Friday, 26 September 2014

The cost of converting tracks for foreign trains

Ms Berejiklian and sidekick pose behind French train model
Double-deck trains were developed by NSW rail engineers. In the 1970s a delegation from Communist China came out to inspect the trains and was shown the plans for the carriages. They went back to China and developed their own designs - they had purloined the intellectual property. The more recent contracts for rolling stock have imported the chassis from Japan and China along with other elements.

The North Shore Liberal Party rump has a policy of eliminating Australian manufacturing industries so Ms Berejiklian has signed a contract to import off-the-shelf single-deck carriages from the French conglomerate Alstrom. There is no information on what the government hopes to save by fully importing the rolling stock but the consequences for the NSW taxpayers and for the people of Western Sydney will be severe. The doors on the carriages do not line up with the doors on the rest of the rolling stock used by Sydney Rail. When a platform is converted to single deck trains it can no longer be used by the rest of the rail network. The privately-owned and largely foreign-owned consortium has a monopoly on the line for all time despite the taxpayer providing all or most of the funding for building the rail line.

The Epping to Chatswood line in particular was wholly funded by the taxpayer and was planned to take pressure off the Western and Inner Western rail lines with a relatively low-cost extension to Parramatta. Now the North Shore rump will be making this impossible and will be overloading Chatswood station and the Harbour Bridge rail line.

Baird has announced that if he wins the election on 28th March his government will sell off urban electricity distribution networks and use the taxpayer's assets to wholly fund a tunnel from St Leonards to the Bankstown rail line at Sydenham Junction and do to the Bankstown line what he is doing to the Macquarie University line. No doubt when the taxpayer has funded this unnecessary and ludicrously uneconomic project, at any cost, the foreign consortium has been assure the lines will be handed over to the monopoly.

At what cost?

I am a liberal lady from the North Shore

If you have to ask how much it costs you can't afford me.

The Scoping Study Sydney's Rail Future contained estimates of costings for various "scenarios". The costings are for the section from Chatswood to somewhere to the just to the east or just to the west of Redfern Station. The "Engineering and Construction" Study made no attempt to ascertain if indeed it was physically possible for a rail tunnel under Sydney Harbour and under the Cross City tunnel to connect with the Airport line (Rail Future A) or the Illawarra line (Rail Future B) - it isn't! The conclusions in the study are ludicrously spurious but the individual costings of the components establish benchmarks for comparison of feasible options.

The Study states: "Estimates are in line with Best Practice Cost Estimation Standard for Publically Funded Road and Rail Projects. Where there is uncertainty on the cost, a range is included covering the upper and lower Project Identification Estimates. All costs are quoted as June 2012."
Rail Futures p35
Rail Futures A and C are for a Harbour rail tunnel to the east of the Harbour Bridge with construction sites for the boring machines and the removal of spoil at First Fleet Park at Circular Quay and have a "nominally Pitt Street alignment". The study confirms that the tunnels will have to pass under the Cross City Tunnel at Pitt Street and stations in the CBD will be "(lift access only) however there is an opportunity to reduce the depth with the use of single deck rolling stock". This is a bald-faced lie. The depth of the station platforms under Pitt Street directly adjacent to Town Hall Station is determined by the depth needed for the station platform and the pedestrian concourse above the rail tunnels to pass under the east-bound road tunnel under Bathurst Street without collapsing the base of the tunnel. One of the main reasons given for rejecting the "Kent Street alignment", inexplicably assumed to also pass under the road tunnel, is that in order to make it up the hill to Wynyard the rail tunnel would have to pass too close to the base of the tunnel.
The Cross City Tunnel cross section
The entrance to the eastbound tunnel at Tumbalong Park, built on rubble dumped from the excavations for the rail loop, is barely a metre above current sea level and goes down hill fast. The gradient needed to get from even the deepest part of the Harbour to when it passes under Park Street does not give any advantage to lighter single deck trains.

