Thursday, 13 March 2014

Wrong side of the tracks

Alignment diagram Moore Park
Moore Park stop

In September 2000 Sydney hosted the largest event in the world, the Summer Olympics. Fortunately NSW had a competent state government and they were hailed as the best ever. The bus stops built for this event functioned impeccably and still operate during events at the SCG and the adjacent football stadium. Barry O'Farrell claims to be a member of the Sydney Swans AFL Club but I have never seen him at a game, and I have been going to games since they moved from South Melbourne.

I have been to enough sporting events to realise that some spectators emerge from games somewhat the worse for wear. The bus stops adjacent to Drivers Avenue, which is closed to traffic during events, transport them safely to where they wish to go - those heading for Central or Wynyard Stations do not have to cross traffic at either end.

The indicative section of the tram stop in the EIS by Parsons Brinckerhoff shows a shoulder-high pedestrian barrier preventing tram passengers to events at the SCG, the Sydney Football Stadium and the Entertainment Centre from disembarking to the east and walking straight to their venue. Instead they are forced onto the island platform and have to ascend by "lift/platform access" to a massive 100 metre long concrete slab running parallel to Anzac Parade, supported on stilts. How they get down from this "concourse", with a "canopy" with extraordinarily high clearance, has been cropped.

The plan shows a tram visible through the canopy: there is no indication how people can get from the western side of the concourse to the eastern side. The section evidently faces to the south and shows a glass balustrade which would prevent people from accessing the down ramp to the north of the platform. Plans submitted to councils or to builders have to show the lines where sections are taken, but the rules of draughting evidently do not apply to Parsons Brinckerhoff or TfNSW - their incompetence and contempt for the public and the Assessors is almost beyond belief.

The pedestrian barriers would continue from the tunnel mouth to Cleveland Street as they are needed to stop passengers crossing the tracks to reach the island platform. Coupled juggernauts have to travel past the platform to reach the third rail to the south of the platform in order to turn around and travel "back and forward" through Surry Hills. The one exception is a extremely narrow pedestrian crossing between the "new pedestrian path" and the old pedestrian/cycleway on the eastern side of Anzac Parade just to the south of the platforms. Passengers would be cleaned up here by juggernauts coming and going, but most would find it preferable to using the lifts, especially when an event beginning at the SCG coincides with the end of an event at the Football Stadium or Entertainment Quarter.
Gap in pedestrian barrier from early post
I took this photograph of a panel removed from the pedestrian barrier in the middle of Anzac Parade by public-spirited students at Sydney High School so those heading south could access the bus stop in Anzac Parade. Students and staff heading north or to Central Station never had to cross Anzac Parade. The EIS stated that Public Bus services to Central would be eliminated to force students onto privately-operated cattle cars. Not only would they have to cross Anzac Parade they would have to cross the exclusive bus road and the tram lines to reach the island platform.

Ludicrously, the bus services along Cleveland Street to the Chalmers Street entrance to Central Station would increase in frequency when Parramatta Road bus services were to be terminated at Coogee Beach. Like, the students and staff would be stupid enough to trek north to catch the cattle cars. TfNSW have said bus stops would be "rationalised" along this route but bus stops can easily be restored by a competent state government.
Relocated Moore Park stop
The penny has finally dropped. Parsons Brinckerhoff and TfNSW have released a further three volumes titled "Submissions Report incorporating Preferred Infrastructure Report". It can be downloaded from the Major Projects website
Section diagram of revised stop

The stop has been moved to the south but nothing else has changed. The plan diagram is not as cropped and the very narrow access ramp is shown to zig zag back and forth to the northern end of the platform. The plan now is to force pedestrians to use a pedestrian bridge over Anzac Parade rather than the existing signalised crossing. There is still no details of the lifts that would be required to get people down to the platforms.

The design is even more visually confronting and disruptive to Moore Park. The suspended slab will be the length of an Olympic swimming pool. Picture the concrete-cancer riddled slab on top of the Phillip + Cook pool in front of the Roman Catholic Cathedral suspended on stilts.

Both the designs of the stop beg the question: why cannot the rail stay in the trench instead of rising abruptly as soon as it is under the bus roadway? There could then be separate platforms for crowds arriving and the crowds leaving the venues. This was incorporated in the design of the internationally-acclaimed station at the Olympic Stadium. NSW is so fortunate to have had a competent state government in the lead up to the Olympics. There would be no grotesque structures hovering over Moore Park and the rails could pass under Lang Road for little extra expense.

O'Farrell's only concern is to maximise the profits of the private operators of the cattle cars. Passengers are not to be given any choice. Unfortunately for any PPP silly enough to go ahead with the project, the bus loop will remain in place and buses will be competing for passengers. Buses will have delivered passengers to Central along the bus lanes in Foveaux Street before tram passengers have made it up the ramps and down the lifts and rickety stairs to the platforms.

1 comment:

  1. Yes putting the station as you say in a trench does make sense. What would make even more sense to continue the trench that little bit further and grade separate the stupid tram under Lang Road. This intersection is already a problem and throwing trams into the mix of cars, cyclists and pedestrians is going to make it even worse. The more I see about this project the more hair-brained it appears.