggest the cost of such as line could blow out to as much was $25 billion, well above the initial $18 billion price tag and that this cost could partially be to blame for the delay.

Both Sydney Metro and Andrew Constance were quick to stress the importance of the project however neither would comment on the business case or cost. This delay would likely be indicative of a delay to the start of construction, which was originally slated for mid 2019.

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Sydney Metro West Concept Map – NSW Government

New Year, Same Problems

Sydney Trains started off 2019 on the wrong foot last night, with a major system meltdown beginning around 6pm on New Years Eve and still continuing well into New Years Day.

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Line to enter Central Station at 2am – 7 News

As over a million people descended on Sydney Harbour for the famous midnight fireworks, the rail network began to crumble. Lightning strikes to critical rail infrastructure at both Central and Gordon started the domino affect necessary to cripple the network. At one point around 6:30pm no services were able to operate through the Suburban Platforms at Central Station. Initially minor signal failures were reported to be the cause. However this was later clarified to be major signal damage due to lightning, which too a number of hours to be rectified.

After the end of the celebrations and in the first few hours of 2019 was when the system saw major capacity issues. Customers attempting to enter both Wynyard and Town Hall stations found themselves being redirected to Central due to dangerous platform overcrowding. At Central, some people experienced crush injuries after a large majority of ticket barriers were closed to stem the flow of passengers. As a result, massive queues spilt out onto the roads at Central, with some people reportedly waiting over an hour just to enter the station. By this stage some trains were up to three and a half hours behind schedule, with one passenger reporting her train guard announcing something along the lines of “I wouldn’t rely on this train, I’d get a cab.” Despite claims all lines had a service every 15 minutes or better all night, some passengers complained that their line had seen no trains in over an hour at times.

As the dawn broke on 2019 and New Years Day continued, so did the train delays. As of this morning there are still delays on every train line, including a number of services that are well over two hours behind schedule. Trains are running out of order and with changed stopping patterns. These delays are likely to continue all day, as the network struggles to cope with even small delays. As of 11am, trains were not running o the T6 and T7 lines, as well as being suspended between Blacktown and Richmond on the T1 line and Sutherland and Cronulla on the T4 line.

But of course this whole fiasco begs one question, Why? Why did this happen on the biggest night of the year for Sydney Trains, when hundreds of thousands of people are using the rail network all at once? Why does one signal being struck by lightning cause the entire network to collapse? Why does this keep happening? We have now seen major network meltdown after major network meltdown for over a year. The ill-flated Novemeber 2017 timetables have since been replaced with new timetables that cut services and increased the networks capacity to recover in March 2018, but still we constantly see this type of meltdown. Even if inclement weather was once again the cause, is it acceptable to still be seeing delays 18 hours later? Surely there should be a better signalling system than one that crashes at the sight of lightening.

These meltdowns are a sign of a critically overstretched rail network. Transport For NSW need to do more to ensure that this doesn’t continue to happen. It is all well and good to blame someone else for the troubles, but this government needs to fix the problem urgently. We often hear the blame laid on Labor for doing nothing in 16 years of government. But after eight years in power, the blame now surely falls to the incumbent Liberal government. Even if the network was in a crumbling state when they inherited it, surely eight years is enough time to put in even temporary measures to fix the network. Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance, the ball is at your feet. In no way can you blame the frontline staff of the rail network like many frustrated passengers do, this is entirely the fault of upper management and government for years of underinvestment. Its an election year, surely the incumbent Liberals need to present a well running rail network and take some responsibility for the problems it faces if they want to be re-elected.

So once again its another year of the same problems aboard Sydney Trains. *Welcome to Sydney Trains, the next service to arrive is your late running*

 

2019. What to Expect

Happy New Year! From all of us at Transport NSW Blog we wish you a joyful and prosperous 2019. Here at Transport NSW Blog we have lots in store for 2019 to keep providing you with great content.

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More Buses and More Trains here on the blog in 2019

Our long time loyal readers affectionately nickname our site “the bus blog”.  This is kind of true, as a large majority of our posts relate to buses. Those who have been here since the start know buses are a large part of the reason why we started this blog and buses will always continue to be a big part of the blog. This year we are continuing with your favourite “Featured Bus Route” series and will continue to post lots of bus photos and changes to bus services.

Despite this, we plan to diversify Transport NSW Blog to a greater extent in 2019. This means more planes and trains. We will see a return to the much loved “Where Can I Fly” series in the first half of the year and a new aviation related series in the second half of the year. On the rail front, we will introduce a new “Station of the Month” series, based on the model of our “Featured Bus Route” series.

Additionally in 2019 we plan on working through the entirety of the blog to update and improve our content. We want our archives to be accurate and informative. Not all of our old posts meet that standard and as such they will be improved. To get a sneak peak of the improvements that are being made, see this post.

As always we will keep you up to date with the latest changes and developments right across NSW Transport. Keep sending in your photos and bus/station requests so that we can tailor our content to what you want to see.