There is no conceivable justification for foreign owned and operated single-deck trains to take over public rail systems south of the Harbour:

  • There is no earthly reason for Liverpool and Cabramatta commuters to travel through Granville to reach destinations in the inner west and the Strathfield/Epping line.
  • There is no earthly reason for Bankstown commuters to lose access to the inner west and Strathfield.
  • There is no earthly reason for forcing Bankstown commuters to transfer to Illawarra line trains to access the CBD City and Redfern.
Without any rational explanation for sending single deck trains under the Harbour one has to ask the question:
  • Is Baird receiving divine inspiration?
  • Or is he shrieking at everyone south of the Harbour: "Drink the Kool-Aid"?
Baird and Ms Berejiklian announcing the fate of Bankstown Station
with the Liberal member for East Hills who looks resigned to drinking the Kool-Aid
Ms Berejiklian said on the Bankstown platform 2: "The overall cost (of the project) is close to being finalised". This was a bald-faced lie. None of the studies obtained by the SMH that were done before Baird announced his thin blue line on a indeterminate map were for a tunnel to the west of the Harbour Bridge extending deeply-subterranean to Sydenham Junction.

North Shore politicians are evidently schooled in lying to the camera when no questions can be asked - Tony Abbott has not mastered the art of smiling as he does this. After the election Ms Berejiklian will declare the Project to be Critical State Significant Infrastructure preventing any proper disclosure and proceed with the project at any cost.

At any cost

The cost of building a rail tunnel from St Leonards station to just west of Redfern Station as of June 2012 was estimated to be $8.055 billion and the quadruplication of the line from Chatswood increased the estimate to $8.585 billion. This was for a rail tunnel to the east of the Harbour Bridge. The cost of extending the tunnels to Sydenham junction and building underground platforms at Sydenham Station has never been assessed. Neither has the cost of converting the stations and signalling of the Chatswood-Epping line and the Sydenham-Cabramatta line to take only foreign single-deck trains. The cost is not only the cost of construction but also the economic cost to businesses and individuals from closing down the lines while work is being undertaken. Assessments done on Three Tier Option B1 give some insight into these costs:
Rail Future B - the rebuild option
Transport Projects Division of TfNSW estimated the cost of converting two platforms at each of three CBD stations and North Sydney Station to run foreign single deck trains. The cost was estimated to be $1.3-1.8 billion. The economic cost to businesses in the CBD and the state was far higher: "For approximately 4 years there will be significant changes to the network operation in the CBD, including no City Circle services from Central to Wynyard for 3 - 4 years". Other public servants in TfNSW queried this (they chatter amongst themselves as fervently as in terror cells) but TPD was adamant: "3 - 4 years".

Once work begins on converting one station to take foreign trains the entire track becomes inoperable for the rest of the network. Fortunately in the CBD only four stations would have needed to be converted, minimising the impact. There are 21 stations that would have to be converted on the Bankstown line to Cabramatta. Ms Berejiklian refuses to make any disclosure of the cost of converting tube stations on the Macquarie University line to take foreign trains and refuses to disclose how long the line would be closed down. Reports in the SMH have suggested that the line would be closed down for 6 months at least and Ms Berejiklian has declined to comment on this.

The cost blowouts

Macquarie Park station under construction
The Epping-Chatswood rail link went through a lengthy gestation period with large scale public consultation and the final plan for a tunnel under the Lane Cove river was costed by "Best Practice Cost Estimation Standard for Publicly Funded Road and Rail Projects" at $1.4 billion. The cost blew out to $2.3 billion and this did not include matting to reduce the noise levels in the tunnels.

The original metro project running from Rozelle to Sydney University was costed at $2 billion but after the close of submissions for the EIS it was discovered that the cost had blown out to $7 billion.

A submission to the Inquiry into Rail Infrastructure Project costing in NSW by Dr John Goldberg (Formerly Hon Assoc. University of Sydney) in September 2011 can be viewed here

He provides a list of the consultants contracted for former projects. Parsons Brinkerhoff, who produced the most systemically deceptive diagrams for the light rail project, were the consultants for the Lane Cove Tunnel project. Overseas consultancy companies are not placed on a black list or suffer any penalties no matter how erroneous their projections turn out to be or how spectacular the losses born by investors.

