Minister's answer undercut by cabinet documents on Sydney-Wollongong rail tunnel

 
Topic moved from News by bevans on 28 Jun 2017 13:46
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
The plan is to replace
- 38km or twisty track with a series of tunnels including a single track section with 20km of I assume dual tunnel.
- 7 stations would also be condensed to 1 maybe 2.


Cost is around $2 - 3B?

Obviously the time saving for the passengers is huge and there is also significant operating cost savings to both Sydney Trains and the freight operators. Currently Thirrol to Waterfall on an all stopper is ~40min, at an average of 80km/h in the tunnel this would be reduced to 15min (save 25min) with a stop at Helensbourogh and reduce complexity in the train timetable as no all stoppers and expresses are needed nth of Thirrol. Overall the current express services would be reduced to roughly 1hr, roughly as other suburban services in Greater Sydney and similar to Brisbane and Melbourne. 25min saving each way is 50min return is roughly 1-2 train sets eliminated from the current roster, plus less wheel wear and tear.

Sim's said its a Wollongong project, not a Sydney project. Incorrect. Sydney is going through a housing affordability crisis that is not projected to ease for nearly a generation, if ever!!! Greater Wollongong still has affordable housing with prices for moderate homes still around $0.5-0.6M (for a house), compare this with the Central Coast for similar as the crow flys distance and you can see there is obviously an access issue. Meanwhile in greater urban Sydney the govt is spending billions improving access via rail in some cases for suburbs that currently have good bus services. Potentially improving both road and rail will make the move to the south coast viable for up to 250,000 people over next 30 years. Think of all the stamp duty?

So the argument is, on a cost per commuter head basis is this better value for money than other projects in Sydney? Note the potential increased commercial pay back from freight. Yes other work is required nth of Sutherland, but this can be done in steps as extra services are required.

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  Gaz170 Junior Train Controller

Location: Gold Coast
The point is the line waa built for steam trains, we'll the original alignment waa down graded to steam. Steam finished 50 years ago when are we at least going back to the orginal alignment if not an improved one? Yes Sydney is hilly, but it has a much larger population to pay for it.
RTT_Rules
When the line was electrified in the 1980's, serious consideration was given to going back to the original straighter, but steeper alignment.
In the end, problems with being able to double track most of the original alignment put paid to this idea.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Sim's said its a Wollongong project, not a Sydney project. Incorrect.
RTT_Rules
Wollongong is inextribably part of the Sydney conurbation and its economy and a major multifunctional city in its own right with a major industrial, port, education and tourism-based economy. There is commuting in both directions (remember University of Wollongong for example). There are nearly 400,000 people living in Greater Wollongong and Shoalhaven compared to about 330,000 on the Central Coast (Newcastle is not so closely related to the Sydney economy), about 80,000 in the Blue Mountains and about 44,000 in the southern highlands, all of the latter three being mainly dormitory areas of Sydney with mostly one-way commuting.

Like Wollongong city, Gosford, Springwood and Picton are all 80 km from Sydney. The fastest trains to and from Wollongong take about 1hr 27min. The fastest trains to and from Gosford take about 1hr 20min. The fastest trains to and from Springwood take about 1hr 16min. The fastest trains from Picton take about 1hr 05min. These times are also proportionately reflected in the commute to the outer edges of the regions - Bomaderry has the slowest commute, Bundanoon the fastest. It seems that the more a region needs a fast commute, the less it gets it.

There is also a lot of latent demand for commuting between Nowra (and intermediate towns) and Wollongong which is at present mainly driving on the road. As I said in an earlier post, there is plenty of potential for slashing over 20 minutes off the journey time on this basically straight section of railway to bring it into competitiveness with the car journey time. After all, it's difficult and/or costly to park in either central Wollongong or the university. There's patronage being offered to the railway on a plate there - but no, the railways prefer to saunter along like Brown's cows, deterring patronage as much as they possibly can. Same situation between Wollongong and Sydney.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
In those outer areas you won't beat the humble motor car because it aims to go as quickly and directly from A to B as possible .
No train can hope to do this when it stops at intermediate stations . The line can be billiard table flat and arrow straight and they don't go fast at a stand .
Also realistically stations like "Nowra" are in the middle of nowhere .
Housing affordability , what makes you think cheaper areas won't get pricier if access to Sydney gets faster and easier ? They are cheaper for a reason .
I also think its an absolute mistake to think that every motorist on the Princes wants or needs to catch a train to Illawarra station locations . Wonder how many turn off to Picton or Cambo or Heathcote Rd, or even at Sutherland and over Wonny bridge . Many probably want to get to areas not easily accessed by train .
Wonder how many drive to Waterfall station and get the fish tank from there .
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
The exact reason many drive to Waterfall is because the train further south is so darn slow. As for a train not beating a car because the train has to stop, I've driven non-stop from Perth Station to Mandurah station, mostly at 100 km/h on freeway, and it took 55 minutes (the same time given by Google). The train takes 51 minutes with 10 intermediate stops. I believe the drive blows out by half hour or much more in peak times.

