What can be done to improve suburban services in Newcastle and Wollongong

 
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Sydney has it's comprehensive growing suburban rail network and that is unfortunately the only prime focus for suburban commuter rail in NSW.

Yet Wollongong and Newcastle also have suburban services that appear to be implemented as an afterthought on the existing lines, and I was wondering, what could be done to improve these services.
Call me old fashioned but instead of high speed rail services linking these smaller cities to Sydney, I would prefer that public transport and job growth be improved within these cities to eliminate the need for a speedy commute to Sydney.

A brief description of current services and my proposed improvements:

WOLLONGONG:
Currently suburban services and provided by 4 carriage Tangaras (weekdays only) and OSCars. On weekdays, an hourly suburban services is provided shuttling between Waterfall and Port Kembla. On weekends, the hourly suburban service only shuttles between Thirroul and Port Kembla with every second intercity service providing the unuseful frequency of one train every 2 hours to stations between Otford and Austinmer.

Unfortunately connection times when travelling between stations Unanderra-Kiama and Lysaghts-Port Kembla are not considered and as a result, are 40 minutes average, too long to be useful.

How can these services be improved:
Set up two suburban routes: Waterfall-Port Kembla and Thirroul-Kiama, run both services at 30 minute frequencies, this will create a 15 minute frequencies between Thirroul and Coniston. Ensure that connection times at Coniston for those travelling etween stations Unanderra-Kiama and Lysaghts-Port Kembla are an average of 5-7 minutes.

Construct new suburban stations at Clifton, Mount St Thomas, Figtree, Brownsville, Pensore, Yallah/Haywards Bay, and Flinders.


NEWCASTLE:
Currently 'suburban services' are actually just all station Sydney services provided by 4 carriage OSCars (sometimes 8 in peak), however, these services used to be provided by 2 carriage K-Sets which shuttled between Newcastle and Morisset, and eventually Gosford before being replaced by the all station OSCar service to Sydney. These services are provided hourly on weekdays however on weekends, services are only provided once every 2 hours by every second intercity train, making them unuseful.

There is also the Hunter Line with suburban services being provided by Hunter and Endeavour railcar diesels, trains typically run twice an hour between Newcastle Intg and Telerah on weekdays, and once an hour on weekends.

How can these services be improved:
Firstly, rebuild the many lost railway lines in Newcastle (but that is another topic),

as for Newcastle-Morisst, it's simple, run services every 15 minutes and construct new suburban stations at Kotara (with a skybridge linking the station to Westfiled and the Homemaker's centre), Garden Subrub, Cardiff Heights, Glendale, and Argenton. Rename the existing Kotara station to Blackbutt and provide pedestrian access to the nearby Blackbutt, and install traffic lights to provide a safe place to cross the road at Cockle Creek (which should be renamed Boolaroo) linking the station to Bunnings, the new housing development, and proposed IKEA and Costco.

On the Hunter Line, construct new suburban stations at Islington (at the Clyde St level crossing, serving Newcastle TAFE), and Waratah West (at the Maud St bridge, serving the Mater Hospital).


Those are my thoughts, what are your's?

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  billybaxter Deputy Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
How much demand do you think there is for a better connection at Coniston? The only possible use of the Port Kembla line has ever been to bring workers to the industrial zone. Buses from Unanderra, Shellharbour and Wollongong to Warrawong are much better suited to most people's needs.
15 minute service to Morriset? Why do you think there is a need for this? This would provide enough seats for everybody living south of Fassifern to make multiple breturn trips every day. The population densities in both Newcastle and Wollongong regions are nowhere near enough for what you're suggesting.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
On Newcastle side, yes I agree the 1hrly frequency won't work for many. Need to look to increase to 30min all stoppers at least to Fassifern, Morriset, not sure.
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
How much demand do you think there is for a better connection at Coniston? The only possible use of the Port Kembla line has ever been to bring workers to the industrial zone. Buses from Unanderra, Shellharbour and Wollongong to Warrawong are much better suited to most people's needs.
billybaxter
Well if the trains are running anyway, does it do much harm providing a better connection? it can only increase patronage.
Unfortunately buses almost always operate lower frequencies than trains, with no service late at night or early in the morning, meaning they are unlikely to take people out of their cars.