Goldberg's conclusion was: "The compelling nature of the evidence presented here about the misfeasance of state bureaucrats strongly suggests that this problem can only be addressed by exposure in a Royal Commission with coercive powers.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Big Lie

O'Farrell at ICAC. Boy, you ought to see him now
The Nazis in Germany developed the theory of the Big Lie: If you keep repeating a falsehood often enough people will come to believe it, however preposterous it may be. The claim that single deck trains can carry more passengers per hour than double deck trains of the same length has been chanted relentlessly since the Iemma government started broadcasting computer-generated videos of driverless trains pulling into underground stations with glass partitions lining the platforms with doors that open when the train arrives, as at Olympic Park. Barry O'Farrell chanted the same dogma before his fall from grace.

Out of the Blue

Baird has said that if he is elected he will consider he has a mandate to sell the urban electricity distribution network. The "Rapid Transit plan" that he released as the justification for this move had no prior disclosure and differs from the now-published Rail Future C.
Rapid Transit plan1
Rail Future C had turnbacks for the single deck trains at Cabramatta and Lidcombe. Baird's plan is for all single deck trains to turnback at Bankstown - God knows how.

Clearly for single deck trains to deliver any alleged reduced dwell times at stations every platform from turnback to turnback must conform to the same standards. Driverless trains in the civilised world are tube systems running in tunnels with barriers holding passengers back for the length of the platforms. This is not possible in a nineteenth century train line running on the surface.

The Historic Bankstown Rail Line

Bankstown Station
The line from Sydenham to Belmore was built from 1880 to 1895 and was extended to Bankstown by 1909. With the completion of the City Circle trains looped through the Inner West line and the Bankstown line at Birrong. Ms Berejiklian put an end to this without revealing her evil intentions in 2013 when turn backs were established at Cabramatta and Lidcombe.
Inner West services degraded

There are 21 stations between Sydenham station and the turn backs so it is hardly surprising that the systemically-dishonest Premier of NSW should try to conceal the full extent of the plans of Transport for NSW. It is unprecedented however for a State Premier to be seen to be involved in such a transparent deceit.

The long haul

Regents Park Station
The dilemma created for Baird by Rod Staples is that the line through Regents Park to Lidcombe Station is a single pair of rails. If the line is converted to driverless single-deck trains along with the line from Birrong to Cabramatta then the only line from Liverpool and Cabramatta to the Inner West is through Granville - a long and tortuous journey. Commuters from Liverpool will be denied fast access to Lidcombe and Olympic Park and the Victoria Road bus services via the Strathfield-Epping rail line. They will also have to change to an Illawarra line train at Sydenham to access stations from Sydenham to Redfern and the City Circle. They will of course do this almost to the last man since if they stay on the single-deck trains they will be dumped deep beneath Central Station or somewhere beneath Pitt Street or maybe Castlereagh Street which does not provide connections to anywhere. The self-appointed Minister for Western Sydney has really stuffed up the people from south-western Sydney.

Seven miles from Sydney
One thousand miles from caring what happens to to anyone south of the Harbour

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The City Circle

City Circle
Museum Station under construction
Work begun on the underground stations at Museum and St James in 1916 but work was delayed by financial problems and the line did not open until 1926. The lines to Wynyard and the station under George Street at Town Hall were built as part of the Harbour Bridge crossing in the 1920s and opened in 1936. The rail loop was not completed until the Cahill Expressway was built in 1956. Before then trains terminated at Wynyard and St James and backed out. For 50 years from the completion of the Central Terminal in 1906 to the opening of the Cahill Expressway in 1956 the Castlereagh/Pitt Street tram loop performed its role of distributing passengers from the rail terminus to destinations in the CBD and to Circular Quay.

Soon after the rail loop had been completed the trams were being burnt and the tram rails torn up. The destruction of the tram networks was indiscriminate. No assessment of the worth of individual routes were made - every tram route was annihilated.

The City Circle train loop while providing an efficient means for turning suburban train lines around  has always been recognised as a poor substitute for distributing people throughout the CBD and for movements within the CBD. When the tram loop was removed it was the George Street bus services that took over the roles that it had performed. Now Baird will obliterate these services with a painfully slow tram line that replicates half of the Train loop with stops only at the train stations.

