Thirroul rail tunnel would be considered under Labor government

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 20 Feb 2019 15:45
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
What would this mean for station access or would the tunnel be built between current stations?

Thirroul rail tunnel would be considered under Labor government

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  tazzer96 Deputy Commissioner

I support this 100%.  The stations between waterfall and thirroul with the exception of helengsburgh are very lightly patronised anyway.  
Helensburgh could still be supported by an extension of suburban services.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
The tunnel (actually the Coal Cliff Tunnel) gets a mention for replacement every year or so and has been for decades.

Nothing new.

Dredged out again as an Election is near.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
I support this 100%.  The stations between waterfall and thirroul with the exception of helengsburgh are very lightly patronised anyway.  
Helensburgh could still be supported by an extension of suburban services.
tazzer96
I did this exercise some time ago, if you draw a line through the mountains between Waterfall and Thirrol, even keeping west of the mines to address concerns of others you could build a single station underground near Helensbourgh then all the others that are now by-passed are within 5-10km tops of the a railway station.

Now to appease the voters along this lightly used section of line, you could simply keep a 2 x 2 car set based at Waterfall and run a shuttle back and forwards to Thirroul. Assuming no changes to the stations, both have the infrastructure in place to run a shuttle. Ultimately its likely to flop on numbers, but at minimal cost the govt can say they tried after 2-3 years and cancel.
  Transtopic Assistant Commissioner

I support this 100%.  The stations between waterfall and thirroul with the exception of helengsburgh are very lightly patronised anyway.  
Helensburgh could still be supported by an extension of suburban services.
tazzer96
I like the idea of extending suburban services from Sydney to Helensburgh and maintaining a Wollongong suburban service to Stanwell Park, effectively as a branch.  The rest of the line to be closed and bypassed by the new tunnel.  Will be dependent on future freight strategy though.
  SAB Chief Train Controller

To keep “west of the mines” you would have to be in lake Burragarang.

If you google “Bulli Coal Seam” or similar, you will see it’s not only the cost that keeps this project from being built.

There’s some online stories of being able  to drive underground from Coal Cliff to Oakdale
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I have seen a map of those underground tunnels and know that statement to be true. Also if you live in western sydney then you might be surprised to know there is probably several shafts underneath you as well.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I've been doodling/foaming away at this project, and posted a few thoughts down in Armchair Operators, starting here: https://www.railpage.com.au/f-p2131426.htm#2131426

As I understand it, the ALP's policy position is to divert $2.4bil earmarked by the Coalition for the F6 toward rail Upgrades.

It is my view that $2.4bil is more than enough to convert the South Coast line into a high speed (by Aus standards), high capacity interurban system with suburban frequencies and patronage.  Equally, you could spend $6bil an achieve nothing.
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

We have beaten this path before in other threads. If people want to go faster between Wollongong and Sydney, there is the M1. For everyone else, there is a breathtaking railway line with uninterrupted ocean views and National Park views which in the end, matches the time traveled with a car, if the city is the ultimate destination.

Why doesn't the ALP propose something like an extension of the rail beyond Bomaderry to take pax all the way down to Bega, or perhaps Eden?

This would serve populations that include Jervis Bay (and their traffic congested beaches), Milton-Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Bega/Tathra, Merimbula etc.

It would put the cat among the pigeons in Constance's electorate, and the proposed budget to be wasted on a Thirroul tunnel could go much further by helping tourism, and amenity all the way down the far south coast. How about a connecting line also between Canberra and Batemans Bay allowing for easier access to the coast than the Kings Highway. Maybe services to Canberra can be bi-directional in a loop to/from the coast back to the NSW capital of the universe.
  doridori Chief Commissioner

"Free drugs will be considered by the Centrist Government"

Stupid headline regurgitated as fact by media!
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The car isn't actually faster then the train even with all of those curves in the current alignment south of waterfall taken in to account. Whatever time you gain to waterfall you lose between waterfall and the sydney cbd. If some line straightening could occur then for sure this is a better solution but at the moment capacity is the more important item on the list then speed.
  jdmilne Beginner

We have beaten this path before in other threads. If people want to go faster between Wollongong and Sydney, there is the M1. For everyone else, there is a breathtaking railway line with uninterrupted ocean views and National Park views which in the end, matches the time traveled with a car, if the city is the ultimate destination.

