Maritime & Transport / Rail

NSW’s rapid transit rail to spearhead “war on congestion”

The NSW government is ready to take a hard line on the state’s congestion problems – with an exciting new railway project set to lead the efforts.

In response to years of complaints from commuters and other travellers in the state, the government recently revealed its new rapid transit rail network project, which promises to “unblock a major train bottleneck and transform the city”.

“Sydneysiders know that they live in the greatest city, in the greatest state, in the greatest country in the world … but we also know that clogged roads and crowded trains are like a heavy, wet blanket sitting on our lives,” said NSW Premier Mike Baird.

“Whether commuting to work or heading out to enjoy this great city, we all want to get there quicker.”

The 30 kilometre Sydney Rapid Transit (SRT) network will extend the existing North West Rail Link, including a second Harbour rail crossing. With three new underground stations lined up, the SRT will boost train capacity by 60 per cent during peak hours – amounting to an extra 100,000 travellers per hour.

Up to 30 trains per hour will run in each direction, boasting almost complete (98 per cent) reliability. Increases in the number of express trains from Penrith, Parramatta and Blacktown to the city centre will reduce congestion as they won’t be held up by all-stop trains.

In what is perhaps the biggest bonus for commuters, the expanded capacity eliminates the need for timetables and they can simply turn up and ride, with a train ready to board every two minutes.

While much of the focus is being placed on rail, the NSW government has also pledged to invest in expanding the WestConnex, thus further cutting down bottlenecks on city roads.

“Today we stand at a crossroads. We have outlined our vision for the future of this state, and we will be taking this once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform this great city to the people of NSW in March 2015,” concluded Mr Baird.

The North West Rail Link – transforming Australia’s transit rail

The SRT represents the latest development in the $8.3 billion North West Rail Link, one of Australia’s largest ever public transport projects. One of the state government’s “priority rail projects”, it is set to become the country’s first fully automated rapid transit rail system.

In total, the project will add eight new railway stations and 4,000 new commuter car parking spaces, significantly boosting access to public rail transport. Given the fact that the region has the highest levels of car ownership per household in Australia, this will certainly be welcome news for commuters.

Increasing population density and congestion the drivers for change

Not surprisingly, industry bodies have welcomed the announcement of the project. Bryan Nye, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, said the SRT was particularly apt as it connected some of the most densely populated areas in the state. According to the NSW government, the North West Growth Centre’s population will rise above 600,000 in the coming decades.

“A second Harbour rail crossing will open up Sydney’s CBD to the northern suburbs and provide a more efficient and frequent connection between the two highly populated areas of one of our most densely populated cities,” he said.

“Congestion on Sydney’s roads is increasing at a rapid rate, it is reassuring to see the NSW government address this issue by providing a robust rail network as a long term transport alternative for Sydneysiders. With one passenger train taking 525 cars off the road, this project is bound to transform Sydney’s rail network as well as its roads – improving all for the better.”

Mr Nye concluded by urging the NSW government to build on this healthy level of rail investment and extend its efforts to regional areas, allowing residents of those areas to enjoy the same high standard of rail services.


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