The Bradfield Scheme

Bradfield had submitted a report outlining his grand plans for an underground rail network in 1915. It was to have a rail line under Parramatta Road looping through the northern CBD and continuing east under Oxford Street, which is why there were extra platforms at Town Hall and St James Stations. The Northern Beaches line was to operate along the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge replicating the  rails on the western side - it never progressed beyond the tram terminal at Wynyard Station.

The Central Station flyovers

Flyovers south of Central Station
The bidirectional City Circle rail loop was always planned as part of the Harbour Bridge project even before the design of the Bridge was selected. The flyovers south of the platforms at Central that were necessary for the loop to operate efficiently were constructed with brick arches as part of the original project. A contributor to Wikipedia has produced a schematic of the flyovers:
Two extra flyovers were built for the Airport Line connecting to the uppermost level. They can be seen in the Google Earth snapshot disappearing into tunnel in the right hand corner. It is beyond belief that a happy little band of taxpayer-superannuated public servants producing an "Engineering and Construction" scoping study could be unaware that it would be physically impossible for a Harbour Rail Tunnel passing under the Eastern Suburbs rail tunnel to connect to the Airport Line. They were producing preposterous alternatives for Ms Berejiklian to take to Cabinet and must have been aware of what they were doing.

You can see from the Google Earth snapshot and the Wikipedia schematic that trains change destinations as they go round the loop. This would be because the flyovers were built when trains were backing out from Wynyard and St James stations. The train services using the City Circle are an integrated whole. An attempt to speed up train schedules caused systemic problems for trains being on schedule across the network, but it had to be tried. Scheduling suburban train services is an intricate process that has been refined over decades. Rod Staples quest to hand over established parts of the suburban rail network to a privately-owned monopoly was always going to come to grief.

Up to 28 trains per hour

To their credit the public servants at Transport Projects Division expressed scepticism at the Staples dogmas: that single-deck trains can run at frequencies increased from 20 to 28 trains per hour. These claims have been studied by the Facts Check team at the ABC and found to be nonsensical. The claim is that if passengers are forced to stand for the whole journey they somehow are able to alight more quickly at station platforms and the reduced dwell times allow "up to" 8 more trains per hour to operate on the line, so the line can carry more passengers.

"Rail Future B seeks to run single deck rolling stock at increased frequencies to current operations (up to 28 trains per hour) on existing upgraded infrastructure" (i.e. the Harbour Bridge rail line).

"The findings of the investigations to date indicate that Rail Future B has extremely high degree of risk, operational impact and costs for the following reasons:
  • The high risks relate to the operation of 28 trains per hour on existing infrastructure
  • To robustly deal with the increased train paths through the CBD, significant reconfiguration of the Central Flyovers is required."

The Epping-Strathfield-Central link

On the other hand the rail link from Epping to Central Terminal through Strathfield has never been developed. Trains from the Ryde rail bridge are fed into the northern-most main line to the intercity platforms and must make it across the two-way rails to all the other platforms at grade to reach the suburban and central coast terminating platforms. A Fly-under to the eastern platforms of Central Terminal and to underground platforms would greatly increase the capacity of this Rail Link, at comparatively little cost. The underground platforms would have turn around facilities under Belmore Park allowing trains to turn around much more efficiently.

Whichever platform they arrived at, a few steps across the historic Central concourse to a restored tram loop, which would stop as frequently as current buses, would deliver them to destinations in the CBD from Central to Martin Place faster than someone using a multi-billion dollar Metro would be able to access the lifts at Martin Place. The trams would also deliver them to destinations in the CBD north of Martin Place. Passengers alighting from a Metro at Martin Place will find it well nigh impossible to reach these destinations except by walking.
Ryde rail bridge
The capacity of the Epping/Strathfield Junction rail link has been increased with a freight line (not shown in the Google Earth snapshot) and it could readily be increased further - there is an abandoned rail bridge alongside the current bridge used as a shared pedestrian/bicycle path!
Meadowbank bridge shared path
NSW needs to hock its poles and wires to build additional Harbour rail-crossing capacity like a hole in the bedrock.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Rail Futures

Harbour tunnel with station connected to Circular Quay loop!
The confidential Cabinet document CBD Rail Capacity Program was subtitled Rail Futures Investigations - Engineering & Construction. It is only of interest for the insights it gives into the level of incompetence that prevails in Departments headed by Rod Staples and into the contempt Ms Berejiklian must have for the intelligence of her North Shore Cabinet colleagues.

