The Folly of High Speed Rail in NSW

 
  don_dunstan Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Adelaide proud
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has used a speech in Newcastle to dangle the prospect of fast rail to voters ahead of the upcoming federal election.
bevans
They've been promising something every three or four years since the turn of the century and nothing ever comes of it.

Rumour has it on Twitter that the federally-provided $500,000,000 is just to keep the RTBU happy when the new intercity fleet goes to driver-only operation (extended on-platform video surveillance equipment that the driver can monitor in-cab).

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has used a speech in Newcastle to dangle the prospect of fast rail to voters ahead of the upcoming federal election.
They've been promising something every three or four years since the turn of the century and nothing ever comes of it.

Rumour has it on Twitter that the federally-provided $500,000,000 is just to keep the RTBU happy when the new intercity fleet goes to driver-only operation (extended on-platform video surveillance equipment that the driver can monitor in-cab).
don_dunstan

That is interesting.  For those wanting more info https://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/labor-promises-500m-for-sydneynewcastle-fast-rail

Personally we need to get on with building Geelong to Melbourne and then perhaps Canberra to Sydney.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has used a speech in Newcastle to dangle the prospect of fast rail to voters ahead of the upcoming federal election.
They've been promising something every three or four years since the turn of the century and nothing ever comes of it.

Rumour has it on Twitter that the federally-provided $500,000,000 is just to keep the RTBU happy when the new intercity fleet goes to driver-only operation (extended on-platform video surveillance equipment that the driver can monitor in-cab).

That is interesting.  For those wanting more info https://www.railpage.com.au/news/s/labor-promises-500m-for-sydneynewcastle-fast-rail

Personally we need to get on with building Geelong to Melbourne and then perhaps Canberra to Sydney.
bevans

What will $500 million actually get you? The answer is not much since the 23km's of north west metro cost $7 billion and this high speed rail with a need for higher quality track for 100+km's of new track including tunnelling, bridging and cuttings. To top it off the freight will have to take the same route as it currently does and so there is no benefit to this much more important form of rail traffic.

As for the intercity fleet going driver only that isn't really possible with short platforms, unmanned stations, platform types and different platform heights and curves at each and every station on the network. If it is done then the NSW government is going to be paying out for more compensation claims and incidents increase at all stations.
  Totoro Junior Train Controller

Many of the user comments across the big news sites (across SMH, DT, 7News, etc), are not looking on this too favourably, it’s a totally predictable response though. I can understand why most people view this kind of project with such a high degree of cynicism after so many failed starts. $500M sounds like a lot, but consider that it’s less than 1/30th the probable cost for a HSR line between Melbourne and Brisbane. Albo could cancel negative gearing entirely and that still wouldn’t pay for HSR.. So how will the rest be funded? It’s just not possible through the public system. It requires private partnerships and we all know that cannot happen under a Labor government.

That $500M could be better spent on targeted upgrades to reduce congestion in the nearer term (e.g. Northern Sydney Freight corridor Stage 2, but that’s not “sexy” enough), or on employing some non-Unionised drivers to get the NIFs rolling so commuters can enjoy the new trains we already have (again, fat chance of that with a Labor government). In Western Sydney, they are begging for some financial commitment on the Parramatta Light Rail Stage 2 project; alternately in Newcastle they could commit to extending their own LR network. Those would probably be much better uses of $500M and would align nicely with their voter base.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

North Sydney freight corridor (NSFC) stage 2 is sorely needed and I agree with that being funded although $500 million will not be enough to do all of stage 2. NSFC stage 1 cost $940 million minus the part the ARTC built for the hexham loop. Considering that Stage 2 is tripling and quadrupling some areas on the main north line you can begin to see how impotent this $500 million announcement by Albanese is.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat Line
We should all send emails to Mr Albanese explaining the better solution for rail freight in this country.
simstrain

You want passengers to travel in freight cars Question

BYO folding chair and ear plugs perhaps... Smile

Mike.
  don_dunstan Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Adelaide proud
As for the intercity fleet going driver only that isn't really possible with short platforms, unmanned stations, platform types and different platform heights and curves at each and every station on the network. If it is done then the NSW government is going to be paying out for more compensation claims and incidents increase at all stations.
simstrain
So NSW can't possibly do something that the Kennett government accomplished 25 years ago in Victoria?
  viaprojects Assistant Commissioner