It would be nice if the Port Kembla Line could be extended around the other side of Lake Illawarra, through Warrawong, Windang, and Shellharbour, this would make much better use of the line.

But unfortunately, there is no room and the only option is an expensive tunnel, I guess it depends how much the government values public transport outside of Sydney.


15 minute service to Morriset? Why do you think there is a need for this? This would provide enough seats for everybody living south of Fassifern to make multiple breturn trips every day.
billybaxter
Need to look to increase to 30min all stoppers at least to Fassifern, Morriset, not sure.
RTT_Rules
Mabye 15 minutes to Morriset is too much with the current density, 30 minute frequencies should be enough. Definitely need at least 15 minutes to Fassifern with a rebuilt Toronto Line, but I was not trying to dive too much into that topic (see here for that).

The upgrades to the line with new stations and existing stations being made accessible are essential to make the service work though.


The population densities in both Newcastle and Wollongong regions are nowhere near enough for what you're suggesting.
billybaxter
Not yet at least, but as the old saying goes "built it, and they will come", look at the Leppington Line, ghost trains when it opened but now it's well patronised.

Wouldn't it nice to live outside of Sydney without being a slave to the car?
  viaprojects Train Controller



NEWCASTLE:
Currently 'suburban services' ........ These services are provided hourly on weekdays however on weekends, services are only provided once every 2 hours by every second intercity train, making them unuseful.

Ethan1395


recheck the time table .. you have freight and passage services on two tracks




How can these services be improved:
Firstly, rebuild the many lost railway lines in Newcastle (but that is another topic),

Those are my thoughts, what are your's?
Ethan1395


keep them closed until you can quad the main rail line..
  billybaxter Deputy Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
Having stopping services with 15 minute headways to and from Morriset will saturate the line. At the moment, express services are 8 minutes faster than stoppers so an express that leaves 4 minutes before a local will arrive 3 or 4 minutes after the previous local. Without quadding, there's almost no room for anything else. So to give a few tens of thousands of people an excellent service that they don't really need and probably won't use anyway because their car is more comfortable and convenient, and they need to drive to the station and park in most cases, you'll need to spend big bikkies. You could of course get everybody in NSW to chip in, the north coast would definitely benefit from this, but not as much as if the money was put to a Fassifern - Hexham freight line. Maybe ask people who live there if they'd prefer the money be spent on this, or health, or education, or local roads. What do you think they'd say?
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
recheck the time table .. you have freight and passage services on two tracks

keep them closed until you can quad the main rail line..
viaprojects

Having stopping services with 15 minute headways to and from Morriset will saturate the line. At the moment, express services are 8 minutes faster than stoppers so an express that leaves 4 minutes before a local will arrive 3 or 4 minutes after the previous local. Without quadding, there's almost no room for anything else. So to give a few tens of thousands of people an excellent service that they don't really need and probably won't use anyway because their car is more comfortable and convenient, and they need to drive to the station and park in most cases, you'll need to spend big bikkies. You could of course get everybody in NSW to chip in, the north coast would definitely benefit from this, but not as much as if the money was put to a Fassifern - Hexham freight line. Maybe ask people who live there if they'd prefer the money be spent on this, or health, or education, or local roads. What do you think they'd say?
billybaxter

Scrap what I said about the 15 minutes to Morriset - 2 trains per hour is enough there, and intercity trains provide the service.

