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PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR CITY TRANSPORT PLANNING

SYDNEY TRANSPORT PLANNING

Some thoughts (somewhat interconnected and jump around) about planning Sydney’s future transport, with a prime focus on rail at the CBD end, using that most reliable planning base the Sydney UBD !

Road – Some vital elements in forward planning for the Sydney road network include an F3-M2 connection and a western bypass of Sydney CBD connecting the North Shore to the Mascot/Botany area and in the process providing a truck link from the north (presently Pacific Highway and SH Bridge) the North West (presently Victoria Road) and the West (presently M4 and Parramatta Road) to Mascot and Botany. The Blueprint printed in the newspaper, which presumably was based on RTA demand forecasting, has joined these two proposals in his 20 year forward plan and provided these links – hence we can forecast with some relatively high degree of certainty that they will be in place within 10-20 years. Funding should not be a major issue as the links, although very expensive in road funding terms, would be highly effective road links that would attract PPP’s and toll funding. But the Blueprint proposal is not as costly as the current F3-M2 proposal at about $4 billion, which in my view is too costly in terms of benefits it would achieve and the amount in would take from the transport budget. (i.e. it is the wrong solution and hence if built it will fall into the same category as the Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel and Chatswood-Epping Tunnel; preferably it will not be built but simply continue to be postponed, as seems to be the case,  until a more viable solution is adopted

The abovementioned road project has the consequence of removing road traffic from the SH Bridge – the equivalent of two lanes that presently use the Western Distributor – in fact as Chris Stapleton showed a Western Bypass would have such a dramatic effect on traffic across the SH Bridge that it would even be practical to remove the Western Distributor – I am not promoting that. But with reduction of traffic across the SH Bridge it does provide an opportunity to revert lanes 7 and 8 to rail as originally intended by Bradfield – restore its heritage status. Even if this could not be achieved (through expected RTA opposition, which hopefully will be resolved by the restructure proposal for transport) there is a relatively low cost option to restore lanes 7 and 8 traffic to the bridge by a local connection that was examined some years ago by DMR>RTA. That is hang 2 car only lanes below the deck connecting Milsons Point to CBD North – From Broughton Street and Alfred Street on the north side of the SHB to George Street and Fort Street on the south side – a relatively low cost connection compared to the SMH proposal to hang rail tracks for which the connection back into the rail network would be extremely and probably prohibitively costly.

So within 10-20 years we should have the potential to revert lanes 7 and 8 on the SH Bridge to rail. [I am aware that rail on lanes 7 and 8 means we would lose the Cahill Expressway as a traffic artery – this in my view is not an issue as traffic on it today is light, < 1 traffic lane capacity each way at peak – that could readily be carried in the SH Tunnel and Cross City Tunnel. Also if we wish to retain the Cahill Expressway it would be much more useful to Sydney CBD if the western end was pushed through to Kent Street.

Rail – A Future rail crossing of the Harbour, say within 15-20 years appears vital for rail. Cost like all rail projects will cause postponement after postponement if unduly high. I quesstimate a Wynyard to Chatswood duplication via lanes 7 and 8 of the SH Bridge would cost < $1 billion. A comparable tunnel connection under the Harbour from say Martin Place to St Leonards and thence duplication to Chatswood is quesstimated of the order of $5 billion perhaps more (the crossing of the Harbour alone would be about $2 billion, based on the SH Tunnel cost). The first to me appears highly viable the second another CBD Metro type project which would in my view would just continue to be reviewed postponed, reviewed postponed as it does not seem to stack up with benefits achieved and draw down on the Transport budget.