As for the intercity fleet going driver only that isn't really possible with short platforms, unmanned stations, platform types and different platform heights and curves at each and every station on the network. If it is done then the NSW government is going to be paying out for more compensation claims and incidents increase at all stations.
So NSW can't possibly do something that the Kennett government accomplished 25 years ago in Victoria?
don_dunstan
public transport privatisation .. bad solution for any state ..
  Fatty Deputy Commissioner

Location: Narrabri
As for the intercity fleet going driver only that isn't really possible with short platforms, unmanned stations, platform types and different platform heights and curves at each and every station on the network. If it is done then the NSW government is going to be paying out for more compensation claims and incidents increase at all stations.
So NSW can't possibly do something that the Kennett government accomplished 25 years ago in Victoria?
don_dunstan
Victorian intercity trains are driver only but they still have conductors. Is it the same in NSW?
  ALCo4301 Beginner

Why couldn’t the politicians announce something that is believable.
Like improving the maximum train speed between Sydney & Newcastle up to at least 160km/hr for 90% of the trip for commuter trains
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
North Sydney freight corridor (NSFC) stage 2 is sorely needed and I agree with that being funded although $500 million will not be enough to do all of stage 2. NSFC stage 1 cost $940 million minus the part the ARTC built for the hexham loop. Considering that Stage 2 is tripling and quadrupling some areas on the main north line you can begin to see how impotent this $500 million announcement by Albanese is.
simstrain
Yes, you're right. The NSFC program is jointly funded by the Federal and State Governments and funding has been allocated for preparation of a business case for stage 2, which will be assessed by Infrastructure Australia.  Earlier indications had been that it would be needed in the second half of this decade.  It will complete full quadruplication of the Northern Line from Strathfield to Epping and triplication from Epping to Hornsby which will benefit both passenger and freight traffic.  This is the sort of project which will have more meaningful immediate benefits than some wishy washy promise of High Speed Rail, which with the best will in the world, will still be some decades away, if ever.

I'm extremely disappointed with Albanese's disingenuous announcement as he seems to imply that the Newcastle and Hunter Region can expect a 45 minute journey to Sydney in the not too distant future, which he knows isn't possible.  It's all smoke and mirrors.  All he is committed to is laying down a holding deposit for some future benefit which probably won't be realised until he is long gone from Parliament.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Why couldn’t the politicians announce something that is believable.
Like improving the maximum train speed between Sydney & Newcastle up to at least 160km/hr for 90% of the trip for commuter trains
ALCo4301
I agree.  This would be more in tune with the NSW Government's Fast Rail Program in upgrading existing rail links with major regional centres, although they seem to have gone quiet on this since receiving Professor McNaughton's review, which hasn't been publicly released.
  Transtopic Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Can any of our Victorian posters offer comment on how successful the switch to Driver Only Operation has been and whether any pitfalls have become apparent?  

In NSW, the ongoing dispute with the RTBU over the manning of the new Mariyung Intercity fleet is not so much about eliminating guards, although that will be the inevitable outcome, but about the reliance on video monitoring at stations rather than being able to physically observe the platforms.  I'd like to know whether this is a valid complaint, based on experience elsewhere.  

The Waratah rolling stock is also designed to allow for conversion to Driver Only Operation as well as ATO.
  hbedriver Deputy Commissioner

I was on the suburban trains when they went driver-only. Various combinations of mirrors and platform mounted CCTV used for viewing on curves; on straight tracks train’s own side mirrors used. Doors had to be electrically proven closed before traction power available. There have been two passenger deaths that I recall since, both “contributed to their own demise”; let’s not forget several also died over the years with guards.

Suburban trains have operated so much better since. Many drivers acknowledged they would have gone driver-only without their pay rises. Much better job for us than being dependent on a cranky guard’s whims.

Regional trains run without guards; the conductors have no safeworking role, being there only to move through train, check/sell tickets, announcements, assist passengers, etc. Again, wouldn’t want to go back to putting up with guards who rarely ventured from their vans to assist drivers or passengers.

Perplexing that NSW still puts up with carrying non-paying passengers
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Albo has already lost the plot.