But have 15 minute services from Newcastle Intg to Fassifern with upgraded and additional stations, new stations would be absolutely necessary to make the service work considering the line passes major locations that either have no stations or stations with no safe place to cross the road.
Stations should be at: Newcastle Intg, Hamilton, Broadmeadow, Adamstown, Kotara (with skybridge linking to Homemakers and Westfield), Blackbutt (old Kotara station with pedestrian link to Blackbutt Reserve), Garden Suburb, Cardiff Heights, Cardiff (possibly moved closer to commercial area), Glendale (pedestian lines to Stockland), Argenton, Boolaroo (Cockle Creek renamed, with pedestrian crossings installed around the station), Teralba, Booragul, and Fassifern.
A rebuilt Toronto line would be beneficial here as Fassifern station is sort of isolated whereas the old Toronto station is a commercial area and would make for a better terminus.

The line would need to be quadded between Fassifern and Woodville Junction. Two tracks for suburban services and two tracks for freight/intercity.


Newcastle is a city that is entirely dependent on cars to the point of beyond ridiculousness where you can't even conveniently get across the road without driving. Spend the money on public transport, health, and education, and focus on getting people OFF the local roads.
Frequent feeder buses (as opposed to the infrequency scenic routes that are buses in Newcastle) with connection times could provide services to the stations and I imagine such a service just on the existing rail corridor would create demand for the old lines to be rebuilt.
Currently the car is more comfortable/convenient but an increasing population could change that, paid parking and toll roads can be used as an incentive to use public transport also, and the profits collected from these could be used to help cover construction/operating costs.
Might even take some pressure off Sydney since not everyone will have to live there is they don't want to be a slave to their cars.
  doridori Chief Commissioner

Nuke both areas, build all infrastructure underground, inclusive residential and leave topside as fertile farming land, like it once was (yes this includes Sydney)!
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
The problem with reading something such as the above Post is nobody knows if you are quite serious or quite loopy.
That's the problem with this kind of media, it is one dimensional.

Perhaps you need to re-evaluate where you live and move out of the densely populated parts of New South Wales... there's plenty of room and some lovely towns west of The Divide.

Mike.
  doridori Chief Commissioner

The problem with reading something such as the above Post is nobody knows if you are quite serious or quite loopy.
That's the problem with this kind of media, it is one dimensional.

Perhaps you need to re-evaluate where you live and move out of the densely populated parts of New South Wales... there's plenty of room and some lovely towns west of The Divide.

Mike.
The Vinelander
In all honesty, I would love to, yet like other, have reasons that tie me to where I live that are beyond my current control.

Oh and the idea is a serious one.
There are multiple benefits if you abandon personal bias/emotional attachment and assess the notion rationally.
And yes, I concede there would be a whole heap of crap to endure for it to be achievable too.
  Travelling Hooker Locomotive Driver

Location: Follows the weather up and down the coast
In all fairness, for regional cities Newcastle and Wollongong have pretty good rail services. Newcastle is half the size of Adelaide but generally has as good or better frequency (and certainly better trains).

And at least these lines follow the population and go somewhere, whereas the service to the Gold Coast, a city of comparable size to Newcastle, runs ten miles inland from the population belt along the coast and peters out in the middle of nowhere.

Sorry dear Varsity Lakes readers, but it is.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

answer is simple. Put in sections of quad track to allow express and freight to bypass all stop services. Then increase local all stops services and make all intercity services to Sydney limited stops.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

And at least these lines follow the population and go somewhere, whereas the service to the Gold Coast, a city of comparable size to Newcastle, runs ten miles inland from the population belt along the coast and peters out in the middle of nowhere.
Travelling Hooker

Well the light rail is designed now to take care of that problem. Would add that the gold coast line is only single track on some sections vs dual track for Newcastle and the hunter lines.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The problem with reading something such as the above Post is nobody knows if you are quite serious or quite loopy.
The Vinelander

definitely the later!!! How can you nuke something and then have it be fertile for farming.
  viaprojects Train Controller

answer is simple. Put in sections of quad track to allow express and freight to bypass all stop services. Then increase local all stops services and make all intercity services to Sydney limited stops.
simstrain


done to a point ... with some passing loops for the freight services... only problem is moving the mountains to clean up the line before adding track to any section of the line ..
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
The problem with reading something such as the above Post is nobody knows if you are quite serious or quite loopy. That's the problem with this kind of media, it is one dimensional.