Why doesn't the ALP propose something like an extension of the rail beyond Bomaderry to take pax all the way down to Bega, or perhaps Eden?

This would serve populations that include Jervis Bay (and their traffic congested beaches), Milton-Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Bega/Tathra, Merimbula etc.

It would put the cat among the pigeons in Constance's electorate, and the proposed budget to be wasted on a Thirroul tunnel could go much further by helping tourism, and amenity all the way down the far south coast. How about a connecting line also between Canberra and Batemans Bay allowing for easier access to the coast than the Kings Highway. Maybe services to Canberra can be bi-directional in a loop to/from the coast back to the NSW capital of the universe.
ANR
I agree. I have a particular affection for the Waterfall to Thirroul line. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline anywhere in the world.  Why spend money on the new construction of an already existing service. If traveling times are a problem, work on different timetabling. I remember the "Good (???) old days" traveling on that line to teachers' college, before its duplication. In the 80's, when we lived in Corrimal my wife and I would take our young sons on a train ride to Sydney, some Saturdays. It was always a great trip. What is there now is far better than what was available previously.

If there's money to spend on a project like this, then extend the South Coast line, as suggested above. I can't understand why the rail stops at Bomaderry. Is the Shoalhaven more difficult to build a bridge over than the Hawkesbury?

This just sounds like another desperate bid to attract votes, which apparently didn't work very well . . .
  maestro Junior Train Controller

If people want to go faster between Wollongong and Sydney, there is the M1.
ANR

Really! Is there any public transport at all on the M1?

For everyone else, there is a breathtaking railway line with uninterrupted ocean views and National Park views
ANR

It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline anywhere in the world.
jdmilne

I agree, we are blessed with such a picturesque line, except for commuters who travel through there when it's dark and can't actually see it, and for that part of the year when it is light enough to see it's still the same day after day after day, it's not like they get new views each trip. Yes, it's nice, but for a commuter who's travelling the same route day after day, year after year, you'd happily trade in the views for an extra hour or two a week with your kids.


If traveling times are a problem, work on different timetabling.
jdmilne

You might have to explain this, as I don't understand how this would work. It sounds as if you're saying that we can just timetable trains to travel faster around those slow windy sections of track, or not have to wait for opposing movements in the coalcliff tunnel. I can't see how timetabling would make a significant difference.


Why spend money on the new construction of an already existing service.
jdmilne

Well, they are seriously talking about extending the F6 which would also qualify as "construction of an already existing service". Enhancing the rail line would increase the capacity (noting that the bankstown line paths would become available once that section is diverted to the metro tunnels) and would reduce trip times. More frequent and faster services would encourage more people to use the line rather than drive, which would reduce the need for the F6 extension and reduce the number of cars going into Sydney. I would much rather investment in rail as opposed to building bigger freeways.

Why doesn't the ALP propose something like an extension of the rail beyond Bomaderry to take pax all the way down to Bega, or perhaps Eden?
ANR


If there's money to spend on a project like this, then extend the South Coast line, as suggested above. I can't understand why the rail stops at Bomaderry.
jdmilne

Yes, that would be nice. I've always hated how the line has stopped at Bomaderry, however I can't see it being worthwhile to extend it. It's too far to get many commuters, and a couple of beach trains every weekend just won't justify the cost. It's just not comparable to the at-capacity Wollongong to Sydney line where they are now planning massive new roads running in parallel to it, and there are people who would likely switch from car to train if the transit times could be significantly reduced as the extensive public transport network in Sydney makes it easy to get around without a car.

If we had a tunnel from Thirroul to get up to the top of the escarpment then run near the freeway across Maddens Plains and rejoin the existing alignment just prior to Waterfall, we could have all-stations trains from Wollongong to Waterfall along the existing alignment, trains from Kiama would express from Wollongong to Thirroul, stop alongside the all-station trains to allow transfers, then express along the new route to Waterfall then all the way into Sydney. There are a few improvements that would need to be done between Waterfall and Hurstville to allow more train movements, but the cost of all of these is significantly less than what is proposed for the F6 extension.