What is a required is an authority to be established and properly funded in stages to Canberra and then Melbourne. This can happen in parallel to Melbourne Geelong a different system.   Just small useless promises without tackling the project head on.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Why couldn’t the politicians announce something that is believable.
Like improving the maximum train speed between Sydney & Newcastle up to at least 160km/hr for 90% of the trip for commuter trains
ALCo4301
The only section of the line that could do 160Kmh would be the section between Ourimbah & short of Tuggerah, the elephant in the room there is the Constance showcase emu depot.

The cost however to make 90% (at least) of the line capable of doing 160Kmh would cost not far off what Albo is proposing.  In earlier posts regarding this, I have suggested that there would be room to at least/best straighten much of the line in some sections beyond Ourimbah but the cost to even consider trying to do any such work would hardly make a lot of difference, and the cost would get close to what Albo is saying.

Outside of the former (late) Nationals leader Tim Fisher, Albo has been the most pro active in the push for improved rail services not just in NSW but across the country.

One of the biggest issues in getting such a line built would be the amount of old underground abandoned mines, the old Pacific Highway near Catherine Hill Bay, have made for a lot of instability of the road surface. The Weston side of Lake Macquarie also has many mines that have closed and all were underground, a hazard to avoid in trying to straighten the line North of Morriset.

While the spread in population along the line especially North Morriset, and along Lake Macquarie continues unabated even in considering the improvements towards straightening the line, much of the needed corridors are slowly being consumed by the expansion in housing estates.
  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
Is it already too late or could it be an elevated track like Japan ?
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

So NSW can't possibly do something that the Kennett government accomplished 25 years ago in Victoria?
don_dunstan

No. Until all platforms are accesible without the need for assistance from station staff or a guard then moving to driver only operation is not something that should even be considered. Unless the NSW Government upgrades every single platform in the Sydney and intercity network then DOO should be off the table.
  hbedriver Deputy Commissioner

Why do you need platforms to be accessible for DOO? Drivers in Melbourne leave their cabs to load special needs passengers, mostly appreciate the short break and speaking with another human being. Of all the DOO changes, this was the easiest to implement, appreciated both by staff and passengers, who at least then knew where to wait.

Once trains got continuous brakes, reliable rail vehicle detection, and lost local parcels traffic, the need for guards disappeared. Respectively 150, 90 and 30 years ago.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Because drivers shouldn't leave there cabs for any reason other then the end of the shift or if the train is broken down. Drivers sole focus should be on driving the train.
  ExtremeCommuter Locomotive Fireman

There's definitely an election coming up.

Anthony Albanese is speaking in Newcastle today (Sunday) where he'll promote the pie in the sky HSR idea between NTL and SYD.

The story is in The Australian this morning, behind a paywall, but says:

In a draft of the speech to be delivered in Newcastle, Mr Albanese said that a downpayment of $500 million would be made by Labor in its first budget to acquire the corridor. He said a new High-Speed Rail Authority would make the Sydney to Newcastle line its key priority.

“If I’m elected prime minister, I want ours to be the first government that actually gets work underway on high-speed rail,” he said. “My vision is for high-speed rail that runs from Brisbane to Melbourne"

“Faster rail would see travel times from Newcastle to Sydney cut to just two hours. And once high-speed rail is up and running, this journey would take only 45 minutes. You’ll be able to jump on the train at 6:30pm and be at Sydney Olympic Park for the start of the [NRL] Knights game,” he said.

The east coast HSR concept has been kicked around since I was a boy. It's never gone anywhere beyond being a gravy train for the consulting industry and bureaucrats who prepare the reports/studies/papers/reviews.

Unfortunately, HSR is cost-prohibitive and getting more so every year. A more cost-effective solution might be to sort the issues in the existing line - the bottlenecks on the suburban section, the all over the shop curves between Cowan and Gosford, etc. I have no idea how best to do this but the existing speedy Geelong - Melbourne line might be a more realistic model/option than HSR.

In the meantime, politicians like Albanese insult the intelligence of us all by flogging this dead horse at every election and expecting punters to buy it and them seriously.
Travelling Hooker
lol, HSR for the NRL Knights Game!

45 minutes from Central to Newcastle sounds great and all, but heading the other direction when it takes an 1.5 hours (must sound like a broken record now) to get from the station to anywhere else in Newcastle, at that point I might as well drive - and I love taking the train and hate driving (hence why I am a member on a rail forum).
Anything near the rail corridor in Newcastle either guarantees no station or no pedestrian access, and apparently they justify extending the Newcastle Light Rail due to low public transport use in the area, but you can't use what's not there, by the same logic, let's not put a lift at Como Station because there is a low number of wheelchair uses using the station currently.