Perhaps you need to re-evaluate where you live and move out of the densely populated parts of New South Wales... there's plenty of room and some lovely towns west of The Divide.

Mike.
The Vinelander
The difference here is that Wollongong and Newcastle definitely have the necessary density and population to support local suburban rail services where the lovely towns west of The Divide obviously do not.

There is no reason why Sydney should be the only place in NSW where you don't have to be a slave to the car.


In all fairness, for regional cities Newcastle and Wollongong have pretty good rail services. Newcastle is half the size of Adelaide but generally has as good or better frequency (and certainly better trains).

And at least these lines follow the population and go somewhere, whereas the service to the Gold Coast, a city of comparable size to Newcastle, runs ten miles inland from the population belt along the coast and peters out in the middle of nowhere.

Sorry dear Varsity Lakes readers, but it is.
Travelling Hooker
Are you referring to intercity services? those are decent, but I'm talking about the local suburban services which are terrible!
In Newcastle, local services (which are now actually just all station Sydney services) only run once an hour, and don't even run at all on weekends, forcing every second intercity service to stop at every station north of Wyong giving the local stations the very useful frequency of 1 train every 2 hours.
But the worst part is, the line runs right past the places where people want to go, there is just no station, and if there is one, there is no safe place to cross the road to access it, it might as well be like the Gold Coast line running ten miles inland from the population belt if nothing is going to change there.

In Wollongong things are slightly better, with local stations between Thirroul and Port Kembla getting a consistent hourly service on both weekdays and weekends, and stations here are in appropriate places, but the stations between Waterfall/Helensburgh and Thirroul do not receive a local service on weekends, which once again, forces every second intercity service to stop at every station between these locations.
And then there is the fact that there is no local service at all between Coniston and Kiama, forcing every intercity train to stop at all stations between these locations, on both weekdays and weekends.
And then there is the poor unusable connection time of 40 minutes for those travelling between stations Unanderra-Kiama and Lysaghts-Port Kembla.


answer is simple. Put in sections of quad track to allow express and freight to bypass all stop services. Then increase local all stops services and make all intercity services to Sydney limited stops.
simstrain
this guy has the right idea
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

It is the only way to achieve a better service for the main north / newcastle line. Amplify the track and stations to allow more services to operate.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Newcastle Line,

- Difficult to add more trains in peak, so they need to be longer.
- Straighten out bends to Mt Colah to Berowa, triple track
- By pass Cowan by staying in a tunnel on east side of Freeway
- Straighten out bends along Cockle Creek, triple track
- Build a dedicated freight bridge over Hawesberry  to give the current bridge a decent life and minimise damage
- Where line turns right to enter Woy Woy tunnel, go straight into a 5km long twin track tunnel to come out near right hand bend north of Kooliwong (saves 5km alone)
- Straighten bends north of Gosford, long sections of triple track at same time.
- By-pass to Hexman for freight and regional.

- All new work aim for top speed of 160km/h running

You have just cut 20-30min off the time to Newcastle, half that to Gosford.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

But the worst part is, the line runs right past the places where people want to go, there is just no station, and if there is one, there is no safe place to cross the road to access it, it might as well be like the Gold Coast line running ten miles inland from the population belt if nothing is going to change there.

In Wollongong things are slightly better, with local stations between Thirroul and Port Kembla
Ethan1395

This is quite a sore point with me: appalling pedestrian access to Public Transport facilities.

Some notable issues on the South Coast:  

It's all but impossible to walk from Shellharbour Village to Shellharbour Junction station.  The access paths to Shellharbour Rd (the most direct way) are fenced off!  The only way is indirectly along Dunmore Rd, which has no pedestrian facilities or even access.

Oak Flats station is just under 1000m from Oak Flats Village, but there are no pedestrian facilities to get across Pioneer Drive.  It's an 800m detour for pedestrians.  It's even harder to get from Shellharbour City/Stockland on foot.  It should be a pleasant 20-30min walk, but it's not.