The second project vital to Sydney immediately (within 5 years) is Parramatta (Westmead) to the CBD as per FROGS Rail Plan Stage 1. The CBD end was left undetermined in that plan but it now seems that it must link to two CBD Stations as well as Central to provide effective linking with the existing network. To this end desirable it should go to platforms 26 and 27 at the eastern end of Central to provide effective interchange, thence to a new station at Town Hall for passenger distribution to the CBD and interchange with the rail network and to another CBD central station –  probably best to Martin Place but presumably at or near Wynyard would equally suit. {Note all agree Barangaroo is nonsense as a CBD Rail Station at Barangaroo even with King Street Warf development does not generate rail passengers sufficient for a rail destination and it is too remote from the CBD in elevation to provide an effective CBD location. The best way to link Barrangaroo to the CBD is a pedestrian and cycleway link,, necessarily by lift and relatively level link or by moving footway/cycleway).   The preferable rail option is achieved by  joining the two rail connections above - the cross Harbour link to the CBD Inner City Station on the Parramatta-CBD line – this is a key element in rail planning. It also appears that it may be impractical to join the new Town Hall station to the existing unused Wynyard Station to suit option 1 above for a Harbour crossing and we must go under the Harbour. But if we are to be realistic with rail planning and stop the grandiose schemes that never happen we must get rail down to practical proposals – perhaps second best but at least they happen.

So if we are serious in terms of transport planning and that means practical in funding terms, the issue becomes a choice between two viable options, both probably second best –

1.      Terminate Parramatta – CBD at Town Hall and possibly another station near Martin Place and terminate North Shore duplication at existing unused Wynyard Station; OR

2.      Find a practical solution to link the new Town Hall Station to the existing unused Wynyard Station even if not perfect.   

I would appreciate comments on these thoughts.

Ken Dobinson

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Train-corridor review 'folly'

Linton Besser Transport Reporter
January 22, 2009

THE head of the NSW Property Council has described as "pure folly" an impending NSW Government review of the long-held underground rail reservations through the centre of Sydney.

In a letter to the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, and the Transport Minister, David Campbell, Ken Morrison warned that the construction of a second CityRail line through Sydney's central business district was "critical to the future growth of Sydney and must be protected".

The letter comes after the Herald revealed top-level concerns inside RailCorp about the route selected for the $4.8 billion CBD Metro.

In a letter sent last week to the Department of Planning, RailCorp's chief executive, Rob Mason, said the underground routes had to be preserved to accommodate the larger double-deck CityRail trains, rather than being built for metro carriages.

The CBD Metro, which is planned to travel between Central and Rozelle, via Town Hall, Martin Place and Wynyard, is set to take up a corridor that was promised for a $5.5 billion second CityRail line from Redfern, under the harbour, to St Leonards.

If the metro goes ahead on this route it will prevent the one piece of infrastructure that is required to fix the crisis-level congestion plaguing the city's rail network.

The letter was sent as part of a review of legislation protecting the corridors. The Department of Planning said yesterday the review was to "determine whether any of the land included in the corridor should be excluded on the basis that the land is no longer required for railway purposes".

Mr Mason told radio 2GB yesterday that he wanted the underground rail reservations to have the room for trains larger than slimmer metro-style carriages.

"The double-decker trains are bigger and they have a larger tunnel. So we were suggesting that it is reserved for the biggest possible corridor so that the developers can't put their foundations into a future railway," he said.

Mr Morrison said corridors for the future construction of a second harbour CityRail line, which would provide the backbone to future railways in the north-west and south-west of Sydney, had to be maintained.

"The fact that short-term decisions were made in the mini-budget not to proceed with these projects at this time does not mean they are not critical projects which will be required in the future.

"It would be pure folly to throw away our capacity to expand our rail system into the future by releasing these rail-corridor reservations. We strongly urge the Government to retain them.

"The fact that they are in question at all says much about the embryonic state of much of our infrastructure planning in NSW, an issue we urge the Government to address."

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Metro throws Sydney's big plan on its head

Metro throws Sydney's big plan on its head

Linton Besser Transport Reporter
May 7, 2008

YEARS of careful planning to link Sydney's housing, transport and employment hubs has been jettisoned by the decision to abandon a heavy rail line to Rouse Hill and replace it with an independent metro line, Australia's top planning body has warned.

The announcement of the new $12 billion North West Metro has scuttled the integrated transport and housing policies that underpinned the State Government's all-encompassing Metropolitan Strategy, says the Planning Institute of Australia.

Thousands of future north-west residents were expected to travel by rail from their new homes to jobs specifically created in the "global arc" between Macquarie Park and North Sydney. But the metro will force these commuters to interchange at Epping to a line that now will not have room for them. More than 10,000 people an hour could be stuck at Epping during the morning peak, competing for just 4000 spaces on the Epping to Chatswood CityRail line.