It's up to the planners to study people's journey patterns, but there is no question that there is a solid major core demand along the Nowra-Wollongong-Sydney corridor to destinations where parking is a problem, like Sydney CBD, Wollongong CBD, UOW. They would prefer the train if they could.

I'm so far not getting an answer here as to why the train between Thirroul and Bomaderry (80 km) averages about 60 km/h with 13 intermediate stops (subtracting the wait at Kiama), while a train over the same distance between Stirling and Mandurah (Perth), also with 13 intermediate stops, averages about 80 km/h, when the trains on both lines have the same maximum speed (more in the case of the Endeavour). The Perth line has a lengthy slower bit between Leederville and Canning Bridge before they can really let it rip, while the south coast line over this section is pretty straight with the main minor alignment slowdowns being around Bulli, either side of Bombo and through two of the Omega tunnels - so there is no particular impediment to high speed due to track profile. That's a whopping difference between WA and NSW performance in a similar physical environment. I want to know why is it so. I suspect the reasons are not physical or mechanical but institutional(?)
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Leederville is on the Joondalup line and not the Mandurah line and none of the bends that you mention tonyp are anywhere at all like what happens between Waterfall and Thirroul. Nowhere along either of those lines does the track rise to 200 metres above sea level or loop back on itself 6 times. It follows freeways along it's length and averages that time because it can hit 130km/h between stations and maintain it for quite a bit. The section between leederville and canning bridge is right in the centre of the CBD and the section to canning bridge runs right down the middle of the freeway. How is that comparable to the section beyond waterfall?

Even with all of that climbing and turning the train from Thirroul is only 10 minutes slower then the car and in peak hour it is most likely a lot quicker.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Consider that one train system is more recent and built with better alignments while the other is a remnant from the 19th century.

Sterling to Mandurah is straight and forms an I along it's length.

Thirroul to Bomaderry looks like an S along it's length.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Leederville is on the Joondalup line and not the Mandurah line and none of the bends that you mention tonyp are anywhere at all like what happens between Waterfall and Thirroul. Nowhere along either of those lines does the track rise to 200 metres above sea level or loop back on itself 6 times. It follows freeways along it's length and averages that time because it can hit 130km/h between stations and maintain it for quite a bit. The section between leederville and canning bridge is right in the centre of the CBD and the section to canning bridge runs right down the middle of the freeway. How is that comparable to the section beyond waterfall?

Even with all of that climbing and turning the train from Thirroul is only 10 minutes slower then the car and in peak hour it is most likely a lot quicker.
simstrain
Trains on the Joondalup and Mandurah lines run through - operationally it's the same line. The reason I've gone north to Stirling is to grab an equivalent segment of 80 km with 13 intermediate stops.

What does Waterfall to Thirroul have to do with the question I'm asking? I'm talking about Thirroul to Bomaderry, a section that has completely different geography and track profile, a coastal plain like the Perth coastal plain. You're doing exactly what I said distorts the discussion - arguing that Waterfall-Thirroul is bad therefore the whole south coast line is bad. Your proposition is not supported by the real-life track profiles of both lines in both states.

I'm still waiting for an answer. What I've done is put forward a proposition that I want people to test and challenge on technical grounds. I'm inviting you to prove me wrong, but with informed engineering and operational arguments, not wild assertions. Until somebody properly proves the proposition wrong then I have to assume it's correct and that I'm free to go in to politically bat for such an order of improvement to the service south of Thirroul. And maybe also north of Waterfall - after all, what's slowing things down there as well?

And no, the train is not little slower than driving. Driving is much much faster, but it needn't be if the railways put some effort into their operation.

Edit: incidentally, the drivers' knowledge diagrams indicate that there are sections of the south coast line with speed boards up to 115-140 km/h (XPT presumably but why not other trains?) but inexplicably there are straight sections that are limited to e.g. 100. The whole line seems to be excessively micromanaged in terms of speed limits.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I'm not saying the south coast line is bad. Just that when comparing to the mandurah line in WA it is not an apples for apples comparison. The WA line is straight and runs in the middle of modern straight motorways for a lot of it's length and the line south of Thirroul curves around a lake and through narrow cliffs and tunnels south of oak flats on a 150 year old alignment.

