Improving the cost efficiency of Sydney Trains operations

  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Sydney Trains currently needs every 65c for every dollar from the government to operate, fares cover the remaining 35c.
If this was reduced to below 50% by making it's operations more efficient.
The NSW Government would have around $1 Billion more to spend on things like constructing and operating more rail lines.

Sydney metro supporters can point to the Sydney Metro as the answer with it's automatic operation taking the cost of staff out of the equation, however, this will have a negative economic impact if more existing Sydney Trains lines are reclaimed to be converted to automated metro rapid transit operation, as more existing rails staff could be out of a job, alongside the lack of seats making suburban rail travel less comfortable, and driving more appealing.

So what are some ways, without resulting in staff cuts, could Sydney Trains be made more efficient? Would the following be reasonably practicable:

  • Build new rolling stock that can be easily divided into shorter sets
    Although pre-Waratah rolling stock can be divided into 4 carriage sets, for years, trains were operated with half the carriages locked with the lights off, as it was cheaper than joining and dividing trains.

    Nowadays, all Sydney Trains suburban services operated as 8 carriage trains (exceptions being some T5 Cumberland Line services, the T6 Carlingford Line, one morning peak express services from Epping to Sydney Terminal, and weekday T7 Olympic Park shuttles outside of special events. Because of this, newer rolling stock has been designed as permanently  coupled 8 carriage sets, and older rolling stock capable of being divided rarely ever are.

    So to make Sydney Trains operations more cost efficient and lower it's electricity cost, newer rolling stock needs to be able to be easily divided into shorter 2-3-4 carriage sets, and if possible, existing rolling stock should be modified so they can be efficiently divided.

    Efficiency benefits would be less electricity being used to move empty carraiges, less wear and tear on carriages, and the possiblity for higher services frequency's, there would also be the added benefit of making late night services safer with more passengers travelling closer to the guard.

  • Incorporate shuttle services into turnbacks for existing services (*not my idea*)
    Instead of having one train perform shuttle services between a few stations all day, and another terminating nearby, waiting on the platform adding to costs and providing no revenue before returning to the city, why not link these services?

    Examples of shuttle services include the T6 Carlingford Line, T7 Olympic Park Line, and South Cost Line suburban services. In the case of the T6 Carlingford Line and T7 Olympic Park Line, trains terminate at nearby stations, T3 Bankstown Line trains terminate at Lidcome where T7 Olympic Park Line shuttle trains operate from, and T2 Inner West trains terminate at Homebush (which provides limited services further west, prior to the new timetable, one had to catch two trains to travel the distance of one station from Homebush to Flemington), not too far down the line from Clyde, where T6 Carlingford Line trains operate from.

    Instead of having these lines operate as shuttle services, T2 Inner West trains could stop all stations from the City Circle to Clyde, and then all stations to Carlingford and return to the City, instead of inconveniently terminating at Homebush. Likewise, T3 Bankstown Line trains could stop all stations from the City Circle to Lidcombe via Bankstown and turn around at Olympic Park.

  • Consider manually operated doors (*not my idea*)
    Manually operated doors have been trialed before on C-Sets and G-Sets and proved unpopular, but maybe if people were educated with the benefits, they could be trialed again.

    During peak periods and at busier stations, doors should be opened automatically, but at quieter stations, the doors should be simply unlocked and only be opened by pressing a button, an announcement should play informing passengers if the doors will be opened automatically or not, whether doors are automatically opened, or manually opened, should be at the gaurd's discretion. Doors should also automatically close after a short time when a train terminates to reduce strain on the air-conditioning.

    This would have cost benefits of less wear and tear on the doors, less strain on the air-conditioning, and potentially lower dwell times (assuming passengers can be educated with manually opening the door as it would take the guard less time when ensuring it's safe to depart, there would also be the added benefit of passenger comfort not having the door open and exposing passengers to the elements just to have no one board or alight.

  • Signage to encourage passengers to spread out along the platform to reduce dwell time
    Those in support of the Sydney Metro point to the fact that single deck trains configured will high density seating, which is true, but how much of the increased dwell time issues on our existing double deck (DD) trains related to everyone trying to board through one of 16 doors because they don't