I think that it's a shame that we have a corridor with large numbers of commuters heading to a city with a reasonably accessible public transport network and the government is talking about building more roads when the rail line could do so much more for a lower cost.
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Yes, that would be nice. I've always hated how the line has stopped at Bomaderry, however I can't see it being worthwhile to extend it. It's too far to get many commuters, and a couple of beach trains every weekend just won't justify the cost. It's just not comparable to the at-capacity Wollongong to Sydney line where they are now planning massive new roads running in parallel to it, and there are people who would likely switch from car to train if the transit times could be significantly reduced as the extensive public transport network in Sydney makes it easy to get around without a car.

If we had a tunnel from Thirroul to get up to the top of the escarpment then run near the freeway across Maddens Plains and rejoin the existing alignment just prior to Waterfall, we could have all-stations trains from Wollongong to Waterfall along the existing alignment, trains from Kiama would express from Wollongong to Thirroul, stop alongside the all-station trains to allow transfers, then express along the new route to Waterfall then all the way into Sydney. There are a few improvements that would need to be done between Waterfall and Hurstville to allow more train movements, but the cost of all of these is significantly less than what is proposed for the F6 extension.

I think that it's a shame that we have a corridor with large numbers of commuters heading to a city with a reasonably accessible public transport network and the government is talking about building more roads when the rail line could do so much more for a lower cost.
maestro
I like the way you think. The way I read your post implies you want 4 tracks between Thirroul and Wollongong (or Coniston), as it's the only way all station trains would be able to stop alongside express trains from Wollongong to Thirroul, this should hopefully allow for an increase frequency in local services.

I also like you suggest keeping the original line for all-station services, most people would talk about low patronage for the suburban stations along the line and suggest closing it, but few stop and actually ask the question about why patronage is so low, and answer it with how terrible the local service is.

Just one thing though, what would the price tag be for a Thirroul-Waterfall tunnel? would it be possible to build a new tunnel-free alignment and have travel times match that of the car, or even ease curves on the existing alignment.
If the train is faster on both side of the alignment, the new or modified alignment only needs to match the travel time of the car, not exceed it, to be the faster travel option (the train is already faster than the car when travelling to the Sydney CBD, but not everyone is).
Realistically, public transport needs to be cheaper since petrol is cheaper than adult fare when travelling in a group of multiple people, meaning things need to be cost effective. If it's possible to avoid an expensive tunnel, then by all means, it should be avoided.
Also, the price of the tunnel could instead be used to improve local public transport within Wollongong and make it possible to move around with ease without needing a car.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Just one thing though, what would the price tag be for a Thirroul-Waterfall tunnel?
Ethan1395


$5 billion.


Would it be possible to build a new tunnel-free alignment and have travel times match that of the car, or even ease curves on the existing alignment.?
Ethan1395

Cheaper, definitely.  Tunnel free?  No, not really.  


If the train is faster on both side of the alignment, the new or modified alignment only needs to match the travel time of the car, not exceed it, to be the faster travel option (the train is already faster than the car when travelling to the Sydney CBD, but not everyone is).
Ethan1395

Perhaps you could add some big deviations to the F6 to achieve the same thing by making the road slower.

As usual, refer to my contributions down in Armchair Operators.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Tunnel would be the only option but there is also the problem of the coal mine and some coastal erosion and so $5 billion is probably a little on the cheap side.

The express train is already faster from Wollongong to Sydney since cars take another hour to get in to sydney once they hit waterfall. the express only takes 1 hour and 24 minutes from wollongong to central. The car takes longer then that.
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Just one thing though, what would the price tag be for a Thirroul-Waterfall tunnel?
Ethan1395


$5 billion.


Would it be possible to build a new tunnel-free alignment and have travel times match that of the car, or even ease curves on the existing alignment.?
Cheaper, definitely.  Tunnel free?  No, not really.  