There is also a significant amount of single track south of Albion park which means waiting for right of way. The mandurah line is double track along it's whole length. There are also many level crossings which the mandurah line doesn't have and these need to be approached with caution in NSW. Freight also runs on the south coast lines which isn't the case with the mandurah line. So most of the 25 minute gap between the car and train is down to alignment, single track, freight trains, level crossings and the stops.

As for proving anything. I don't feel I or anybody else need to prove why it is. How about you prove why it could actually run as fast as you say it should. Don't be comparing Mandurah either because that is nothing at all like the south coast line.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
The WA line is straight and runs in the middle of modern straight motorways for a lot of it's length and the line south of Thirroul curves around a lake and through narrow cliffs and tunnels south of oak flats on a 150 year old alignment.
simstrain
You keep saying this, obviously without reference to diagrams in both cities (indeed even looking at maps will suffice), when it's not true. The Joondalup-Mandurah lines are generally curvy, but with high speed curves except through the city, and the south coast line (except Waterfall-Coledale) has some long straight or only gently curved runs. The only signifcant sections with any signifcant curvature below a 1,000 m radius necessary for speed running are around the Georges River crossing, Bulli, around Minnamaurra-Kiama and two of the Omega tunnels and a couple of turns near Toolijooa and Jaspers Brush. On top of this, one can also cite high-performance on any of Perth's legacy lines built in the 19th century. The only reason I haven't is that they're not long enough to give me an 80 km-long example. It's not generally the alignment (except Waterfall-Coledale) that's the problem on the south coast, it's the train operation. You can't even blame station spacings as they are typically similar on both lines.

Maybe here's a clue - a Perth train on a gently curved section of track between stations compared with a south coast train on a straight section of track:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hGgVC_rOi4



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZptAyPtbYE

NSW never had a culture of operating trains quickly, nor did WA, but that's no longer OK in the 21st century. Either the culture has to change (as it did in WA) or we give up and accept the motorways and buses or don't complain when governments start commissioning private metros that at least lift performance up to something approaching Perth standards.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

What are you trying to prove with that video at shell harbour. In case you didn't realise at the end of that video the train had double reds which means the train can not proceed and the signal beforehand would shown this to be the case. It goes more to prove my point about single track causing delays.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Finally, some explanations! I know it's a passing track but there seem to be no other trains in sight. However, both from riding this service and driving the motorway alongside it, my observation is that the trains always crawl along this section even when there's no other train within cooee - and they also crawl along the double track sections further north.

Just to address the criticism that I might be warping comparisons by using one of Perth's modern lines as an example, here are some examples on Perth's nineteenth century lines, which have a few turns and curves, compared with the best lines Sydney has to offer:

Midland-West Leederville: 18 km, 29 mins, 15 stops
Sydney-Bankstown: 18 km, 36 min, 13 stops

Perth-Kelmscott: 26 km, 32 min, 14 stops
Sydney-East Hills: 25 km, 39 min, 15 stops

Perth-Armadale: 30 km, 39 min, 17 stops
Westmead-Penrith (Sydney's "raceway"): 30 km, 38 min, 11 stops

The malaise is more than infrastructure (and not even that for a lot of lines), NSW railways seem to have an ingrained culture of going slow. I know the trains were slowed in the 2000s but they never went much faster before that, only a few minutes at most. All this money has been spent on infrastructure upgrading over the last 40 years and it shows no result in service improvement. Is anything ever going to change or is it always going to be stuck in this rut?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The train in the video you linked to is heading to Albion Park. Just beyond the red signals are the points where the line goes back to single track. The station at the other end of the double track in that video is Dunmore and the track goes back to single track just past there as well.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Comparing Sydney to Perth is moot because Sydney's system is designed for capacity. That is why we have those big double decker trains. Sydney's system moves 1 million people a day vs 175,000 for perth.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
Comparing Sydney to Perth is moot because Sydney's system is designed for capacity. That is why we have those big double decker trains. Sydney's system moves 1 million people a day vs 175,000 for perth.
simstrain
Comparing train performance is not moot at all, regardless of the size of the city. Performance is performance.

As for capacity, an equivalent-length single deck train like Perth's has greater capacity than a Sydney 8 car double decker but the double deckers have higher *seating* capacity - an advantage that's quickly undermined by any single deck system that's able to throughput more trains (thus more seats) per hour.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
The train in the video you linked to is heading to Albion Park. Just beyond the red signals are the points where the line goes back to single track. The station at the other end of the double track in that video is Dunmore and the track goes back to single track just past there as well.
simstrain
I know where the train is and what it's doing, I use it! Is that a reason it has to crawl into the station like a caterpillar? Too many excuses for NSW train performance and no explanations. Lucky for them they have a solid core fan base but that may be rapidly diminishing:

http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/4807767/train-was-standing-room-only-all-the-way-to-sydney/?cs=300
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

Thanks for linking WA video, excellent. Surely a lesson for others RE using median where possible. Couldn't help but notice the DH who did not keep left.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Comparing train performance is not moot at all, regardless of the size of the city. Performance is performance.