The report was set up for Rail Future B, the rebadged CBD Relief Line, to fail and to promote Rail Future C, a Harbour rail tunnel feeding into the two western rail tracks of the Erskineville link. The diagrams for stages 1 and 2 showing the trademark claims of trains per hour during the AM peak on the tracks show an interconnection between a metro platform to the elevated City Circle platforms at Circular Quay. God only knows how this would be engineered or constructed.

The Kent Street alignment

CBD Relief Line
The CBD Relief Line is referred to in the text as the Kent Street alignment. The new platforms at Wynyard, Central and adjacent to Town Hall station are designed to take 10 carriage trains. This makes sense since the existing platforms at the Central terminal can take 10 carriage trains.

The overwhelming advantage of the Kent Street alignment over the Harbour tunnel options is that the rail tunnels do not have to pass under the Eastern Suburbs rail tunnel or indeed the Bradfield loop tunnels. The tunnel would run roughly parallel to the Eastern Suburbs rail tunnel under the shallow basements of the Capitol Theatre to the Kent Street alignment then it is plain sailing to Wynyard. The self-described scoping study does not acknowledge this. The Risk Factors listed in an appendix admit that with the Harbour tunnel there will be "deep stations within the CBD and North of the Harbour (lift access only), however, there is an opportunity to reduce the depth with the use of single deck rolling stock". Yeah, sure. The station between Wynyard and Central on the CBD relief line would presumably be between Bathurst and Liverpool Street to give the requested better access to World Square, but the report insists that it too would require lifts only. It would be physically impossible for the CBD Relief rail tunnel to pass over the top of the Bathurst Street Cross City Tunnel and be so deep as to require lifts only.

 Rail Future A is not developed in the report. Did someone point out it would be physically impossible for a rail tunnel to pass under the Eastern Suburbs rail tunnel at Pitt Street, feed into a platform deep under Central Station and make it up to the Airport Line tunnel entrance north of Cleveland Street, over the said tunnel? This leaves but two Rail Futures B and C. Both require a rail tunnel from Eveleigh, under Redfern Station to a platform under platforms of the Central Terminal. The difference between the options is the depth of the platforms under Central.

The rail tunnels of Redfern

Illawarra Junction Eveleigh
There are a number of unused or little used tunnels under Redfern Station. There were partially-built platforms above the Eastern Suburbs line platforms with stub tunnels extending to Lawson Street, intended for a line to Maroubra. The much earlier tunnels provided grade separation for the Illawarra line trains to access the Central Terminal and the wharves of Darling Harbour and Pyrmont Bay which was the main commercial harbour until the development of the container wharves at the Hungry Mile. The Illawarra line was commissioned in 1882 so the Illawarra Junction is an old structure. There is an additional single-rail tunnel under Platform 1 connecting to the Eveleigh train yards which pops up just north of the Lawson Street bridge (it was in shadow when the Google satellite went overhead) - the rectangular brick structures on Platform 1 are chimney stacks for the steam trains. The main tunnels pop up to the west of Redfern Station and trains proceed to Central Terminus past Platforms 1 and 2 at Redfern station, generally without stopping.

In Plan C, dubbed Growth option, a Harbour tunnel would connect to the two western lines through Erskineville station. This puts the Illawarra Junction tunnels in the path of the Harbour rail tunnel. The plan announced by Baird without any disclosure (Plan F? Rail Future D was a metro that did not take over existing double-deck lines, which was not covered in the report) resolves this dilemma by extending the Harbour rail tunnel deep under the Erskineville line to Sydenham. This tunnel extension is three quarters the length of the Airport line which went into receivership. When you are selling taxpayer assets cost is no object.