And what about when the NRL Knights Game as at the home stadium in Newcastle? I might get off a train at Broadmeadow (not far from the stadium), and might be hungry after the train trip, and see the nearest food option to the station is a KFC, I can almost taste that fried chicken on my tongue when - only to find out that the KFC is drive-thru only - yes that's right, only in the second largest city in NSW did they put a popular food chain right next to one of the busiest railway stations in the region and then make it so train passengers are not allowed to use it.

And we are now talking about HSR....... seriously you can't make this stuff up


As I said to a mate on FB who posted the story - that $500M wouldn't even cover the cost of the Cowan Bank deviation yet alone the rest of it. The money would be better spent on the freight deviation from Fassifern to Hexham. At least that'll get rid of most of the freighters from the level crossings in town.
KRviator
Sounds like a good idea in theory, and it would be a good idea if Newcastle wasn't the city of cutbacks, run a railway line around the metropolitan area and when the only thing running on the section of track between Fassifern and Newcastle Intg, I guarantee you we will probably be looking at NSW's next rail trail - probably when the Hunter Railcars become life expired in a few decades.

I'm happy to stand corrected on this one, but when the state government's over the years cut local public transport in the area, and the federal government cut medicare in the area, it's hard not to believe that a railway line that literally bypasses a city which has had nothing but cutbacks, it's hard to see it as a potential disaster.

That's another reason I think the entire HSR thing is hogpotch, a HSR line can't make up for all these cutbacks and solve the NSW problem of lack of choice where one can live.


Why wouldn't you do it? It amazes me that people in Australia don't think we deserve a European style rail system. You could do high speed rail that did Brisbane to Sydney in 4 hours I reckon. Depends how much money they're willing to spend to put in infrastructure that should have been started 30 years ago.
Fatty
It amazes me that people think that Australia and NSW don't think we deserve a European style of urban planning that gives us choice where we can live - that is the missing middle that also makes Australia not suitable for HSR, none of the HSR lines in Europe travel for 730km from capital to capital with very little in between.


For a 4 hour service between Sydney and Brisbane to be justifiable, Newcastle would need to have it's resources restored and made into a liveable city, likewise Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour would need to be invested in and have their population grown to that of Wollongong, then we could justify a HSR line stopping Central-Newcastle-Port Macquarie-Coffs Harbour-Byron Bay-Gold Coast-Brisbane.

But if we keep on using the 'cram everyone into Sydney and take resources from other places' model, then Australia will NEVER deserve a European style rail system.

I mean, who would use it? take the line between Newcastle and Sydney being discussed for example, it won't help young Newcastle residents work in Sydney, it would only help already-established Sydney residents move to Newcastle,
and on the other end, me living in Sydney would probably ride the HSR to Newcastle and back for fun because I like trains and have never travelled HSR before, and then drive straight back to Newcastle to do whatever I need to do there because driving would still be faster than the HSR trip + 1.5 hours on local transport to be final destination in Newcastle's suburbs.
Cities linked by HSR usually always have good local public transport, Newcastle has some of the worst public transport in the developed world.
  viaprojects Assistant Commissioner


Australia will NEVER deserve a European style rail system.

ExtremeCommuter


lol just need a small section of HSR to meet the standard .. or just the train for testing ..
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat Line
"Faster rail" in just under 2 hours.

Current record holder 3801 will do the trick...


https://youtu.be/VdLh1P8tky8
Carnot

As much as I like this video, yes, definitely the old 3801 is going to cover Central to Newcastle in under 2 hours as it has been sped up around 50% faster than real time.

Mike.
  Valvegear Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Richmond Vic
I hope I'll still be able to go to Gosford via Hawkesbury River and Wondabyne; one of the most scenic routes one could ask for.
  Lockspike Chief Commissioner

I hope I'll still be able to go to Gosford via Hawkesbury River and Wondabyne; one of the most scenic routes one could ask for.
Valvegear
As a there is little scope to increase the speed of the current route, a new 'faster' alignment will be required which would likely serve fewer stations; I'm sure the 'Classic' route would remain in use by local services.

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