If the train is faster on both side of the alignment, the new or modified alignment only needs to match the travel time of the car, not exceed it, to be the faster travel option (the train is already faster than the car when travelling to the Sydney CBD, but not everyone is).
Perhaps you could add some big deviations to the F6 to achieve the same thing by making the road slower.

As usual, refer to my contributions down in Armchair Operators.
djf01
Well by tunnel free, I really mean not requiring a long continuous tunnel.

Of course, I wish you could add big deviations to the F6 to make the car slower, but obviously not practical, with that being said, I would support replacing with traffic lights with roundabouts to improve pedestrian accessibility, which may have the bonus of slowing down car travel,
I also support introducing more paid parking and tolls where the revenue collected can help fund public transport.

Also, your Armchair Operators contribution video said "400k people given new practical access to the Sydney Labour market" and talked about lower unemployment in the area, would you agree that it would be better to have a Wollongong Labour Market so people can work in the same area they live in, which would put less pressue into an expensive overcrowded Sydney, and part of this would be to have a usable, reliable, connected, and frequent public transport network for Wollongong based around a suburban rail system.

Tunnel would be the only option but there is also the problem of the coal mine and some coastal erosion and so $5 billion is probably a little on the cheap side.

The express train is already faster from Wollongong to Sydney since cars take another hour to get in to sydney once they hit waterfall. the express only takes 1 hour and 24 minutes from wollongong to central. The car takes longer then that.
simstrain
Train is faster to the Sydney CBD, but not everyone is travelling to/from the Sydney CBD.
All a new/modified alignment needs to do is match the travel time by car, since the train is already faster either side of it.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Also, your Armchair Operators contribution video said "400k people given new practical access to the Sydney Labour market" and talked about lower unemployment in the area, would you agree that it would be better to have a Wollongong Labour Market so people can work in the same area they live in ...
Ethan1395


No, I would not.  

If this were so, why not just cancel the existing trains service?  

And why bother with suburban rail?  Just have a better Dapto labour market and there is no need for trains at all.  Or (heaven forbid) even roads!  

Tunnel would be the only option but there is also the problem of the coal mine and some coastal erosion and so $5 billion is probably a little on the cheap side.
Sims


$5bil for 2 x 21km single bore tunnels is $120m/km.  The published estimates I've seen for this are $50m-$80m/km IIRC, but I typically use $100m for tunneling.  But that doesn't allow for the Metro interchange stations at Watefall and Thirroul.

The express train is already faster from Wollongong to Sydney since cars take another hour to get in to sydney once they hit waterfall. the express only takes 1 hour and 24 minutes from wollongong to central. The car takes longer then that.
Sims





1hr 28min by car over 83km by road when I checked google (allowing for current known congestion and roadworks).  1:25 by rail on the next service according to NSW trip planner, 83km by rail.    58km/hr.
  Ethan1395 Junior Train Controller

Location: An OSCar H Set
Also, your Armchair Operators contribution video said "400k people given new practical access to the Sydney Labour market" and talked about lower unemployment in the area, would you agree that it would be better to have a Wollongong Labour Market so people can work in the same area they live in ...
No, I would not.  

If this were so, why not just cancel the existing trains service?  

And why bother with suburban rail?  Just have a better Dapto labour market and there is no need for trains at all.  Or (heaven forbid) even roads!
djf01
I'm a little confused by this response? What are you serious about and what are you being sarcastic about?

If Wollongong could be an independent city with it's own labour market and it's own public transport/suburban rail network, the Sydney services would still have their places as some people would still need to commute to a the capital for certain jobs, flight/regional train connections, and day trips.

By being people able to work in the same area they live in, I don't mean the exact same suburb, just the same city, for example; someone could live in Belambi and work in the Wollongong CBD, live in Towradgi and work in Port Kembla, or live in Haywards Bay and work in Dapto. Meaning suburban rail would be necessary to reduce the cost of living and give people a choice of where they can live if they want to catch public transport and have a job (Newcastle, Sydney, or Wollongong, not just Sydney) which would help solve the issue of unaffordable housing and take the pressure off an expensive and overcrowded Sydney.