A government that was capable of rational thought and was not obsessed with eliminating the jobs of train drivers at any cost would have concluded that the Harbour rail tunnel was not economically viable or would have examined this with a feasibility study. North Shore politicians do not carry out feasibility studies or triumphantly announce they will disregard the feasibility studies that are commissioned. The document sent to Cabinet by Ms Berejiklian was self-described as a "scoping study". Rob Sitch described the difference in the excellent ABC comedy Utopia: "A scoping study is like a feasibility study but with pictures". The pictures in this scoping study were London Underground style diagrams of the rail network with infantile assertions about trains per hour superimposed. No consideration was attempted to the actual numbers of passengers that would be expected to alight from stops based on floor-space ratios in the surrounding areas.

Plan B

Illawarra Junction connects with the Main line to Central Terminal
The scoping study recommended that Rail Future B not be proceeded with: "As the cost of infrastructure for Rail Future B exceeds that of Rail Futures A and C, but realises less than half the capacity increase (across the Harbour), takes longer to build and carries with it greater delivery risk. It is therefore recommended that Rail Future B not be developed further". Not only does the sentence above not make sense grammatically, all the arguments are demonstrably incorrect and ludicrous. We will deal with this in a subsequent post.

Here we will show how the CBD relief line would connect with the main line to Central Terminal. You will recall that a Harbour rail tunnel was physically incapable of connecting to the Airport line and had to continue to Sydenham junction to connect to the Bankstown line. With the CBD Relief Line the northbound rails would pass under Platforms 1 of Redfern Station leaving the historic Illawarra junction intact. The rails would split to surface again to the north of the Cleveland Street road bridge to give access to the above ground platforms of Central Terminal and to continue slightly deeper to the underground platforms. The southbound rail would surface north of Cleveland Street. Depending on the actual demand for passengers to access the areas around Wynyard and Barangaroo the platforms under Central Terminal could ultimately be connected to platforms adjacent to Wynyard station. Problem solved.

Monday, 1 September 2014

The missing loop

Construction phase Plan B
It has long been recognised that Town Hall station was where the capacity of the Harbour Bridge rail line and the City Circle was determined. This was because of the large numbers of passengers transferring between rail services at this station and the narrowness of the platforms and stairs and escalators. These concerns gave rise to plans for the CBD Relief Line, a twin track tunnel connecting the Western lines with additional platforms at Wynyard.

Laurie Brereton Hon.
Brereton, Minister for just about everything in the Wran Government, announced this proposal in the planning for the Darling Harbour development. The tunnel would have had a Sussex Street alignment with a station giving access to Darling Harbour. Treasury stomped on this scheme and Brereton promoted the Monorail as the alternative. The Monorail did not cost the taxpayer a penny but the shareholders in Thomas Nationwide Transport paid a heavy price. Now Ms Berejiklian has torn it down.

Brereton was an early incarnation of Infrastructure Boy. He eventually became so unpopular he was booted upstairs to Federal Parliament. I took part in several community campaigns against his schemes starting with his plan for the Eastern Distributor. He had become a politician when he was unable to pass the exam to become an electrician. In the end he would accept the good advice of his advisers in the Public Service and left the State relatively unscathed.

Rail Future B

The Public Servants appointed by North Shore Rump politicians to head Transport for NSW are something else again. The CBD Relief Line has resurfaced but has been rebranded Rail Future B.

In fact the CBD Relief Line made a lot of sense. Train are spaced so they do not run into the backs of one another - basically a train will not leave say a Wynyard platform until the previous train on the line has left the platform at Town Hall. There are no bypass tracks at Town Hall station so this determines the frequency of trains crossing the Harbour Bridge rail lines. The newer train lines in Paris and Tokyo for instance achieve higher frequencies using fail-safe signalling. If trains crossing the Bridge fan out on to alternate tracks on leaving the Bridge more trains per hour can cross the Bridge which is the obvious Pinch Point.

