|Single deck rail system (schematic) SMH|
This article drew by far the greatest number of online comments for the day, so transport is an important subject for Sydney-siders. The schematic (left) is from the print edition. Despite getting access to huge volumes of emails, after being opposed on grounds of "commercial confidentiality", there very little information on the single deck train system. No information on where the stations will be located, no information on the path of the tunnels through the CBD. No one has any clue as to what the system would cost.
Politicians from the northern beaches have been pressing for a train tunnel from the northern beaches under Middle Harbour and Port Jackson to the CBD for aeons, but this has, of course, been assessed as ludicrously uncommercial. So they have come up with a new stratagem, to use stealth and systemic deception by the public service to impose the cost on public transport users in the west, and south of the Harbour. It is hardly surprising that professionally-qualified officers in TfNSW are running around like Chicken Little.
The argument for single-deck trains put forward by the O'Farrell government is that they will be able to climb at a steeper gradient, so the depth that passengers will have to descend to the stations will be less. The difference in the maximum gradients practicable with single or double deck trains is not significant - both around 7%. Technical Paper 10 in the EIS has this diagram of gradients in the CBD:
|Cross section of CBD - Hassell + Arup 2013|
We do know that there is no reason to feed trains from Chatswood into the Northern Beaches rail tunnel. The Minister for Transport has told parliament on many occasions that the Harbour Bridge rail lines have more than enough capacity to handle all the passengers from the privately-operated north-west railway, and she is right.
|Erskineville rail line|
|Eastern Suburbs Railway pops up|
Apparently the O'Farrell government intends to direct all the trains from the Northern Beaches railway into this Erskineville rail corridor. But there are problems. The single deck trains are not compatable with the Bradfield rail system - the station platforms are not at the same height for one. If the Northern Beaches railway took over two of the lines, the central platform at Erskineville station would be split-level.
And where would this leave the Eastern Suburbs Railway? The possibilities are equally bizarre:
- The Northern Beaches line continues in a tunnel to Wooli Creek Junction - like the Airport line that went into receivership.
- Another pair of rails cuts a swath through Erskineville - a la Surry Hills
- The Eastern Suburbs Railway is privatised and converted to single-deck trains and the money from selling this profitable rail line pays for the ludicrously non-commercial Northern Beaches railway.