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Most commuters travelling from stations west of Bankstown will be able to use direct services to get to Sydney's CBD and avoid having to switch trains if a "preferred option" for a shake up of the rail network to accommodate a new metro rail line is adopted.
The conversion of a 13.5-kilometre stretch of rail line through Sydney's south-west from Sydenham to Bankstown to allow it to carry single-deck metro trains by 2024 means major changes are in store for the existing suburban railway west of Bankstown.
The NSW transport agency's preferred option is for trains on the existing T3 Bankstown Line to run from Liverpool via Regents Park to get to the CBD. At present, the Bankstown Line operates as two branches with trains running from Liverpool and Lidcombe to the CBD via Bankstown.
The proposed changes to the existing railway west of Bankstown will be 'complex' to introduce. CREDIT:SIMON ALEKNA
While describing it as the best of three options canvassed, transport experts say it will put more pressure on a "rail bottleneck" between Lidcombe and Homebush, which is nearing capacity in terms of the number of trains it can handle during peak periods.
"The preferred option is the best option for customers because it allows for faster trips to the city and connects the west with the inner west," said Mathew Hounsell, a transport expert at the University of Technology's Institute for Sustainable Futures.
But Mr Hounsell said the complexity involved in funnelling more trains through the western rail corridor between Lidcombe and Homebush risks a reduction in the reliability of services.
"It could lead to a less reliable network if investment is not undertaken," he said.
"It is essential that the government builds the missing two tracks between Lidcombe and Homebush to keep our western rail network reliable. It has to be fixed and it has to be fixed soon."
The 'preferred option' is for trains to run between Liverpool and the CBD via Regents Park. CREDIT:TRANSPORT FOR NSW
Another option considered by Transport for NSW as part of the rejig of the network is to run "shuttle trains" between both Bankstown and Lidcombe, and Bankstown and Liverpool.
However, it would force more commuters to switch trains to get to the CBD, and lead to more crowding on the T2 Inner West and Leppington Line.
The third option is to run trains from Bankstown to the CBD via the inner west, as well as shuttle services between Liverpool and Bankstown, resulting in Birrong station becoming the main interchange point for commuters.
Colin Schroeder, from public transport advocacy group EcoTransit, said the agency's preferred option was the best of the three as it restored what was known as the inner west line.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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