Australia is currently going through a crisis of affordable housing and a high cost of living, and a big issue relating to that is the average family of 4 has the choice of:
 -live in Sydney with expensive housing and get a way with owning just 1 car = high cost of living
 -live outside of Sydney in Newcastle or Wollongong and own 4 cars due to inadequate public transport= high cost of living
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I'm not sure what he is getting at either.

This tunnel will have to be large bore for double deck trains and there will have to be filtration equipment for taking care of diesel emissions from locomotives and XPT's. There will most likely also need to be stabilisation works since a TBM will probably not work in this case due to the issues I mentioned in regards to mining. The new metro excluding the existing epping to chatswood bit is 23km's and cost $7 billion so that is going to need to be your starting point on costs.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

Also, your Armchair Operators contribution video said "400k people given new practical access to the Sydney Labour market" and talked about lower unemployment in the area, would you agree that it would be better to have a Wollongong Labour Market so people can work in the same area they live in ...
No, I would not.  

If this were so, why not just cancel the existing trains service?  

And why bother with suburban rail?  Just have a better Dapto labour market and there is no need for trains at all.  Or (heaven forbid) even roads!
I'm a little confused by this response?

What are you serious about and what are you being sarcastic about?

If Wollongong could be an independent city with it's own labour market and it's own public transport/suburban rail network, ...
Ethan1395

My view is that transport links are a good thing.  They are infrastructure that allows economic activity that otherwise would not occur.

Whenever anyone advances the argument "the people of West Dapto should just get a job in West Dapto", what they are really doing is viewing transport links themselves as a problem.  In other words it's "solving" the transport "problem" by denying any need for it.

In the case of the argument you are running for better local rail services, transport links are a good thing, and I support it.  

But it makes no sense to me to do this at the expense of the longer transport links rail has traditionally serviced, and in my view is much better suited to delivering.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

This tunnel will have to be large bore for double deck trains and there will have to be filtration equipment for taking care of diesel emissions from locomotives and XPT's. There will most likely also need to be stabilisation works since a TBM will probably not work in this case due to the issues I mentioned in regards to mining. The new metro excluding the existing epping to chatswood bit is 23km's and cost $7 billion so that is going to need to be your starting point on costs.
simstrain

The NWRL Metro was just over 30km of new tunnelling (2 x 15km single bore), but over multiple sites.  Plus there was 8 new mostly underground stations, 5 station refits, a new fleet, storage and service centre, 10+km of elevated mostly above ground route (elevated is typically 1/2 to 2/3rds the cost of tunnelling), the NWRL tunnels were build as 8 (IIRC) separate segments, in very urban environment - which all adds to the cost.

I haven't seen actual cost breakdowns of this, but my understanding is the tunnelling element of the NWRL was well under $3b, and in the order of - but still less than - $100m per km.



By this measure it should be possible to built the Waterfall to Thirroul tunnels for in the order of $4b, subject to the risks associated with mine subsidence legacy.  Indeed, IIRC $4b was a serious estimate considered by the NSW cabinet at one stage.
  arctic Deputy Commissioner

Location: Zurich
This tunnel will have to be large bore for double deck trains and there will have to be filtration equipment for taking care of diesel emissions from locomotives and XPT's. There will most likely also need to be stabilisation works since a TBM will probably not work in this case due to the issues I mentioned in regards to mining. The new metro excluding the existing epping to chatswood bit is 23km's and cost $7 billion so that is going to need to be your starting point on costs.

The NWRL Metro was just over 30km of new tunnelling (2 x 15km single bore), but over multiple sites.  Plus there was 8 new mostly underground stations, 5 station refits, a new fleet, storage and service centre, 10+km of elevated mostly above ground route (elevated is typically 1/2 to 2/3rds the cost of tunnelling), the NWRL tunnels were build as 8 (IIRC) separate segments, in very urban environment - which all adds to the cost.

I haven't seen actual cost breakdowns of this, but my understanding is the tunnelling element of the NWRL was well under $3b, and in the order of - but still less than - $100m per km.