As for capacity, an equivalent-length single deck train like Perth's has greater capacity than a Sydney 8 car double decker but the double deckers have higher *seating* capacity - an advantage that's quickly undermined by any single deck system that's able to throughput more trains (thus more seats) per hour.
tonyp

Yes it is moot because you are comparing a new system in Perth which is segregated to a system that has significant amounts of interconnection. A SD system like the mandurah line can throughput more trains that Sydney (although it doesn't do so currently). Sydney's new metro will be capable of up to 36tph but that is due to it being a 100% segregated system and not purely because it is SD.

A Perth SD does not have a greater carrying capacity then a Sydney DD which can stand as many people as it seats. An 8 car waratah at 155m in length can handle about 1800 passengers and no SD is capable of that at a similar length. A perth SD with 6 cars has a length of 150m and a capacity of 1100 people.

For more proof of the system being the issue rather then the train look no further then Melbourne's pathetic system.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
To get an equivalent length you have to add one carriage onto a Perth train which gives you 1,400 passengers. About a decade ago Cityrail did loading tests on an 8 car train and found that they could fit 1,750 passengers only on the basis that nobody could get on and off during the journey, so that figure is good only for a special end to end journey like a sporting event. The realistic figure in normal service with passenger turnover is about 1,250, less than an equivalent-length single deck train. Double decks are only good for longer distance services like interurbans where you need a higher seating capacity.

The examples of Sydney lines I chose partly for the reason that they're segments that are not much buggered by interconnection issues.

To come back to topic, the question is what needs to be done to the south coast line to improve average speeds between Sydney and Waterfall and Thirroul and Nowra? Obviously track duplication between Unanderra and at least Bombo (avoiding having to tackle Kiama tunnel) would be good. Single track between Kiama and Nowra isn't an issue (subject to passing sidings for the Manildra trains) if you can return a single Endeavour set for an hourly service. What else is needed on the whole line south of Thirrroul?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

The waratah can handle more standing traffic due to cars 4 and 5 not being taken up by a drivers compartment. So with crush loading happening more and more often and dwell times expanding the 1750 is applicable when you consider that for western line and main south trains there is no room to get on trains during peak hour.

An additional carriage for a B set would make it about 11 metres longer then an 8 car waratah and a 7 car B set's capacity would still only be just under 1300 and not 1400 if you do your math properly.

Every train line in Sydney has interconnection issues aside from the ESR.

As for track quality the Illawarrra and south coast is probably the worst line on the Sydney electric (The tangara makes it feel worse then it is) but it is still miles better then Victoria's track quality (regardless of gauge). In that video I noticed a 60km/h sign and I am not sure why this is. I'm assuming that because it is in a swampy area that maybe the formation can't handle anything faster but that is only my guess. Fixing that would would probably require some significant engineering upgrades for the base to handle 115km/h or more. As a Captain obvious duplicating would make a difference as well to times as well.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
In that video I noticed a 60km/h sign and I am not sure why this is.
simstrain
That 60 is on the passing siding. The running line (which the train is on) is signed for 100.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Between Sydney and Waterfall all that needs to be done is probably a quad from Hurstville to Sutherland. The train is already faster then the car along this route and a quad would increase capacity post bankstown line metro conversion.

A new straight alignment between Waterfall and Thirroul to help reduce the longer south coast trip transit times. South of Dapto there really isn't much to do because of the small population.
  BDA Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
You'd be lucky to quad the first 3/4 of Como Bank , up towards Sutho yes but down towards Como best of British .

BTW I believe Perths HO gauge fish tanks are AC powered , would they be lighter for the power to weight and possibly have lighter axle loads ?

And ATP , do they use that too ?


Just thought I'd ask ...
  tazzer96 Deputy Commissioner

BTW I believe Perths HO gauge fish tanks are AC powered , would they be lighter for the power to weight and possibly have lighter axle loads ?

And ATP , do they use that too ?


Just thought I'd ask ...
BDA
Perth does have full ATP.  
But AC trains are generally heavier than their DC counterparts.   This is offset by AC motors having more useful output.
  tonyp Chief Commissioner

Location: Shoalhaven
South of Dapto there really isn't much to do because of the small population.
simstrain
There are the best part of 100,000 people living in or accessible to the rail catchment south of Dapto! And growing as the urbanisation pressures spread out from Sydney.

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