Albion Park village - and the 100k people living in the new housing estates there, at Mt Terry and now Calderwood, literally has no pedestrian access to Albion Park rail at all (unless you count making the 3km detour along the flood prone bike paths in Croome Park).

The only reason to use Bombo station is to go to the beach there, but it's almost a 1000m walk to get from the station to anywhere you can cross the highway, or the railway to get anywhere else.  People used to get the train then wander over the tracks informally to the beach.  All that is fenced off now.  However it does have a bus bay and a small commuter parking lot.  

East side of Ununderra is another example: a small one lane road bridge (and this is used quite a bit by tourists naively getting the train down to the Nan Tien Temple).


I think this just illustrates just how car dominated the transport thinking is.  WTF is the point of providing car only access to public transport facilities?  By definition, the people using PT arn't going to have a car with them!
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland

This is quite a sore point with me: appalling pedestrian access to Public Transport facilities.

Some notable issues on the South Coast:  

It's all but impossible to walk from Shellharbour Village to Shellharbour Junction station.  The access paths to Shellharbour Rd (the most direct way) are fenced off!  The only way is indirectly along Dunmore Rd, which has no pedestrian facilities or even access.

Oak Flats station is just under 1000m from Oak Flats Village, but there are no pedestrian facilities to get across Pioneer Drive.  It's an 800m detour for pedestrians.  It's even harder to get from Shellharbour City/Stockland on foot.  It should be a pleasant 20-30min walk, but it's not.

Albion Park village - and the 100k people living in the new housing estates there, at Mt Terry and now Calderwood, literally has no pedestrian access to Albion Park rail at all (unless you count making the 3km detour along the flood prone bike paths in Croome Park).

The only reason to use Bombo station is to go to the beach there, but it's almost a 1000m walk to get from the station to anywhere you can cross the highway, or the railway to get anywhere else.  People used to get the train then wander over the tracks informally to the beach.  All that is fenced off now.  However it does have a bus bay and a small commuter parking lot.  

East side of Ununderra is another example: a small one lane road bridge (and this is used quite a bit by tourists naively getting the train down to the Nan Tien Temple).


I think this just illustrates just how car dominated the transport thinking is.  WTF is the point of providing car only access to public transport facilities?  By definition, the people using PT arn't going to have a car with them!
djf01
A lot of these pedestrian missing links you mention, would be dirt cheap to fix and would likely deliver large community benefits.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

But the worst part is, the line runs right past the places where people want to go, there is just no station, and if there is one, there is no safe place to cross the road to access it, it might as well be like the Gold Coast line running ten miles inland from the population belt if nothing is going to change there.

In Wollongong things are slightly better, with local stations between Thirroul and Port Kembla

This is quite a sore point with me: appalling pedestrian access to Public Transport facilities.

Some notable issues on the South Coast:  

It's all but impossible to walk from Shellharbour Village to Shellharbour Junction station.  The access paths to Shellharbour Rd (the most direct way) are fenced off!  The only way is indirectly along Dunmore Rd, which has no pedestrian facilities or even access.

Oak Flats station is just under 1000m from Oak Flats Village, but there are no pedestrian facilities to get across Pioneer Drive.  It's an 800m detour for pedestrians.  It's even harder to get from Shellharbour City/Stockland on foot.  It should be a pleasant 20-30min walk, but it's not.

Albion Park village - and the 100k people living in the new housing estates there, at Mt Terry and now Calderwood, literally has no pedestrian access to Albion Park rail at all (unless you count making the 3km detour along the flood prone bike paths in Croome Park).

The only reason to use Bombo station is to go to the beach there, but it's almost a 1000m walk to get from the station to anywhere you can cross the highway, or the railway to get anywhere else.  People used to get the train then wander over the tracks informally to the beach.  All that is fenced off now.  However it does have a bus bay and a small commuter parking lot.  

East side of Ununderra is another example: a small one lane road bridge (and this is used quite a bit by tourists naively getting the train down to the Nan Tien Temple).