By this measure it should be possible to built the Waterfall to Thirroul tunnels for in the order of $4b, subject to the risks associated with mine subsidence legacy.  Indeed, IIRC $4b was a serious estimate considered by the NSW cabinet at one stage.
djf01
The metro website gives this breakdown:
Tunnels and Stations Civil works $1.15 billion contract awarded to CPB John Holland Dragados (CPBJHD), formerly Thiess John Holland Dragados on 24 June 2013. This contract involves building the 15 kilometre twin tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping. The longest railway tunnels to ever be built in Australia.

Surface and Viaduct Civil works $340 million contract awarded to the Impregilo-Salini joint venture on 17 December 2013. This contract involves building the four-kilometre elevated skytrain between Bella Vista and Rouse Hill, including a 270-metre cable-stayed bridge over Windsor Road at Rouse Hill.

Operations, Trains and Systems $3.7 billion operations contract awarded to Northwest Rapid Transit on 15 September 2014. This contract involves delivering eight new railway stations, 4000 commuter car parking spaces, Sydney’s new metro trains and upgrading the railway between Chatswood and Epping. It is the largest Public Private Partnership ever awarded in NSW.
Sydney Metro
https://www.sydneymetro.info/northwest/project-overview

The biggest chunk is the Operations contract but it includes supply of trains, fitout of stations etc. This part is UGL and they state on their website this is 1.3B.

So a better breakdown might be:
  • Tunnels and Stations Civil works - 1.15b
  • Surface and Viaduct Civil works -  .34b
  • Trains and Systems - 1.3b
  • Operations - 2.4b


It is interesting to note of the total cost of 5.2bn, 46% is for something entirely unrelated to construction.

So it would appear extrapolating Metro to other projects with all the above elements included exaggerates the value when looking at construction costs only.

Cheers
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Is this new tunnel not going to have operations on it as well. Will it not have freight and passenger trains going up and down. Will it not need exhaust stacks for diesel trains, will it not need overhead and tracks and signalling just as the metro has. So before you go saying it will be cheaper you should think again. This tunnel is longer and larger and will have some issues that the north west metro never had.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

I'm not sure what he is getting at either.
simstrain

Simple.  I'm just following the current TfNSW rail doctrine.  After all, the NWRL Metro proves "customers" are more than happy to stand on trains on a route so long it was previously thought unthinkable.

TfNSW will have no problem re-specifying this as a metro project.  Initially just Waterfall to Thirroul as a stand alone Metro, including a new stop at the housing development at Maddens Planes requiring support for a 15% gradient those hopeless old DDs can't do.

In Stage 2 Waterfall to Sutherland will be re-built as metro, with 2 new stations at both Yarrawarra and the Hanrob Dog Training Academy.  This won't be able to proceed until:
  • Maldon-Dombarton is completed to get freight trains off the corridor (or at very least, all that freight traffic converted to more efficient road transport)
  • Neighbouring sections of the Royal National Park are "re-zoned" to allow redevelopment of appropriate density for a metro corridor.

Stage 3 will add Sydenham-Hurstville to the Metro System as previously planned/proposed.

Stage 4 will "complete the missing link" and connect the Sutherland-Thirroul metro to the Hurstville-Rouse Hill metro, allowing passengers to stand all the way from Wollongong to Rouse Hill and only change trains once.  The short dwell times will mean the train will be just as fast as the current service, yet still make more than 60 intermediate stops!

The rails will be removed from the "Como Bridge Eyesore" (put in a new 10km tunnel), to allow it to be widened into a 4 lane tollway to deal with the "unprecedented increase in demand" for road space.

Of course the Cronulla line will be a self contained branch and the whingers will just have to get used to changing trains, same as those whingers at Carlingford did.

But in any case, the line will be truncated to the new "Woolooware Golf Club Interchange" to connect with the Cronulla Beach Light rail project as a way of rejuvenating this "dilapidated area".  This project will include by relocating the Cronulla Surf Lifesaving Club to Doonside and "creating a new community" on that old wasted Cronulla station site by building six new Opal and Grenfell towers.

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