A lot has changed since Treasury stomped on Brereton's plans:
  • Navsat has been invented to provide an additional level for failsafe signalling;
  • Google and others have spent millions developing automated stopping and acceleration for vehicles;
  • The litigious Harry Seidler has died;
  • The central and northern CBD has been developed just about to the limits allowed by floor-space ratios (which are comparable to those on Manhattan island) without demolishing the remaining sandstone buildings;
  • The internet has made battery-hen office space redundant;
  • Barangaroo and the area around Wynyard are the only places in the CBD likely to see significant expansion of office space and residential buildings in the foreseeable future;
Eeny meeny
Sydney's suburban railways
The question that must be answered is: how many commuters will ever need to access the CBD from the train line through North Sydney?

The distance from Epping station to Central via Chatswood station or via Stratsfield station is roughly the same. If Baird is not sent packing on 28th March commuters from the north west who arrive at Epping by bus or train will be able to access destinations in the CBD north of Martin Place only with extreme difficulty whichever route they take.

  • If they are dumped deep underneath Martin Place via the multi-billion dollar rail tunnel under the Harbour they must catch buses in gridlocked Elizabeth Street northbound - there is no tram stop between Market Street and Wynyard. They will of course transfer to a Harbour Bridge train at Chatswood or St Leonards. 
  • If they arrive at Central in a Central Coast train TfNSW has confirmed in the revised figures in the Preferred Infrastructure Report that they are not expected to transfer to a tram in Chalmers Street (see the post Like Father Unlike Son). They will of course transfer to a western line City Circle train at Strathfield or Central or any stop in between these stop. 
The multi-billion dollar Harbour rail tunnel does nothing to relieve pressure on the City Circle loop; it greatly exacerbates congestion on trains through Town Hall Station.

There is a way of relieving pressure on Town Hall station that was established at the end of the Nineteenth Century. The original city loop rail was incorporated into the design of the Central Rail terminal - the tram loop along Pitt and Castlereagh Streets. This loop was supplemented with the City Circle loop alongside the Central terminal when the Harbour Bridge was built, and the tram loop was torn up when the rest of the Sydney tram system was removed. It was assumed that the City Circle loop could cope with the demand for access to the CBD but evidently this was a mistake. Passengers alighting from trains terminating at Sydney Central terminal walk across the historic concourse and board a tram with complete safety, unaffected by weather, as they did for the more than 60 years when the tram loop was operating. The only passengers who would transfer to a City Circle or Harbour Bridge service at Strathfield would be those who work in the immediate vicinity of Wynyard.

The Pitt-Castlereagh tram alignment is the only CBD tram alignment that reduces pressure on the Town Hall platforms. The George Street tram rails dramatically increase congestion at Town hall Station because of the ructions caused to New South Head Road, Victoria Road, George Street and Elizabeth Street bus services. This has been established in previous posts. The Pitt-Castlereagh alignment was brought to the attention of Ms Berejiklian in a letter the day after her dismissive appearance at the Community forum in April last year and was described in more detail in my submission to the EIS. This alignment was not considered by the "Round Tables" who we are told assessed alternative routes.

Despite this, the corrupted public servants at the Department of Planning and Infrastructure declared in the Final Secretary's Assessment Report released after the newly appointed minister for Planning and Environment had signed off on the project: "With regard to route selection, the Department is satisfied that a suitable process has been undertaken to identify a preferred alignment". The 13 December 2012 brochure listed the "Members of the Sydney Light Rail Round Table". Among them were:

  • NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure
  • NSW Treasury
  • Transport for NSW
The Department required by legislation to make an independent Assessment of the project was in on the "Round Table" process that undertook the selection of the alignment! Participants in the "Round Tables" were sworn to secrecy and efforts to find out even the names or qualifications of the people who took part in them have come to naught. Only a Royal Commission into Transport for NSW will uncover what actually took place at these meetings.

Sam Haddad
The Minister for Planning and Environment Pru Goward had sacked the long serving head of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure Sam Haddad as her first act, following the modus operandi of the newly appointed Premier, Baird. Within weeks she was taking advice from the newly appointed head of the Department and signing off on a project that will have irretrievable consequences for the City of Sydney. Her former portfolio was Minister for Community and Family Services. We now learn that on her watch the number of children at serious risk of harm who were unable to get an assessment of their situation increased proportionally yet again.

I guess this was why Baird chose her to sign off on the Assessment of the CSELR Project.