I think this just illustrates just how car dominated the transport thinking is.  WTF is the point of providing car only access to public transport facilities?  By definition, the people using PT arn't going to have a car with them!
djf01
You need to speak to your local council as that is there job.
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
But the worst part is, the line runs right past the places where people want to go, there is just no station, and if there is one, there is no safe place to cross the road to access it, it might as well be like the Gold Coast line running ten miles inland from the population belt if nothing is going to change there.

In Wollongong things are slightly better, with local stations between Thirroul and Port Kembla

This is quite a sore point with me: appalling pedestrian access to Public Transport facilities.

Some notable issues on the South Coast:  

It's all but impossible to walk from Shellharbour Village to Shellharbour Junction station.  The access paths to Shellharbour Rd (the most direct way) are fenced off!  The only way is indirectly along Dunmore Rd, which has no pedestrian facilities or even access.

Oak Flats station is just under 1000m from Oak Flats Village, but there are no pedestrian facilities to get across Pioneer Drive.  It's an 800m detour for pedestrians.  It's even harder to get from Shellharbour City/Stockland on foot.  It should be a pleasant 20-30min walk, but it's not.

Albion Park village - and the 100k people living in the new housing estates there, at Mt Terry and now Calderwood, literally has no pedestrian access to Albion Park rail at all (unless you count making the 3km detour along the flood prone bike paths in Croome Park).

The only reason to use Bombo station is to go to the beach there, but it's almost a 1000m walk to get from the station to anywhere you can cross the highway, or the railway to get anywhere else.  People used to get the train then wander over the tracks informally to the beach.  All that is fenced off now.  However it does have a bus bay and a small commuter parking lot.

East side of Ununderra is another example: a small one lane road bridge (and this is used quite a bit by tourists naively getting the train down to the Nan Tien Temple).


I think this just illustrates just how car dominated the transport thinking is. WTF is the point of providing car only access to public transport facilities? By definition, the people using PT arn't going to have a car with them!
djf01

Also, there is no safe pedestrian access to Cringila Station from the residential area, extremely limiting the use of the station.

Anyway, a few notable examples of the problem in Newcastle:

-The Mater Hospital is near the railway line, but there is no station nearby.

-Newcastle TAFE is near the railway line, but there is no station nearby.

-at Hamilton station, there is no crossing cross busy Beaumont Street, but good thing there is crossings on the quite side streets opposite the station - now seriously, how does this possible happen?

-at Kotara, there is no station serving the busy commerical area which lies adjacent to the railway line, the nearest stations are 1.6km and 1.2km away. To top that off, there is no direct pedestrian access between Westfield and the Homemakers Centre, forcing pedestrains to take a long detour and enter the same way the cars do.

-at Kotara station (miles from the commercial area), the popular Blackbutt Nature Reserve is not too far away, but there is no pedestrian access to this popular destination.

-Kotara and Cardiff stations are far apart separated by steep terrain and there no intermediate stations between there to serve residents.

-The busy Stockland Glendale shopping centre is adjacent to the railway line with no station.

-Cockle Creek station has a large bunnings across the road from it, and there is a new housing development being built nearby, but there is no safe place to cross the busy Lake Road to access the station, there are no crossings, no traffic lights, the nearest intersection is a large multi-lane roundabout.


I have heard that the reason Warabrook station was built to serve the University of Newcastle was because students were jumping off of trains at that location, I'm not sure how true that is but it wouldn't surprise me.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

You need to speak to your local council as that is there job.
simstrain

Blame someone else.  Problem "solved".  What would we do without you Sims.
  mikado5917 Station Staff

You need to speak to your local council as that is there job.

Blame someone else.  Problem "solved".  What would we do without you Sims.
djf01
In fact Sims, since the majority of the examples quoted are roads under the control of the RMS, the local council has little influence as what the RMS says, goes. I speak from the experience of a three-term local government councillor, and bitter clashes between the local knowledge of council officers and deskbound RMS engineers, where the RMS reliance on computer models left local communities worse off.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

As for going south it would help if the line had 2 extra tracks between hurstville and sutherland.

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