The sudden shift of priorities - from an $8 billion CityRail expansion plan to a single underground all-stops metro - has thrown into doubt the very principles by which hundreds of planning decisions have been made. For instance, no provision has been made for high-density development at key stops on the metro at Rozelle, Drummoyne and Gladesville.

In a new policy paper, the institute says it supports the North-West Metro line as far west as Epping, but that extending a subway to Rouse Hill contravenes the world's best transport and land use principles. The metro and "its connectivity with Victoria Road overturns years of careful planning by the State Government to integrate land use and transport planning for Sydney's global city corridor from Epping to the airport", it says.

The metro was announced in March as a replacement for the $8 billion Metropolitan Rail Expansion Program, which would have included the North-West Rail Link and a new rail line through the CBD as part of the CityRail network. The line to Rouse Hill was always premised on the link between housing designated for the north-west and the concentration of jobs in areas between Macquarie Park and Chatswood, St Leonards and North Sydney.

The new line will still service the north-west but will force commuters to change at Epping or Wynyard to reach those employment hubs via CityRail lines.

"The Epping to Rouse Hill leg should be retained as a heavy rail corridor that is part of the CityRail network," the institute says. "This [would] provide a strong direct rail link between the north-western parts of Sydney and major employment locations on the northern side of Sydney Harbour."

The metro will carry up to 30,000 passengers an hour to Epping, where many will be forced to change to the CityRail network to travel to this employment arc. The Government has calculated that 38 per cent of north-west passengers want to access the Macquarie Park corridor, as well as Chatswood to North Sydney. That means 11,400 people an hour in the peak will be trying to change on to a rail line that is now configured for a maximum of 4000 an hour between Epping and Chatswood. Under the former rail plan, the capacity of the Epping to Chatswood line would have been substantially enhanced. The importance of a direct connection was recognised by the Government in its 2002 overview report on the North-West Rail Link. "The North-West Rail Link's primary aim is to allow people from Sydney's north-west direct access to employment, shopping and community facilities in the broad area between Epping, Chatswood, North Sydney, [and] Sydney CBD," it said.

The institute is concerned that strategic planning for Sydney was largely underpinned on a rail plan that has now been shelved. It included a new CBD rail line that would ease congestion at stations such as Wynyard. The institute asks about the capacity of the already pressured Wynyard "to support forced interchange of passengers onto the CityRail network".

The Minister for Transport, John Watkins said: "I welcome the Planning Institute of Australia's praise … they have joined the chorus of support for this vital project.

"Passengers travelling to the business centres at Macquarie Park, Chatswood and North Sydney can interchange with the existing CityRail network at Epping, Wynyard, Martin Place and St James stations."

The metro will carry up to 30,000 passengers an hour to Epping, where many will be forced to change to the CityRail network to travel to this employment arc. The Government has calculated that 38 per cent of north-west passengers want to access the Macquarie Park corridor, as well as Chatswood to North Sydney. That means 11,400 people an hour in the peak will be trying to change on to a rail line that is now configured for a maximum of 4000 an hour between Epping and Chatswood. Under the former rail plan, the capacity of the Epping to Chatswood line would have been substantially enhanced. The importance of a direct connection was recognised by the Government in its 2002 overview report on the North-West Rail Link. "The North-West Rail Link's primary aim is to allow people from Sydney's north-west direct access to employment, shopping and community facilities in the broad area between Epping, Chatswood, North Sydney, [and] Sydney CBD," it said.

The institute is concerned that strategic planning for Sydney was largely underpinned on a rail plan that has now been shelved. It included a new CBD rail line that would ease congestion at stations such as Wynyard. The institute asks about the capacity of the already pressured Wynyard "to support forced interchange of passengers onto the CityRail network".

The Minister for Transport, John Watkins said: "I welcome the Planning Institute of Australia's praise … they have joined the chorus of support for this vital project.

"Passengers travelling to the business centres at Macquarie Park, Chatswood and North Sydney can interchange with the existing CityRail network at Epping, Wynyard, Martin Place and St James stations."

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